In October, Markus and I would be yoga teachers for three years. Isn’t that cool? Since the pandemic started, there have been no yoga retreats for us but we cultivate the practice at home and continue to learn more about life through it. Today, I thought I would share a few useful lessons on the mat that easily translate to more wellness off the mat.
Let us begin where we are.
Every practice is unique. The postures are our expression of the postures. It does not have to look like anyone else’s. As long as we are using our muscles correctly, then that is just about it. Practicing yoga teaches us to focus on ourselves. We are are own reference points, not others.
We are different every day.
A pigeon pose may feel good on Monday, a challenge on Tuesday, and next to impossible on Wednesday. Our bodies are different every day, so are our minds and spirit. It is normal to have ups and downs on and off the mat. Isn’t it boring if we are the same all the time? There is grace in listening to our bodies and allowing ourselves to just be without judgment.
Distractions, frustrations, and limitations are part of the practice.
In meditation class, students sometimes give up prematurely simply because they think they cannot focus. They chastise their minds for wandering off and feel bad for their inability to practice correctly. But what do they even mean by that?
There is no right or wrong way to meditate, is there? We just sit there and allow what comes to come and let go of what goes. When we notice the mind getting distracted, pull it back to the breathe. It is normal and not a failure. In fact, this is the reason why we keep practicing!
We deserve kindness, too.
Isn’t it fascinating how it is almost automatic for us to support our friends and defend them from negativity coming from themselves or hurled by other people but it sometimes do not occur to us to be nice to ourselves in the same way?
Let us listen to our thoughts and imagine saying similar things to someone we love. Would you do it and find it fair and acceptable? It can honestly be shocking how we treat ourselves sometimes. Down the line, we are all we got. It is time we learn to back ourselves up.
Most of it is learning to let go.
Of expectations, obsessions, resentment, pain, anxiety, projections, tensions, hopes, and on and on it goes. How light can life be if we are not carrying as much? It is not always easy or possible but we can try every day to face it with openness and curiosity, to let it flow than wrestle with it, or force it to take this or that form.
We can find more freedom in letting go. It is hard, of course, that is why we practice. Hopefully, one day we can begin to trust our abilities to handle anything as they come or at least learn to be firm in the knowledge that we will always do the best we can.
I remember reading it somewhere, how birds do not rely on branches not breaking but in their ability to fly. I find a lot of comfort in that thought. Whatever happens, we will be fine.