People often ask me what I gain from practicing yoga. Most assume I do it to increase my flexibility or to increase my core strength. But to be honest, in my line of work as pediatric ophthalmologist, I practice yoga to gain more patience. Nothing disrupts your psyche more than a crying, uncooperative child. But being able to flow through a vinyasa in a controlled manner and slowly developing the core strength to do an inversion has helped me immensely in gaining the patience I need for work and life in general. It helps me endure the squatting and contorting I sometimes need to do in the clinic in order to be able to examine a patient. It helps me develop my confidence and my ability to adapt to unforeseen situations. It gives me focus and helps me relieve my stress. This in turn enables me to spend more quality time with my family when I get home
Yoga fills a gap. When I practice yoga, as cliché as it may sound, I feel peace and quiet. Yes, I hear the instructor’s words and flow with his or her words, but I actually don’t hear it. Does that make sense? I zone out and let my body just move. It is during these moments that I go to my happy place and let my mind relax. People ask me what I think of during these moments. To be honest, I don’t know. My mind just feels empty and free from all concerns for the 60 minutes I am practicing.
Aside from the obvious benefits to my psyche during class, it is the benefits I gain after class that make yoga so much more important to me. Uncooperative, kicking, screaming, and crying children comprise about a fifth of my practice. Examining these children is both physically and emotionally draining. Deep breathing techniques and being able to focus on my inner self, as I stated before, enables me to turn off the external noise and focus on the patient’s problems. It calms me down.
It helps me at home by being able to bond with the kids more through several acro yoga poses. It helps me release some of the pent up energy they have left over from the day. It helps with the flexibility of the kids as well as they are also into taekwondo. It improves their self esteem, calms them down and helps them relax.
Honestly, I never knew I would gain all these when I started practicing yoga 5 years ago. What was supposed to be just an opportunity for me to exercise and increase my flexibility has become an essential part of my routine that I look forward to and crave. It has given me more benefits than I ever expected and it will continue to do so for years to come.
Carlos Chua is Pediatric Ophthalmologist and has been practicing yoga for over five years. He’s a father to two kids and loves doing yoga with them.