One blessing for me that has come out of living on a remote ranch and enduring the pandemic is the opportunity to participate in yoga classes with excellent teachers from all over the world. When COVID forced yoga studios to close, many embraced technology and started teaching online.
While technology has its hurdles, and the internet is like a freeway and gets congested at times, surprisingly most of the classes have gone very smoothly. I have thoroughly embraced the classes with the Iyengar Yoga Institutes of NYC & Brooklyn. Iyengar yoga is named after B.K.S. Iyengar and is alignment-based yoga. Please don’t be put off by all the different types of yoga available.
I am a fan of Iyengar yoga because it focuses on structural alignment through asanas (yoga poses). It also calls for props (blankets, blocks, straps, bolsters) in to help students achieve alignment during the poses. In practicing yoga, you start from where you are, do what you can, and do no harm to yourself.
I am excited and amazed by the amount of content that is offered online, from simple tutorials to free classes. Last year I figured out how to change the oil in my 4x4 off-road Roxor utility vehicle after watching a video on YouTube.
There are many reasons to continue your education — to expand your knowledge base for job advancement, work promotions, salary increases, personal development and entertainment, to name just a few.
It is never too late to learn anything. One of my most memorable classes was a graduate agricultural economics class that I took when I was in my 40s.
There are many websites that offer free courses. For instance, EdX (edex.org) has courses from some leading universities like Harvard and UC Berkley. Spend some time reading about the courses offered. EdX offers some courses that offer professional certificates. Another great resource is free learning from the Open University (open.edu/open learn/). It has over 1,000 free courses, topical and interactive content, videos, and online games.
There are many benefits to learning online. You don’t need to leave the house, it is flexible, you can customize your learning environment, learn at your own pace and gain new skills.
By regularly challenging your brain you are enhancing your cognitive capacity, improving and strengthening the connective tissue in your brain’s neurons which helps you perform better and quicker.
I embrace lifelong learning because it feels right and gives my life more meaning. As you know, I am currently studying to become a yoga therapist with the International Association of Yoga Therapists. It’s never too late to begin studying a subject that interests you or start a new career path. Just as it takes effort to maintain a healthy body, the same principle applies to keeping your brain sharp and healthy.
The research is clear: Lifelong learning keeps the brain sharp and active. Dive in and start learning. Inspire yourself and learn something new.
Feel free to share your thoughts with me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ashton Graham is an educator, book publisher, photographer, cowgirl and yoga enthusiast. She is currently studying to become a yoga therapist and lives on a ranch in West Texas. Visit www.ashtoncannon.com to learn more.
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This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: Lifelong learning for a healthy mind