2022 & You: Benefits of yoga and meditation – KBTX

BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) – In the new year, we place a lot of focus on our mental and physical health and set resolutions on how we can improve in those areas. Yoga and meditation are simple additions we can add to our routines that work on these areas simultaneously.
With yoga and meditation, the benefits and skills developed through these practices can extend beyond the mat and can be used daily in daily life.
Many people believe they cannot practice yoga because they are not flexible, but Kelli Norgaard, owner of The Bridge Yoga in College Station says that’s not the case.
“I hear all the time, ‘I can’t come to yoga. I’m not flexible’ or ‘I can’t do a handstand,’” said Norgaard. “People think yoga is about mastering these Cirque du Soleil calisthenics kind of things and that’s not what is.”
Texas A&M University instructional professor Kirstin Brekken Shea says that’s a common misconception that really has nothing to do with yoga.
“You will become more flexible with regular practice of yoga. You will get stronger, have more muscle endurance, but probably the most prominent thing is that you will walk out of a yoga class feeling better than when you walked in,” said Brekken Shea.
She attributes that to the focus on both the mind and body during the classes.
“Yoga is to yolk. It’s to bring together the body and the mind. Doing this repetitively, several times a week or if you have it as a regular basis then it starts to impact how you feel mentally.”
For Norgaard, it’s providing stability both on and off the mat, especially now, in a time of uncertainty.
“That same stability you felt in that moment on one leg when some social media feed starts to make you feel a little anxious, you go back to that feeling, of feeling stability and feeling balance. Thats what we mean when we say you take your practice off your mat. It should affect all parts of your life, not just that 60 minutes when you’re standing on the mat.”
“People think it’s that whole Julia Roberts sitting on that spot in Eat Pray Love and she can’t be still,” said Norgaard. “That’s not what we want you to think about meditation.”
Instead, it’s acknowledging what’s going around you, and not trying to clear your mind, said Brekken Shea.
“I don’t sit down and try to clear my mind because I can’t do it, but I can sit and recognize: I hear the air conditioning, I hear the traffic, I feel what’s under me, and I just really connect with my exterior environment,” said Brekken Shea. “Then I slowly, with intention, I focus within on my interior environment.”
Similar to Brekken Shea, Norgaard, says meditation requires mindfulness.
“Meditation is the ability to be so acutely aware in the present moment that all the distractions just go away,” said Norgaard.
Giving you the ability to truly do it anywhere.
“You don’t have to have the perfect environment with music and low lights and incense and candles- that’s never going to happen,” said Brekken Shea. “That’s not perfect. So take any time. Sometimes you have to steal time away and maybe it’s when you are waiting in line somewhere. Maybe, you are waiting for the bus or between classes or between clients.”
“You take five minutes and you just let go. Turn your phone off, withdraw within, and think about your breath,” said Brekken Shea.
If sitting still is not for you, Brekken Shea recommends a walking meditation. However, leave the headphones at home during this type of walk and pay attention to your environment and focus on your breath.
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