What Yoga Taught Me About Self
Mind Your Mat
I am well into my forties and up until a year ago, I found it a struggle to connect with yoga. I tried to rationalize why. It wasn’t challenging enough (boy was that a lie), it wasn’t aggressive enough. It’s too quiet. But the real reason was I felt I wasn’t good at it because I was comparing myself to students that had been practicing for many years. So instead on focusing on self and developing my own practice, I came up with an array of excuses.
What I said: “Yoga isn’t aggressive enough”. What I meant “The only way I know how to deal with self and with other people is to be aggressive. Confrontational. I am not a good listener to self or others”.
What I said: “It’s too quiet” What I was really saying: ” I don’t know how to or I don’t feel comfortable with sitting with self”.
What I said: “I’m no good at this”. What I was really saying: “The girl on the mat next to me is better at this than I am. I wish I was more like her”.
Yoga is one of the most individually unique practices that exist. The very foundation of yoga is the breath. Your breath is what connects you to your body, to Mother Earth, to the Collective. Every one of our bodies is so completely different from every other person. From structure to flexibility etc. so our capabilities will all be different. When we Mind our own mat, we are able to optimize our practice. We are able to expand ourselves, our lives, unlike any other human on this planet. However when we mind other peoples mat, we miss the blessings and opportunities that are happening in our own bodies. This is what happens in life. Sometimes we find ourselves comparing ourselves to others so much, we miss the greatness in our own lives.
Do what your breath allows.
Nothing more. Our prana (breath) is our life force. When we learn to work with our prana, we become more aligned with our bodies and our movements, both on the mat and off. Many times I watch my clients when they have a challenging move and the first thing they do is hold their breath. I try to work with them to let them know that holding the breath is cutting them off from their life force. They will fatigue as the body needs the life force to perform. We must connect the movement to the life force. It takes practice but when we relearn to do this, we will find ourselves able to handle life and asana in a much more optimal way.
Your body wishes to serve you. Be kind to it.
Science has proven that reward is a better motivator than punishment when it comes to behavioral change. Your body is no different. When you are kind to it, when you affirm it, you change your brain patterns which instruct your body. Be kind. Be mindful of what you are thinking because you cannot escape your own thoughts.