Bigger Than Biceps: How yoga can lead to a healthier body & mind


When you perform a simple task, it's not until after you finish it that you realize what characteristics, values or meanings were behind it. From holding the door for someone who might have been having a bad day or getting through a workout even though you weren't feeling up to it, I've found that by attaching principles to everyday tasks, it makes me appreciate things more, especially when it comes to things I don't like doing.

A good example of this process is practicing yoga. It's a task unlike any other fitness activity I've been a part of. It's flexibility, stability, meditation, focus, and more, all through an evolving series of movements.

A few weeks ago I did "hot yoga," also called," Bikram." I've done it several times before, but when I need a kick in the butt, it really helps. I don't know how I could do room-temperature yoga ever again.

It helped me with a few things. It let me know that I haven't lost any flexibility during my inconsistent workouts over the past few months and it showed me that I have different strengths than other people in the class. I may not be able to do a toe stand, but I can hold bow pose longer than others.

Many different people can benefit from yoga, physically and mentally. For me, it's taught me how to breathe through anxiety, impatience and other tough situations. I've also tried to slow and quiet my mind. It forces a break from life.

I like to lift weights, so it definitely advanced my strength and flexibility. Each yoga pose is meant to strengthen muscles around the spine, according to the lifestyle brand Gaiam. Muscles can get overworked and broken down so much when pumping iron, but they don't have a chance to get massaged and stretched out unless it's through yoga.

Stability is another important factor. Bodybuilding is based on sets of repetitions, while yoga is based on timed sets. You have to hold poses for five or three breath cycles. That's how you get through an uncomfortable or new pose. Through stability comes muscles. They don't only get built with weights. The combination of "breathing, posing, moving, and increasing flexibility at one time unearths a new level of discipline in your mind and body," according to Gaiam.

Discipline is a huge part of living a healthy lifestyle. They don't call it, "letting yourself go" for nothing. Having discipline with food and exercise shows how connected the mind and body are. Healthy living doesn't just pertain to clean eating and regularly working out. It's about living a healthy life mentally too. Yoga helps with that tremendously, even if you don't expect it to.

I find that people are intimidated to try new things, especially yoga. There seems to be a stigma that only skinny, in-shape people do yoga, but that's not the case. It helps with more than just weight loss and can encourage every person to better their life mentally. has a list of beginner yoga classes. There's Hatha, Vinyasa, Iyengar, Astanga, Bikram, Hot Yoga, Kundalini, Yin Yofa and Restorative. Each one has a different purpose.

Contact Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at 802-490-6471.


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