At every practice session, I am reminded of lessons I’ve learned from yoga. I started yoga over a year ago and little did I know then how much I would grow. I had this idea of what a yogi should be and what one would look like, but as I’ve become one myself, I realize that’s not the case. Here are some lessons I’ve learned from yoga.
One lesson I’ve learned from yoga is that your body is practically a god. It uses its power and resilience when needed, especially in tougher poses, but tries to maintain a calm air. Part of yoga is to become aware of the body. That doesn’t mean judge its shortcomings and label its faults but rather, be aware of both your strengths and opportunities for growth. Since I started yoga, I have gained so much respect for my body.
‘Namaste’ has many translations but the one we use at my school is as follows: “I honor the place in you where the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you that is of light, of love, and of compassion. When you are inside that place in you, and I am inside that pace in me, we are one.” I’m beginning to learn how important it is to recognize the light in others. When they are at peace with themselves pursuing their passions and you are too, then you are united. It doesn’t matter if you hold different morals or beliefs, what matters is that you can respect that others have different experiences and goals that make them who they are.
Every breath is an invitation to be in the present moment. How amazing is that? When I find myself struggling in a pose or in an event in my life, I find myself using my breath as a way to stay grounded. Sometimes I get wrapped into the mental dialogue of anxiety that is worry about what will happen. It’s at moments like these that I take deep breaths, listen to the sound of my breathing, and feel the rise and fall of my chest.
One yoga instructor at my studio says at the end of class, “May your practice be of benefit to all humans, animals and creatures everywhere.” I think it’s important to keep that in mind. Yoga isn’t limited to your mat, but rather a resource for reconnecting with yourself and sending those positive vibes to those you encounter. That post-yoga bliss isn’t only good for your karma but for others.
Yoga is an individual practice inspired by others. At first, I was envious of other yogis who seemed to have no problem holding Downward Dog for long periods of time and move effortlessly into Pigeon. But getting caught in jealously only hinders me from fully entering into my own practice. I may not be able to get my heels on the ground but finding stillness and peace in challenging poses makes my practice stronger. I do follow the instructions of my teacher, however, and draw my inspiration from the yogis around me, listening to the unity of our breaths in each pose.
There is a story I heard once in which a yogi went to her instructor and told him how her practice was horrible, unsettling, and full of distractions. The instructor said, “It will pass.” A week later the yogi returned and prattled on about how her practice was amazing, insightful, and peaceful. He replied, “It will pass.” The reason I like this story is because it reminds us of the impermanence of things. Emotions, highs, lows, good practices, and bad practices will all pass. This subtle message reminds me to take each moment for what it is and not worry about being happy, content, what have you in the future because all you have is right now.
My yoga instructor always begins class by saying that the hardest part of yoga is getting on the mat. And it’s true. Once on your mat, you are challenging yourself physically, yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily harder. We work in yoga to quiet the mind of its normal trains of thought. By getting on your mat, you are making the commitment, regardless of whether you believe it’s a good or bad practice, to be mindful.
To me, yoga is one of the most rewarding, challenging, and insightful aspect of my life. Each practice, I find myself learning more and more. And I’m accepting that more fully, that there is so much I have yet to learn. What has yoga taught you?
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