Yoga is what grounds me. It keeps me from falling off the deep end of my thoughts. It curbs stress, annihilates anxiety and makes me centered, focused, and at peace.
My yoga studio offers free classes in exchange for receptionist work, so I staff the check-in desk for 30 minutes once a week. I register my fellow yogis for class, collect their money, ask if they want a mat, mop the studio floor, and take out the trash after class. And then on Monday nights, I take the big trash barrel for the studio out to the curb and net myself another free class. In addition to free yoga, this is a practice in humility that I need in my daily life.
Yoga is, for me, a perfect frugal exercise. Not only because I’m able to take classes for free, but because I can practice yoga anywhere, anytime. Yoga doesn’t require fancy equipment, expensive clothes, or, really much of anything at all. It’s pretty much just you and your body. A mat is recommended but super cheap. Both Mr. FW and I use this $20 mat from Amazon (affiliate link), but any cheapo mat will do just fine.
While I adore the health benefits of yoga, what I’m most thankful for is how it focuses my mind. When I’m practicing yoga, I am in it. I’m not thinking about anything else. I’m not stressed or distracted or planning. I am sweating it out and concentrating on my breathing. I push myself to go deeper and work harder every time I’m on my mat, so I don’t have room in my brain for tertiary, unrelated, negative thoughts.
Believe it or not, Mr. FW sometimes practices with me. This gives us a shared understanding of how to translate the lessons of yoga to our frugal journey to financial independence. This clarity of mind enables us to make frugal decisions year after year without losing steam. Without this focus, I have to imagine we’d fall victim to lifestyle inflation and negative thinking about all that we don’t have. Financial independence is not a passing goal for us, it’s THE goal. And yoga helps us get there.
Because I’m a list-lover and I have a lot to say about yoga, I made you this list of why yoga is great and everyone should do it:
- Yoga relieves stress and teaches a singularity of focus and clarity of mind.
- It’s exercise in disguise. It is so enjoyable for me that I don’t think about it as exercise for exercise’s sake. It’s entertainment!
- No decisions time. When I practice yoga, it’s my no decisions time. I don’t over-think my poses, I don’t obsess over how advanced I am in a posture or whether I’m sweating more or less than the person next to me. It’s a true break for my mind.
- You can come as you are. Yoga is not a judgmental exercise regimen. Yoga teachers (good ones anyway) don’t push students to compete with one another. They don’t pass judgement on your poses and they don’t encourage you to “burn that fat” or “bust that booty.” Rather, they encourage you to breathe deeply and focus on the reasons why you’re on your mat. I love that–it’s so simple and so perfect: why are you on your mat? Why did you decide to practice today?
- Any skill level can participate. While there are extremely advanced yoga positions that look impossible, if not improbable, yoga is a completely approachable practice. There are central tenets and positions that anyone can do. Even sitting in chair one can practice yogic breathing, meditation, and presence of mind.
- The value of a mantra. Most yoga practices ask that you set a personal intention or mantra at the beginning of each class. This is a word or phrase or person that you want to dedicate your practice to and center your thoughts on. I almost always use the phrase “patience and gratitude,” which for me encapsulates what I hope to accomplish every day: patience with others and my own shortcomings, patience for the three years we have before early retirement, and extensive gratitude for the many blessings I have in my life.
I practice a heated Vinyasa flow power yoga, with classes that are 90 minutes long and in 100-degree heat. This is a fairly intense form of yoga and if you’re brand new, I recommend that you try an unheated class first. There are a multitude of different styles and philosophies of yoga, which is wonderful–everyone can find a niche that works for them. Additionally, free yoga classes are available in many cities through the parks department, the public library, or the YMCA. If all else fails, there’s always free yoga on the internet!