Finding Your Center Through Yoga and Fitness: A few gentle stretches can actually help your body feel better
The term, “find your center” seems like something a yogi would tell you at the beginning of a hot yoga class or some trendy new floor pilates virtual session, while sipping a super healthy cold-pressed juice. But the term is actually one reminding us all to be in touch with the flesh and bones that house us and effort to quiet the chaos of our minds. And yes, it’s part of yoga.
Yoga once seemed like some hippy dippy idea meant for people who made their own granola and opted not to shave their armpits. But yoga is so much more than that. It’s a practice about finding your center, being mindful of what your body is trying to tell you, and it’s incredibly good for joints and muscle pain. While the benefits of yoga are internal, the external results aren’t bad either. The agility of one’s body can firm and tone, all while bringing peace and calm to your overall self.
The same is true with creating your own fitness routine. And as many fitness centers continue to be closed, getting inspired to put your health first can be a little easier said than done.
Find Your Inner Yogi
Yoga is one of the practices that dates back to the Indus valley civilization around 3000 BCE. Beginning with what we refer to as hatha yoga, the asanas (postures) were developed by Indus-Sarasvati and while it dates back 5000 years, there is a correlation with Indian wrestling, a few yogi’s that weren’t quite so sympatico, and the invention of the guru. So while there are countless books out there on its origin (and many groups debating who invented it), how we practice today is rooted in ancient ideology. Some of the modern practices are in fact related to texts found in tantric texts and while sure, there is a sexual component to tantric yoga, the heart of it is the mobility it gives those who practice.
Yoga has been used in modern medicine to help alleviate the pain associated with lower back, arthritis, migraines, digestive issues, and even leg cramps.
To find your center here are a few yoga poses to practice at home: Downward dog, upward dog, triangle pose, cobra, child pose, sun salutation, and cat cow. Each will loosen up your back, your legs, shoulders, neck, waist and hips, and give your gut a little movement to help move things along.
- About 36 million Americans practice yoga (that’s up 21 million since 2008)
- It was forecast that over 55 million people would practice yoga by 2020 (guessing that number increased thanks to the pandemic).
- 14 million people over the age of 50 are doing yoga (hello Thai Chi).
- Historically, women who practiced yoga were sexually objectified (shocker).
- About 44% of yoga practitioners practice yoga 2–3 times a week.
- A staggering 89% of US yogis practice yoga 1–5 hours a day on average.
- A vast majority of yoga practitioners (94%) do yoga for wellness-related reasons.
- 59% of US yoga practitioners believe that yoga helps them sleep better.
- Every year, Americans spend $16 billion on yoga classes, equipment, clothing, and accessories.
Put Your Health First With Fitness Expert Massy Arias
She is doing more than getting you in shape, she is working to get more young women into college.
Massy Arias is a force. A force that proves that women can take charge of their lives, their body, their health and their happiness. If you’ve ever seen her, she is one charismatic woman and recently ATOD Magazine had the pleasure of interviewing her while she spoke alongside Soledad O’Brien in support of PowHERFul, a truly life-changing organization and movement inspiring and empowering young women by giving them the tools they need to fulfill their dreams of going to college.
“When I started my fitness journey and career transition I came was challenged with many obstacles. I started offering boot camps at Central Park and there were times that a single person wouldn’t even show up. I did not let that discourage me and I continued to pursue what I love. On the other hand, my parents were not familiar with this field and despite their efforts to try to convince me to take another path, I still followed my heart.
I face challenges on a daily basis. And one thing I truly believe in, is that obstacles and failures have taught me lessons. I have never really lost anything, either I have succeeded, or I have learned from whatever mistake I’ve come across.” — Massy Arias
PowHERful is about motivating these women to work hard, not give into discouragement. Arias is a woman who knows who she is, what she’s capable of and what she wants to see in the future. She plans on changing lives and if you follow her on social media, you know she already has.
I one day hope to influence a new generation of trainers to teach people a lifestyle instead of a quick fix to get a bikini body. I want to teach people to fully believe that being healthy really is being happy.
Massiel “Massy” Indhira Arias is Dominican Republic born but American raised. She is bilingual, hard working and willing to share all of her success and her setbacks. She has overcome tremendous obstacles, pushed her limitations and has turned her own experiences into a positive outlet the world benefits from … in more ways than one. While she may be the face of physical fitness and achievement, she is also the face of a woman that represents the embodiment all women should strive for. She is strong, smart, driven, beautiful, fearless, fierce, generous, loving, well spoken and isn’t afraid to fail. In other words, much like O’Brien, she is a stunning portrayal of what inspiration looks like … including motherhood.
Yoga + Fitness Apps
- Asana Rebel
- 7M Workouts for Women
- Hipcamp, Empowered by Massy Arias
The links below are articles to help you find your center and be aware of the value of mindfulness.
The Passages from a Must-Own Book
How we weather the storms of life is what keeps us centered
by Katherine May
The following passages are excerpted from Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, published by Riverhead Books, Nov 2020
Everybody winters at one time or another; some winter over and over again.
Wintering is a season in the cold. It is a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeing rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider. Perhaps it results from an illness or life event such as bereavement or the birth of a child; perhaps it comes from a humiliation or failure. Perhaps you’re in a period of transition and have temporarily fallen between two worlds. READ MORE
Drew Lanham ‘I Worship Every Bird that I See’
The ornithologist Drew Lanham is lyrical in the languages of science, humans, and birds. He’s a professor of wildlife ecology, a self-described “hunter-conservationist,” and author of the celebrated book The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature. His way of seeing and hearing and noticing the present and the history that birds traverse —through our backyards and beyond —is a revelatory way to be present to the world and to life in our time.
His way of seeing and hearing and noticing the present and the history that birds traverse —through our backyards and beyond —is a revelatory way to be present to the world and to life in our time.
How Trauma Lodges in the Body – with Krista Tippett
Bessel van der Kolk— How Trauma Lodges in the Body
Human memory is a sensory experience, says psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk. Through his longtime research and innovation in trauma treatment, he shares what he’s learning about how bodywork like yoga or eye movement therapy can restore a sense of goodness and safety. What he’s learning speaks to a resilience we can all cultivate in the face of the overwhelming events — which, after all, make up the drama of culture, of news, and of life.