Dinking around on Pinterest the other day (shocker), I came across a pin for a blog post about five lessons learned from a woman’s year on the mat and my breath caught for a moment in my chest. It took that second for the pieces to click, but wow – I totally could have written that tagline, especially since the one-year anniversary of my practice is swiftly approaching at the end of this month. Crazy (pants). Rather than read it (I promise, I will go back and find it/share it because it’s only fair to give credit where credit is due), I decided to write my own. So here you go: Five Lessons from My Year on the Mat:
1) Music heals my soul. This is not really new news, but holy mother of wow – the music is as much a part of my practice as the movements. It is what drew me instantly to avani and made doing my 200 at Lotus House a no brainer. Both studios are well-versed in song and the teachers at both places know the power of a well-played tune. Sequencing my classes to teach? Awesome. Making the playlists to go along with each one? Even more awesome. It’s beautiful how music can reach inside and touch or heal a part of you (and thank goodness for Spotify so I didn’t blow our entire budge on iTunes this last year. Oof!)
2) Crazy pants are awesome. I get it. Crazy pants are not the point of yoga. Neither are pairs that cost $100 (which, for the record, I do not own). Yoga is not about what you wear or from what store you get you gear. It’s just not. That being said, I love me a good pair of crazy yoga pants. To me they represent the fun and flavor and flare that can accompany one’s journey on the mat because so much freedom and confidence can come from yoga, so why not embrace the crazy pants if/when you can? I like the expressiveness and daringness that can come from sporting some funky leg wear (and yes, I have a pair dubbed the “Eff You, Tuesday” pants which probably doesn’t seem very yoga of me, but some days are just special, ya know?). So even though crazy pants are nowhere near the eight limbs, you won’t find me complaining that they are part of today’s yoga scene in the States. My inner teenager – the one who was not always confident enough to wear the crazy pants back in the day – is flying her freak flag high and loving every minute of it.
3) Yoga is soooo much more than the physical practice. Perhaps I am lucky because I did not originally come to the mat for a workout. Actually, I know I am lucky for that because exercise in the past has been an unhealthy obsession for me, but since I came to yoga to help quiet/slow/calm my mind, the physical benefits of it sort of snuck up on me. After a few months, I could hold poses better and longer. After six months I had muscles in places that haven’t seen strength or tone since B.C. (which basically puts me back to 2008). And after my 200YTT? I had some pretty kick ass muscles (and others that just felt kicked, but there you go – balance – another benefit of yoga!). in a lot of places! And while the physical poses are obviously important, I’ve learned that the mental and emotional and spiritual components are just as powerful. Maybe even more so. Living your yoga? That’s where the real transformation comes from and comes into play. Taking the “you” on the mat (strong, beautiful, loved) and carrying that through your day-in-day-out? That’s beginning and living the true work, my friends.
4) Shit’s gonna change. I suppose there’s a more PG way to say that, but I don’t think any of the PG ways would really carry the same meaning. Some shit is going to get better. Some shit is going to have to get much worse before it starts to get better. And some shit might come up again and again and again. That’s life. That’s part of the practice. The point is that you keep coming back to the practice, back to the mat, back to yourself to try again. Maybe it’s a pose. Maybe it’s your breath. Maybe it’s your brain working through stuff (see – there I used PG and I don’t know – it’s just not the same) you didn’t even know was there. Maybe it’s learning to walk away from shit that no longer serves you, whether that takes the form of thoughts, behaviors, people, or all of the above. It’s not easy. But it is real and it is learning to live to the best of your ability and what greater gift can you give yourself but that?
5) A year can change everything. Some people believe that people, as a general rule, do not change. I have to disagree. While I am not a completely different person from a year ago, I am a better version of myself. I’m happier, sleeping better (most of the time), more fit (physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually), and I now get paid when I “go to work” at my dream job. That’s a c.r.a.p. ton of awesome for just 12 short months and a lot of hard work and change, too. So whatever it is that you want to do? Do it. Start now and see where you are in 12 months. You might just go and shock yourself with everything you accomplish, which is what I feel when I look at this last year of yoga. It’s not too late and it’s never the wrong time. Open your heart. Find your center. Stretch – your mind and your body. You might just be amazed at what is waiting to greet you when you do!
Here is the inspiration post – I read it after I wrote my list and I do have to say, some of you might appreciate her No.4 (but like her, I’m going to keep talking about it. A lot.)
With Much Love and Peace – Namaste!