September is National Yoga Month and as an avid yogi, this couldn’t be more exciting. Why? I get to share all the joy and lessons this practice has not only brought me but thousands of others.
If you haven’t started your yoga journey, I could probably tell you a million reasons why you should. Of course, you don’t have to become a yogi master to incorporate this workout in your routine, but even just practicing once a week can yield great benefits for the mind and body.
Of course, the body benefits through yoga thanks to it being an excellent way to “detox” the lymphatic system, increase flexibility and work muscles you may not otherwise know existed. However, how it improves your mind and the valuable lessons it teaches are the real investment worth noting.
Below are 10 valuable lessons I learned through regular practice.
1. Things That Are Worth It Do Not Come Easy
We all want something, whether it’s a certain income or to be able to do that certain pose. In either scenario, these things don’t just happen because you sat down and wished for it. Things come when you practice or work regularly towards your goal or whatever you want to achieve. Once you reach one goal, you will find you are vying for something else and so the cycle continues.
2. There Is Nothing To Gain From Being Overly Attached To Your Ego
“The process is more important than the results.” A yoga instructor of mine once whispered this to me as my face scrunched up into a grimace after falling from a Warrior 3 stance. At the time I was frustrated and embarrassed because of the difficulty I was having with a pose I can typically perform well and regularly. But then I realized I had to check myself. Why do I care what other people think when they do not know how my leg has been aching for days or my body is really sore from my long runs? What other people think is simply exterior. As long as you know how dedicated and passionate you are (to come in and at least make attempts at what you feel is nearly impossible) that is all that matters.
3. There Is Nothing To Gain From Pushing Yourself (And Others) To The Extreme
Some people may feel that pushing and shoving their way through life will get them somewhere, but yoga has taught me otherwise. Just like your body will punish you if you attempt to punish it (for example by pushing yourself into a pose you are not warmed up for), the karma you will receive from outside forces will come back for you if you do things in an impatient way. Go with the flow sounds too cliché but it’s an excellent way to live life. That is not to say you should not strive for new achievements, but there’s no reason to hurt yourselves or others while you are at it.
4. With Consistent Practice, Anything Is Possible
If you want to achieve something (just as I stated in lesson #1) it will not be easy and it will require regular, consistent practice. It’s hard to compare yourself to someone who has mastered more poses than you, but it is doubly important to take into consideration that they were once in the same position you were in. Once you advanced your skill level in yoga after dozens upon dozens of sweaty mat sessions, you will realize that a similar logic can be applied in work, relationships, etc.
5. The Body Only Goes Where The Mind Is Willing To Take You
Negative thoughts breed negative outcomes. When I first tried tripod headstand I was scared. Would I crack my neck? Tip over? Naturally, I didn’t manage it, but I kept trying and kept shifting my way of thinking to: This easy, my arms are strong and I have been doing this for some time now. Slowly but surely, getting away from fear and towards confidence in my abilities reaped positive rewards.
6. Silence Is The Best Remedy
Sometimes all you want to do after a stressful day or confrontation is scream and shout. Unfortunately, this kind of reaction stems from the ego. It’s like when a rooster puffs out its chest to show its masculinity, but you know what works even better in times of stress? Silence. Shavasana teaches us that even after challenges, giving our body and mind the time to process it all will help us reap more rewards or understand lessons learned.
7. Falling Is Part Of The Process
If we were always succeeding, what kind of lessons would we learn? More often than not, failures teach us lessons. Sometimes we fall from bird of paradise and sometimes we don’t get that promotion from work. You can be upset about it for a second, but it is important to gather yourself back up, set your next intention from the lesson you learned and move on.
8. Patience Really Is A Virtue
It can be hard in a world of “quick fixes” and “21 Day Diets” to believe that you can see results unless they’re FAST, but guess what? The things that are most worth it in life are the ones that may take the longest to achieve. I was practicing yoga regularly for well over a year before I was able to do steady inversions. Perhaps I am a particularly special case and others can do it more quickly, but whether you are a fast learner or a slow learner, you have to go through it sans agitation and with all the patience and good will in the world.
9. Balance Really Is Key
Balance and core work is evident throughout yoga, but it should also be something to strive for in your personal and work life. As a matter of fact, there are so many facets of life to balance from food, relationships, personal, health, professional, etc. It can sometimes feel impossible to give each area the attention it deserves, but if you truly put in the effort to achieve it, you will be happier than ever before.
10. Being In Touch With Your Feelings Doesn’t Make You Weak
When people or things would hurt me I would stifle the tears, scared that it might show weakness, and you know what? That was wrong. At the end of a yoga class during a particularly tranquil shavasana I really felt that I couldn’t hold it in any longer and tears started streaming down my face. I don’t know what it was, but in that moment I felt the floodgates of my emotions literally burst open, but I didn’t feel weak. It was much stronger of me to accept my truths and let them manifest physically than not being able to confront them and keep them bottled up inside. Being open to how you feel is where true strength lies in your relationship with yourself, your friends, your family and even in romantic partners. However, reaching this strength is a process you must undergo yourself.
What are some yoga lessons you’ve learned through practice?