Friday, February 14

7 Things I Learned On Love From Yoga…

This year will mark five years in my relationship with yoga, or more accurately, my relationship with me. I could tell you all I learned on love from the good/bad/ugly relationships with family, friends, or partners, but let’s be honest… What I learn based on my perception with other people will never be as fruitful as what I learn from turning to me. And... focusing on myself gives strength to how well I play with others. 

So! 7 things I've learned on love from yoga...

1/ Breath

When you focus your breath into a location of the body that is more tense it brings space into that spot. Then, when you exhale, the tension lets go a little more and you melt closer to relaxation. It’s that melting moment that could only have existed with a little space and patience. 

Every time my temper sneaks up, I remember this. I’m a person who has to fix everything immediately. The thought of someone walking away from me with out resolving an issue tears me apart. But, I’ve learned, a little space allows the temps to cool and for people to see things more clearly—and hopefully become closer as a result.

2/ Stretching + Finding Your Edge

The fastest way for me to hurt myself in yoga is usually during a stretching moment when my ego competes to be better. I’ve learned the hard way that not respecting your edge (the push to challenge yourself without hurting yourself) will end in pain and actually move your yoga practice backwards in time.

Know your edge in other parts of your life too. When is that very moment that someone has crossed your line or, equally important, when you have crossed someone else’s line? At the same time, challenge a healthy relationship—if you don’t reach out to someone (or yourself) how will it evolve?

3/ Strength + Weakness

It’s ok to recognize where you want to improve and where you’re strong. A “weakness” is not a bad thing—it’s good to put that ego into check, and it’s an amazing starting point for tracking your progress. I can’t do push-ups. I can’t do even one push-up. Instead of being hard of myself in the yoga studio for weak upper body strength, I celebrate that moment. How exciting to watch myself progress through a challenge. How exciting to recognize potential in myself.

This one is hard for me to take off the mat and into the rest of my life. I’m my worst critic… and instead of immediately celebrating a starting point I’m defeated by my weaknesses. My ego has been checked so many times, I should live permanently in the penalty box. Often I need to stop, visualize myself working through a challenge on the mat, get into that positive mindset, and then return to whatever I'm up against outside of the studio.

4/ Balance

Some times you feel like a nut, some times you don’t. No seriously—some days you will stick it and be as strong as a mountain. Other days you’ll be all over the place like Bambi on ice. Most days… it will be both.

Balance, as we all know already, is so valuable in all parts of life. It’s also really hard to achieve at certain points in the day, or the week, or during a year (or more) of transition! Grow strong, deep roots—so when the wind picks up, you bend and sway, but don’t blow over. And while we're on the tree metaphor—remember there are seasons too. Moments to come to life and burst with energy, but also moments to hibernate and retain energy. Both are times to respect and enjoy.

5/ Being Present

When we do our centering work at the beginning of class, regularly we are told to acknowledge the thoughts of past and future but then let them go. Now is your time, for you, on the mat. What happened has happened—what you have to do after class, you should do after class… not now.

Learning to take each day as that day presents itself is an incredible lesson. Pay attention to what it’s saying—maybe you need detach from the outside world and focus on some personal nurturing. Or maybe you have so much energy today you can use it to help someone else. Maybe, who cares about any of that, and you just enjoy watching a squirrel play in your back yard for the next 20 minutes. Being present you learn to appreciate all that is beautiful around you, all you can be grateful for.

6/ Awareness

Tuning in to yourself is incredible.  Having awareness of pain—you take it easier on yourself. Having awareness of strength—you celebrate yourself. Having awareness of ego—you humble yourself.

I’m pretty sure awareness is half the battle—to retraining the brain out of bad habits, to recognizing unnecessary tension in a moment and letting it go, to allowing yourself to be what you are being at that very moment instead of deflecting, repressing, or judging.  

7/ There’s Always Another Level + This is Enough

I love yoga because it never bores me. There’s always a different variation — a larger pose your mind can’t even process yet. It is always new. It is always exciting. And you welcome it through the eyes of a child on her birthday morning. But you welcome it, when it's time to welcome it. Until then, what you're doing on the mat is enough and really rewarding. 

Oh my gosh—where is this lesson when I'm wishing I had more. I want to live in the country, I want to be married, I want to have kids, I want to make more money, so I can travel more. More, more, more... bleck! When it's time to take life to the next level—you'll do it. Until then, right now is more than enough and, btw,  it's fan-freaking-tastic!

This week in my yoga class with Jodi, she read a poem called Being Home by Danna Faulds—the last line is what brings me to my mat every time:

by Danna Faulds
Where can I soften
in this posture?
Where is the edge
between opening
and force, the line
between stretch and
too much effort?
The mind and body
serve up a feast of
feelings, each breath
another chance to
deepen and release.
The smallest motion,
or even just a quiet
sigh could be all that
I require to shift my
focus from the outer
to the inner realm,
a change from feeling
lost to being home.


In the end... it's not so much that yoga taught me to love myself. No, I've loved myself this whole time. Accepting myself is what I'm really learning, and I will be learning it for the rest of my life as I change and adapt through time.

These past five years of yoga and learning to accept Anni has been a journey of tapping into my ferocity and my kindness. It’s my larger-than-life starting point really, and I’m so grateful to be here… Taking really good care of myself by stepping onto that mat, and attempting to use those lessons through the rest of my day. That is, indeed, everything. 


2 responses: