We as individuals are constantly evolving and learning more about ourselves. The past year for me has been especially eye-opening and I’ve learned a lot about who I am, what I want and what’s important to me. Yoga, funnily enough, was one driving force in that process. While my alcohol consumption has not diminished significantly, if you ask any of my friends and family they will tell you that I’m not the same person as I was a year ago.
I used to think Yoga was for hippy dippy people who liked to chant – and there certainly is that subset of people who practice yoga (and that’s fine too!) – I’ve found that it is more than that and can appreciate it a little bit more now that I have a better sense of what I want yoga to do for me, and what kind of practice works for me. Here are a few things I’ve personally learned from practicing yoga.
Guess what? Practicing physical Yoga poses are not the only way to practice Yoga while you’re on the road! Click here for 20 easy ways to incorporate Yoga into your travels!
1. Yoga can be a great form of exercise – not just mental, but physical too
I grew up playing basketball, netball, swimming, running – I always thought that if you didn’t sweat, it didn’t count (Thanks, Dad). This meant running for 90 minutes several times a week, trying to burn 800 calories in every session and lots and lots of laundry. I now have a dodgy hip and knees that ache and lock if I sit for too long. It’s as pleasant as it sounds.
Practicing yoga has taught me that it’s not “easy” exercise with a bunch of light stretching – it builds muscle and you can see and feel yourself getting stronger. It’s also helped me to become a better runner/swimmer and helped with recovery. Oh – and yes, yoga makes me sweat buckets.
2. Give yourself a little breathing room
I used to have two phones – one for work as well as a personal phone. I was constantly on one of my phones – replying to e-mails, checking messages, making calls. When I left my old job last November, it was almost uncomfortable having so much time to myself – “Me” time was never a priority over the past few years, and I see now that it made me not a very nice person to be around. My friends are saints, truly. Yoga is my “me” time now. It’s okay to want to carve some time out for yourself and do the things you enjoy doing, and be guilt-free about it. Down time = yas.
Feel like you need to disconnect? Click here to read more about what to expect from participating in a silent Yoga retreat!
3. Don’t be so hard on yourself
I used to beat myself up over missing a gym session. The next day, I’d double up and work out for twice as long. It’s no wonder I was constantly tired, achy and prone to injury. Everyone has days where they just can’t be bothered and would rather eat a large pepperoni pizza and chocolate lava cake. Yoga has taught me that it’s alright. Some days, I can’t go into a full wheel pose – sometimes I just want to do bridge pose – and sometimes I stick a block under my sacrum and do assisted bridge and call it a day.
Learning to be comfortable with not over-exerting myself and “being lazy” has helped me to progress faster – may seem counter-intuitive, I know, but accepting that I can take it easy occasionally has made me look forward to getting to practice yoga, which means I now practice more regularly and frequently.
4. Practice makes “perfect”
This is a great thing about yoga – the results are very visible and you get what you give. I used to hate headstands – they hurt my head and gave me migraines. I still don’t love them, but I love that I can now get myself into a headstand and keep upright. It constantly gives you something to work towards and improve on, and has taught me to stay motivated and not to give up so quickly if it feels like you’re plateauing.
It’s also important to remember that the pose is not a goal and comparison (with others and yourself) is not what Yoga is about – there are so many other elements to Yoga that shouldn’t be overlooked! Want to learn more about the 8 limbs? Check this out! #yogaismorethanasanas
5. Be still
I wouldn’t say that I have a short fuse. But all of my friends and family probably would. When you’re practicing yoga, you breathe into a pose, even if it’s uncomfortable, and when you’re lying in Savasana you let your body consciously take in the effects of your session (learn how to truly surrender in Savasana here). I’ve learned to be a little less reactive and a little more still in my daily life, to take a breath, and take the time to think about how I want to react before throwing something against a wall. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always margaritas.
Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom. – Viktor Frankl
What have you learned from practicing yoga? Share your thoughts with me below!