Yoga and me

Many times in our lives we make a decision, and at the time we make it, we don’t even really think about it; it is just another in a long string of decisions we may make in any given day. But years later, you look back, and you realize that decision was a big deal. It was life changing. This is exactly what my decision to learn yoga turned out to be.

In November of 2010 I decided to take a beginners yoga series at a studio that was just a few blocks from my house. I had been wanting to do something that would get me moving for a year or so, but for many reasons I just hadn’t done it. Gyms were places I didn’t enjoy and there wasn’t one conveniently located; so that was out. I already walked a lot, but I wanted something that was a bit more intentional, something that felt like I was doing it for me.

I prepaid for the month of twice weekly classes and then dutifully attended each one. When they were over I started to go to regular classes. I found a teacher I liked, a style I liked, and it was convenient. So I just kept going. My studio shut down and I felt a bit bereft without it; I needed to find a new teacher and studio. Yoga had become that important to me. It became so much more than just exercise. It has evolved into the place where I learn the most about myself in ways I never expected.

I’m a person who wants to be able to do everything perfectly the first time around, and with yoga I couldn’t. I wasn’t able to just flip into some crazy arm balance. I needed to use props to properly hold poses. And sometimes I got tired and just had to check myself out of the vinyasa flow for a moment. This was hard for me, it was hard to not be perfect right off the bat, it was hard not to compare myself to the other students, especially the ones that are incredibly flexible. It was hard not to desire to be able to do the poses “perfectly.” But the thing is, in yoga, perfect doesn’t really exist. And every day you are on the mat, your body is different, so what you are capable of is different.

Yoga has changed my body, in surprising ways to be honest, but it has also changed my mind and the way I view life. I have learned it’s best to keep my eyes on my mat and looking inward. When I focus on my body and my mind, the whole experience is so much better. It means that I can do what is right for me each time I step onto the mat.

This lesson has spilled over into the rest of my life. Instead of focusing on what is happening to other people in the industry or what I assume is happening, I am focusing on my world and where I’m going. Instead of spending my time thinking about the things I don’t have, I am focusing on our home and what we do have. I am working towards being content with what is in front of me, because the reality is, it is enough.

Yoga continues to change me; every time I step on the mat, chant a mantra, or read a bit of yogic philosophy, I am changed. But what is wonderful about it, is that the journey is what is important in yoga, not reaching a specific goal. As I continue to try to focus on the journey and the now (and it is a struggle many days), I am inching towards becoming more content with exactly where I am at.

Thanks to the book Poser: My life in twenty-three yoga poses for introducing me to the concept of keeping my eyes on my mat.