By Juanita Hill
Photography: Miles Rashad (milesrashad.us)
Editor’s note: Juanita Hill, 29, is a Southern California native, currently residing in Alabama. She has been avidly involved with meditation and Yoga as a lifestyle for approximately two years, practicing a minimum three days per week.
Coming from an athletic background, I’ve always thought that getting in shape meant that you moved fast, trained hard, and pushed yourself past your limits, which is what made you mentally and physically tough. But now, I’ve realized that through Yoga, you can reap the same if not more of the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits, but at a slower and much more relaxed pace!
I originally started off with meditating because I thought it was going to be an easy and quick way to de-stress. Man, was I was wrong. I had all the pieces of the puzzle I needed with the exception of having peace of mind. I would crack a window and let the breeze blow in, sit in my most comfortable wooden chair with a soft cushion, feet planted with palms up, thumbs to ring fingers. Just as I would get settled into my Yoga state of mind, everything from a creak in the chair, to thoughts of my workday, family, and what needed to happen next week ran through my mind.
As simple as “just clear your mind” sounds, it’s actually quite difficult even if you are in the quietest room in the house. I realized immediately that Yoga was more than just about clearing my mind; it was about training my mind to be clear! I slowly gained a genuine clarity that grew with each session. I was seeing the benefits of knowing that I could take myself to a more peaceful state of mind and remain calm no matter what environment I was in. That led me to a new appreciation for the power of the mind and body.
As my curiosity grew in Meditation, I came across Yoga poses and postures also known as Asana, which I personally like to refer to as “Meditation in Motion”. It has enabled me to gain a healthier mental, physical, and spiritual lifestyle. Mentally, Yoga has helped me deal with everything from bringing down my anxiety levels, and increasing both my patience and self discipline, to giving me more self confidence, and increasing my overall body awareness, enabling me to sense when my body is stressed out.
Physically, Yoga has enhanced my agility and flexibility, helped tone muscles, strengthen my core areas, and relieve tension build up. Spiritually, I am able to be focused in my happy place; where I can go and all is calm, and there are no present or future worries. Just peace.
I like Yoga because the postures are meant to pinpoint certain aspects of the mind and body that you want to focus on. Through trial and error, I have found the positions and postures that allow me to tailor my meditation to the focal points I’ve set for myself. By doing so, they have helped me achieve my immediate and long term goals in addition to producing the greatest results for my body and mind!
One of the best things about Yoga is that physically, there are different levels of difficulty which allow plenty of room for one to experiment and create a personalized guide to fit you and your goals. I highly recommend yoga to anyone who is interested in finding new ways to improve their body, stimulate their mind, and create spiritual awareness between mind, body, and soul.
- Lotus pose- Padmasana
- Downward facing dog- Adho Mukha Svanasana
- Child’s pose- Balasana
- Fierce pose- Utkatasana
- Warrior pose I- Virabhadrasana I
- Warrior pose II- Virabhadrasana II
- Warrior pose III- Virabhadrasana III
- Tree pose- Vrksasana
- Plough pose- Halasanahead
- Sun salutation pose- Surya Namaskara
- Bound angle pose- Baddha Konasana
- Seated forward bend- Paschimottanasana
- Corpse pose- Savasana
- Shoulder stand pose- Sarvanga-Asana
- Side plank pose- Vasisthasana
Other website references I recommend: