If you're still on the fence when it comes to yoga, or you've not made it part of your fitness, self-care or wellness practice/regimen, I've got quite a convincing argument for us to get with it together. We all know that yoga can do a lot to benefit your mental and physical body. It can make you stronger, improve your balance, make your body more tone, reduce stress, lower your blood pressure and more. All of these possible side effects are simply wonderful, but there's a lot more to yoga's benefits than that. Yoga can actually help you live a better life. There are many life lessons to be gleaned from having a yoga practice. One of the more obvious ones is consistency.
When you have a regular yoga practice and you commit yourself to sticking to it, you are improving your self-discipline. It can be hard to maintain a regimen sometimes, because we can always come up with an excuse or some other pressing matter to attend to. Consistency takes dedication and commitment. It's a more difficult lesson for some than others, but it is an important one for being successful in this life.
My Beginner's Lesson (Again)
I struggle with consistency. Why? Because I've just got so much life moving around me all the time. Between my young children, a husband, housework, homeschooling, farming, etc. I find it difficult to stick to a schedule. I'm sort of a free spirit and I like going with the flow of my changing rhythms. I don't always accomplish everything I plan for any given day, let alone maintain a regular yoga or fitness practice. Sound familiar? So here's my lesson: prioritization.
In order for me to maintain a regular practice, I have to prioritize it much like I do eating a meal, drinking water and tending to my garden. As a busy lady, I find it very difficult to give to myself. I will wear 15 year old pajamas to bed because although they're a little worn, they're not holey and destroyed, while I buy my children new pajamas to keep up with their fast growing bodies. Giving myself this time to tend to my body so that I can be healthier for a longer period of time for my family is important too. It's a lesson that is on repeat for me. Prioritization. It's necessary.
Fear Can Kick Rocks
Fear is a natural and healthy human response. It is part of our built-in survival kit. But sometimes we allow fear to wiggle its way into areas of our lives where it has no place. There is no need to fear falling out of a pose (alone or in a class), going upside down, wearing yoga pants or not looking like a pro in a pose. This kind of "hold you down and back" fear will make its way into other areas of your life. In fact, it likely already is part of your daily living if you've had these types of thoughts about yoga.
Are you fearful in your relationships, your opinions? Are you afraid to be who you are in public? Are you afraid to be seen? This isn't what healthy fear looks like. Healthy fear is being afraid of being stung by a scorpion because you live in the desert. So when you go for evening walks, you always take your walking stick and stay alert.
The more you practice yoga, the more you learn about your body and just how useless fear is to you in many situations. The goal is to learn to let go of fear in more than just your yoga practice.
Nothing is Totally Balanced
When you're doing poses that require balance or mirrored movements, you will notice that one side is stronger than the other. Just like you are either right dominant or left dominant, the scales are never totally level. As you get deeper into your practice, you will start to notice those subtleties more and more. This can help you pinpoint areas that need work and development.
Life is asymmetrical. It's a fact of life. Yoga teaches us to accept things and people as they are, in all their stages. (Acceptance doesn't mean there is no accountability or responsibility, it's simply a tool to keep us grounded in what is real.) Yoga teaches us to look for the beauty in the differences and embrace our imperfections, treating them kindly as we work towards our goals.
Breath is the Stuff of Life
Breathing is vital to our existence. If you stop breathing, you will cease to exist in your physical body. Yoga forces you to focus on breathing. Whenever a pose gets difficult or you're not quite achieving a certain form, the key is to return to your breath. This is true in life too. When things are tough or a situation is getting out of hand, it helps to stop pushing and just take a breath.
The act of inhaling and exhaling is more than filling lungs with oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. We have the ability to inhale energy and clarity. We can focus the energy of an inhale or exhale on a specific point in our bodies. It's a tool for calming us down. Breath is one simple way we can refocus and fortify ourselves.
Nothing Wrong with a Little Failure
I said it. There's beauty in failure. Failures give us opportunities to make corrections, reconceptualize and pivot. We have to make mistakes sometimes in life and in yoga. Getting to know yourself and what you are capable of is a side effect of failures and mistakes. I hope missteps are starting to sound a little more appealing to you. Mess up. Get up. Try again. This applies to yoga poses and making your way in the world today.
In yoga our bodies will ask us to warm up before attempting certain poses. We may find that we need to use props to accomplish poses. All of this is okay. Listening to the messages our bodies are sending as we attempt to move through sequences is important. Not listening to your body can result in muscle strains or even injury.
This life requires us to listen. We have to listen to our intuition, our families, our employers or clients and many others. Listening allows us to better inform our actions and make the necessary adjustments to make the most out of our lives.
If it feels like life is always out to teach you a lesson, you're right. Education is one of life's biggest joys. It wants us to grow and evolve, and that only happens through lessons. Even the most hard headed of us have lessons to learn in order to move forward successfully. Life has some pretty strange tactics for reaching us too. Your yoga practice is one of them.