Good morning! How was your weekend? I hope a very delightful one. I enjoyed my second weekend of yoga teacher training this past weekend and I feel like it brought up a lot of reflection. In the past year of doing yoga more regularly, and even more seriously in the past six months, I have learned a few lessons. I woke up with it still on my mind today, so that’s where this post is going to go.
My body appreciates the kindness. I like challenging workouts. I enjoy pushing myself. However, since starting yoga, I can see how unkind I had really been to my body at times. I could feel the effects of always trying to push harder and accomplish more in my workouts. I guess on some level I thought that was the only way to truly stay fit. Don’t get me wrong. I still love a challenge and the yoga classes I take at my studio are challenging. Often quite challenging. But somehow it’s done from a whole body perspective and place that also leaves me with more energy, instead of less, and without all the physical discomfort I used to have from pushing so hard all the time. I also can’t complain that not only do I feel better, but I feel like I look fitter too. It’s not the point…but won’t lie that it is an added bonus. Ha!
The simplest things can be the hardest…and will always require our utmost attention. The basic poses can be some of the hardest to do. Every single pose has so, so much to consider. Are you internally or externally rotating in the pose? Where are your hips supposed to be pointing? Are you opening through your chest, lifting and strengthening through your thighs/hamstrings, keeping your shoulders down and back? Are you lengthening in the right places and strengthening in the others? So. Much. To. Think. About! Along those same lines, I have learned that even the most basic things in life require that much attention and proper care. Just like you have to establish a firm foundation and understanding of poses, so you must also establish a firm foundation of your basic priorities in life as everything else stems from them.
Believe. You’re stronger than you think. I can’t even tell you how many times an instructor will demonstrate a pose and I immediately think they are crazy. Straight up insane. “You expect me to try what, now?! I don’t think so!” And then, I surprise myself and can do it. Kind of like the first time I took a class at Red Hot Yoga and received some true instruction on crow. I laughed at the thought, yet the pose came, albeit very briefly that first time before I got too into my head and came tumbling down. But I got further than I believed in myself that I could and now crow is no biggie.
This is still an area in which I struggle. Heck, even yesterday as I was told I could get my head on the floor in Prasarita Padottanasana (a wide legged forward fold) and laughed at the prospect. Well, wouldn’t you know what happened. My head touched the mat…and then I got too into my mind again and lost the spinal extension. Like I said, I’m working on it. We have to believe in ourselves, and especially in life. Life is hard. But we can do hard things.
And when it doesn’t happen, give it time. Last week, the 30 day Instagram yoga challenge I’m doing called for a pose called “baby grasshopper”. The pose reminded me of a couple months ago when the full expression of grasshopper was the “goal pose” of quite a few of the yoga classes I attended. Let’s just say I crashed and burned in a non too graceful fashion all of the times I tried the full pose. Then, when doing baby grasshopper for the challenge I thought I would give the full grasshopper pose a try. Just to see. I surprised myself by being able to relatively easily get into the pose and then stay there for a few breaths.
Still room for improvement, but I did it. With time. There will be things that challenge us in life – whether a physical goal we hope to accomplish or a trying situation. If we give it time, things will change for the better. And we will get stronger.
It’s fun to play. We are too hard on ourselves. Myself very much so included. I think yoga has helped me to see that it really isn’t always about achieving, but also about enjoying the process and having fun while learning. Remember all that face planting I talked about above? Rarely did I feel like a dumb ass. More often than not, I laughed at myself and thought it was a blast to be trying something new. I try to take that same humor into life and not being so hard on myself. It doesn’t always work…but it is getting better. I hope to always play in my practice (currently doing a lot of playing with handstands and forearm balances) and in life (playing with the ideas of some big decisions and changes).
I crave nourishment. I used to have a sweet tooth that would not stop. Now, I crave sugar much, much less and feel the effects of unhealthier foods on my body so much more than I ever did. I also feel more in tune with my appetite than I ever have. I rarely seek food when stressed or emotional for any reason anymore and I honestly crave nourishing, whole foods more than I ever have before.
I sleep like a rock. I used to have trouble falling asleep and would tend to wake up easily, sometimes struggling to fall back asleep. Since doing more yoga, I fall asleep easier and sleep hard. Sometimes even too hard, since there have been plenty of times the kids wake up and I sleep right on through it leaving Peter to take the brunt of the nighttime wake-up calls. Whoops.
Be present. One of the whole purposes of practice is to let it all go and to be in the moment when you’re on your mat. In time, you take that lesson to life and work towards being present in each moment. I will say that I have seen that come to play in how I interact with my kids and having greater attention for the task at hand. It’s nice being a little more productive and aware.
It’s about love. I posted this just now on Facebook because it was really on my heart.
The teachings we discuss on yoga philosophy all tie in so closely to what I already currently believe…and it only confirms to me even more that it all comes down to love.
There are really so many other things I have learned that I couldn’t even begin to express fully in one post. And I look forward to the many things I know I will continue to learn. Namaste.
What’s a lesson you have learned from doing yoga…or any other workout for that matter?