When I started attending yoga class regularly several months ago, I was expecting a good workout that would help manage my stress levels and ease my back pain. And that’s exactly what I got. But what I wasn’t expecting was the lessons that I learned along the way. Surprisingly, often I find myself applying principles from my yoga class to my life.
It’s funny where little life lessons will sneak up on you.
You don’t have to take a yoga class to appreciate these principles and apply them to your own life.
Set your gaze.
Whenever we’re in a difficult pose, the teacher tells us to set our gaze. Almost every time I wonder: what do my eyes have to do with the burning pain in my thighs?! Then I remember that focus is everything. We stretch in the direction we’re looking. It’s such a simple principle – where we’re looking is where we’re going – but easily forgotten. Set your gaze on where you want to go and the rest will follow.
If you look at others, you’re going to fall.
There’s always a temptation to look around at others. What are they able to do? But when you break your concentration to look around, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to fall out of your own pose. Isn’t that such an applicable reminder for life? If you’re looking around at others – what they can do, what they have, etc. – it can only lead to “falls” in our lives and thoughts. My yoga practice is my own, in the same way that my life and my abilities are my own, and there’s really no good that can come from comparing myself to others.
Embrace the pain of the moment.
Many times in life we want the pain of the moment to go away. We want to fix it as quickly as possible or simply ignore it. Rarely do we embrace the pain and accept it. Yet, what I’ve learned in yoga is that you can ease the pain of the moment by recognizing it, accepting that it is uncomfortable and then breathing through it. I say “moment” because the pain doesn’t last forever. And every time its purpose is to make us stronger.
Don’t forget to breathe.
Which leads me to the next point: Don’t Forget To Breathe! Throughout class, the instructor tells us to breathe. What a funny thing to tell us, right? But surprisingly we usually need the reminder. It’s easy to clamp up and hold it in (breath, pain, frustrations, etc.), rather than release it. But release it, we must (as Yoda would say). Now, whenever I find myself feeling stressed or in pain, I take a deep breath. I may not be able to change the situation but I can remember to breathe.
Take off the training wheels.
Or, in other words, you might be more capable than you think. My yoga practice has made me uncomfortably aware of my tendency of negative self-talk: all the “no, I can’t” talk. Even though my body is doing the work, my mind sets the limits. I’ve been trying to work through those negative thoughts and have surprised myself at the things I WAS able to do, once I told my mind that I could do them. Sometimes I try and fall. And, you know what, that’s ok too. So much of life and our choices come down to our thoughts. Often times, the ability is there, but the willingness to try isn’t. Maybe it’s time to “take off the training wheels” of that project, or goal, etc. and go for it.
Have you found life lessons in a surprising place? Please share in the comments.