I always tell my students that all our life lessons can be found on our mat. I’ve been practicing yoga for over twenty years and I know this to be true. It sounds very simplistic; however, truth is not complicated.
Lessons #1: Be Present
When you come to your mat, that rectangle (or circle) is your space. It is an area where you can focus on your Self. As a teacher I help bring your attention to your breath, your body, your energy and your Being. When you become aware and connected to different aspects of your Self, you are present. One of the most important cues I give is to notice without judgement. In order to be present, you must release your attachment to judging thoughts. You must learn to simple notice.
Daily Life: Next time you are in a crowded place or an overwhelming situation, practice being present. Use your awareness to simple notice without judgement. You may discover that the situation is not worth your energy. It adds up to having more energy to give to positive situations in your life.
Lesson #2: Just Breathe
Exhale, Inhale is the phrase I use most. I start all my classes with breathing. I have a few breathing techniques I like to work with throughout the class. Breathing helps to focus the mind, calm the nervous system and brings large amounts of oxygen into our body.
Daily Life: Next time you are stress out, exhale, inhale! Take five to ten deep breathes, using your favorite technique. It will calm you down. It’s one of reasons people are instructed to breathe into a bag during a panic attack. If you feeling overwhelmed, breathing will help you focus on the task at hand. Lastly bringing in lots of oxygen will help you with endurance, especially if you must work those extra couple of hours to get the job done! Just breathe!
Lesson #3: Let Go
This is perhaps the hardest part of the practice for many. Letting go of ego, letting go of tension, letting go of limiting thoughts. I like to give people permission to listen to their body and work at their level. I remind them it is not a competition, not even with your Self. We let go of limiting thoughts like should or could and replace them with kindness and gratitude. Savasana is a great time to let go, however for many it is difficult to relax and rest. Sometime it is associate with lack of productivity and self-worth. Our mat helps us understand the we must recharge our bodies in order to be productive.
Daily life: Let go of the competition with others and with your Self. Give yourself permission to listen to your body and your state of being. Treat your body with loving kindness and become aware of limiting thoughts that start with should of, could of. Replace them with positive thoughts of gratitude. Even the hardest trials are opportunities for personal growth and wisdom. Letting go creates space for more worthwhile endeavors. Remember, we are worthy simply because we exist.