2 lessons yoga has taught me.
A few months ago, my dear friend and yoga student Stina Hergott blasted a post on her Pink Moon KC Blog called “10 lessons My Bike Has Taught Me.” It got me thinking. And thinking. And thinking: could I narrow my list of ‘lessons that yoga has taught me’ to a list of 10?
Well. As it turns out, I can synthesize my list to two.
- There is only today.
- There is always tomorrow.
1. There is only today. Yoga is not a hobby or an activity. Yoga is a practice. Which means every time I practice yoga, it’s a practice of learning to be actively engaged in the present moment. The present moment may be super enjoyable. It may be slightly uncomfortable. It is the only moment I have.
Yoga is a meditation on the Spirit that is found within the breath. I can’t breathe into the future and I can’t breathe in the past. Which means I shouldn’t let my mind live in the future and I shouldn’t let my mind live in the past. Which means: there is now. And there is today. And if I desire patience, I practice that today. And if I desire compassion, I practice that today. And if I desire to be filled with God-light, to spread forgiveness, to find moments of hidden healing joy everywhere I look, I practice today. When my shoulder was injured last fall, my daily Ashtanga practice was often excruciating. (As was opening my car door, taking my Russell for a walk, and holding my coffee mug…ugh, much better now, thank you.) So I challenged myself to ask this question when I was practicing: “What if this were my last opportunity to take Downward Facing Dog Pose? If that were the case, how would I want it to feel? How would I want to enjoy it?” Turns out: I would want to SAVOR it. Yoga taught me that there is only today. And today is to be savored.
2. There is always tomorrow. I like to accomplish things. (Some might call me an over-achiever, yes, you, Mimi.) Yoga taught me that it’s ok not to be perfect today. I can attempt a pose (such as Royal Pigeon, which was my New Year’s Resolution in 2008 and I still can’t do!) and not freak out that I can’t do it. I can’t take the full expression of this pose, YET. Yet being the key word here, because there is always tomorrow. I can get back on my mat tomorrow, even if I am sore, or tired, or cranky and: I can try again. My all-time favorite Yoga Inspiration comes from Rolf Gates’ book Meditations from the Mat and it says this:
“We show up, we live passionately, we burn brightly in the moment, and when the moment is over, when our work is done, we step back and let go.”
Yoga taught me that life doesn’t require perfection, it simply requires me to savor the present moment and do my personal best… then let go of the results. This lesson, more than anything else I’ve learned from practicing and teaching yoga, has had the greatest impact on my experience with the world and my often-anxious mind. It has offered me peace of mind, it has calmed my anxiety, and it has truly healed my body and my heart.
There is only today. There is always tomorrow.
What lessons has your yoga practice taught you? Please, share with me. I would love to hear your answer.