So. last year I lied. I told you I was going to do the 30-day yoga challenge. I did not. But now I have, yay! I was mad at myself in the beginning. Mad for not starting sooner, mad that if I had started sooner I would be better by now and mad that I did not do what I said I would do. However, now that I have started again I have begun to realise that there are some lessons to learn in life and just like any other sport- yoga can teach you those lessons. Below I have my top five lessons that I think we should all remember.
- Lesson One- Breathe.
Apart from that age-old wives tale of you need to breathe to live, breathing is one of the key factors of yoga…and to life (other than not dying). During my week-long yoga practice, it hurt! But I was pleasantly surprised by the power of breathing. It did not necessarily make me reach further, sit taller or even make a move less painful but concentrating on deep, slow and controlled breathing not only took my mind off the pain and the wobbles but also helped me to assess the move, think about where I was putting my hands and feet and to understand any area that I need to work on and most importantly not be scared to keep going even though it was not perfect. In the world outside yoga, concentrating on breathing during times of uncertainty can help reassess the situation, think about your next move but most importantly: staying calm. It’s OK to be worried, scared and not know what the hell you are doing but taking a second to think and breath can make all the difference between what you did and what you should have done. Another thing to think about is if you’re in a confrontational discussion with someone perhaps breathing deeply and listening carefully not only stops you from saying something you wish you didn’t but also..maybe just maybe we will all listen to each other and HEAR what others have to say.
- Lesson Two- It’s OK to suck.
My muscles are tight, my flexibility is shot and my balance leaves MUCH to be desired, but that’s not a good enough reason to quit. Starting yoga for the first time and watching the bendy and calm yoga instructor talk whilst slowly walking me through a yoga pose seems impossible when I feel like my leg might snap and my lung might collapse because this is the third time I’ve been told to exhale and this is the third time I’ve forgotten to do that. I was told the down dog pose it actually a resting posture but on day one it absolutely did NOT feel like one! But now, I long for it, I find strength in it; basically, now I don’t suck it at. Not being spectacularly perfect at something on your first go is normal and quite frankly is something you should expect any time you learn something new. In yoga, it’s OK that you are not as flexible, quick, graceful and skillful as the instructor in front of you and the only way to be like them is to not give up and keep trying. In life starting a new job, project, sport, hobby or project is not going to be perfect that first time, it may not even be good the first few times but it’s OK that it’s not. It’s OK to need to keep trying. The sense of accomplishment of perfecting even a small detail of your new endeavour is priceless to the regret and guilt of giving up after your first try.
Which segues perfectly into:
- Lesson Three- Do NOT compare yourself to other people.
Over this past week, I have watched video after video of yoga and seen everything that everybody else can do whilst I’m just super thrilled I can now stand in a lunge without falling down. The more I have thought and watched and stretched I have realised that my accomplishments are in fact accomplishments, the yogis that I have been watching are in fact amazing but that does NOT make what I am achieving any less. It’s really the same with ANYTHING in life. If you look at what you have compared to everyone else sure, it may feel like you have everything against some but nothing against others. What if you looked at everything you had and have done and compare it to you last week, month or year. What if you’re fitter, stronger, richer, more cultured than past you; is that not something to celebrate? Can you not look at what someone else has and be happy for their happiness and your own? Don’t take the magic out of your own life by focusing on someone else’s. You are here, you are alive, be grateful. Strive for bigger and better things without slowing yourself down focusing on what everyone else has. If right now, I can absolutely kill it at down dog then that is more than I could do last week and I have officially improved!
- Lesson Four- Be present.
You can NOT rush yoga, you cannot make yourself more flexible or balanced by going through the moves as quickly as possible in as few breaths as possible, and really it’s less fun. You stood on the mat today because you wanted to take time for you and that time is the most important time today. Do. Not. Rush. Take your time, breathe, stretch, sit in child’s pose for 40 minutes if you have to, whatever it takes for you to be aware of you and where you are today. Allow yourself to think about you and what is happening right now. Had a bad day at work? Not on the mat you didn’t. That person you like, like you like like hasn’t texted back until now? They can wait. You have a pile washing? It’s not getting any dirtier where it is. Over the last 13 days (honestly except one I swear) once my feet touched that mat I made a commitment to myself that this what time for me, this was my moment, this was just mine…ok, the dog was there too but you know what I’m saying. It’s the same in life. Focus on the task at hand whatever it may be even if it is ‘you’ time. That is the time to focus on that activity and nothing else. At work, work. Don’t text your friends about how shit work is, do work and maybe just maybe it’ll get done. At dinner with your love, be at dinner with your love. Listen to them, talk to them, embrace the fact that in our busy lives you have found time to be with each other. You get my point.
- Lesson Five, and my last BIG lesson- Be happy and have fun!
Yoga, sport, hobbies, life it’s all mean to be fun. There are times yes for seriousness and concentration but not every second of every day has to be laugh-free. Smile during yoga, it hurts and sometimes it’s hard but allow yourself to enjoy the moment, laugh at the fact you looked like a drunk pigeon in some poses, smile because instead of doing something or being somewhere you don’t want to be you are here, on the mat, allowing yourself to become a better person in whatever way you choose. Always always ALWAYS find a way to be happy no matter where you are or what you’re doing. There’s a negative in everything and it’s usually the easiest thing to see first if you really want to. But, take the time to make a boring day fun, embrace the Netflix binge day if you want one. Find the magic in life, during the times when it’s the hardest to find, is when you will cherish and treasure it the most. Life is more fun when you’re happy, so find what, who and where makes you happy and do that.
Yes, I agree, life is hard and sometimes it throws just big old piles of shit at you when you were just minding your own business and it’s OK to cry and to be sad, disappointed and frustrated. It’s OK to need help to get through the bad times and it’s OK to not be the best you every single second of every single day. But you owe it to yourself to pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and find a way to be happy again. Find beauty in everything and beauty will find a way in you ❤
That’s it. Those are my lessons. There are so many more out there and so much more we can teach ourselves and others and I invite you to share your lessons…this is my good start.