I’ve been a fitness enthusiast for most of my life. I grew up kicking a soccer ball and running cross country and eventually made the decision to become a Personal Trainer. But yoga? That stuff was for the birds. At least that’s what I thought, and told my mom, as I stared at her skeptically flying around her mat. After much persuasion, she finally convinced me to take a class, and…I still wasn’t sold. The instructor was calling things like Chaturanga and Utkatasana as I gazed around the room wide-eyed, wondering is everyone else sweating as much as I am?
Despite my unfamiliarity with the practice, something left me wanting more. I’m guessing it had to do with the Savasana and cold lavender eye towels at the end. So, I kept going back, and like any good, developing addiction, the more I went, the more I wanted. I craved the way I felt leaving class, rinsed out, relaxed, and ready to take on life. Eventually, the skeptic became the teacher. I signed up for teacher training and became one of those all-out, yoga every damn day people. Here’s what the process taught me both on and off my mat…
1. The importance of breath.
Breath serves as the connection between our body and the moment we are experiencing, be it a long hold in a pose, or sitting in traffic on our morning commute. It provides access to calmness in a seemingly stressful situation.
2. Self acceptance.
Empowerment will never come from comparing yourself to other people. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t noticed the beauty in someone else’s practice or that half the women in my class could double as Victoria’s Secret models. Yet in those moments, I’m reminded that yoga — and life for that matter — are not about competing. Don’t get so caught up with looking perfect that you lose sight of what ignites passion within you.
3. The way out is through endurance.
In committing to stand my ground (with shaking legs) in a pose that seems like it may last forever, I find strength in knowing that this too shall pass. Yoga goes on just as life goes on. Be with things as they are and find ease when things feel difficult.
4. Yoga is a practice.
Every time you step foot onto your mat, your practice will be different and your life will be different. Some days feel messy and embarrassingly imperfect while others flow seamlessly. Cultivate patience for the process.
5. You already have what you need to be content.
In his book, Happy Yoga, Steve Ross says that “happiness is in you, it is you, and it’s not coming from any external source.” Oh the babysitting money I could have saved in junior high instead of spending it on Abercrombie & Fitch jeans — the golden ticket, as I assumed, to all the things I desired in life. Find joy from within.
6. Life exists in the present moment.
Among the could-haves, would-haves, should-haves, and the what-ifs, it’s possible that you miss the now. In his play, Our Town, Thornton Wilder raises the question, “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?” By mindfully accessing breath and drishti while flowing from one pose to the next, yoga has a way of bringing us into the moment, the right now.
7. Whatever you focus on, you fortify.
You have the power to take ownership of your life and to choose the intention and action that will create possibility.