Lessons Yoga Can Teach You
Typically what I have found with yoga is that people initially fall in love with it because of how it makes them feel. They come to the mat looking to relax, to heal, or to get in shape. They fall in love with how they feel during and after class. After some time this love tends to deepen and you begin to explore all the facets of yoga.
What I love most about yoga is just how much you can learn. Yoga, in all of its limbs, is an incredible teacher. Today, I am sharing the biggest lessons I have learned both on and off the mat.
Listen to my body
I used to be a HIIT fiend and a cardio lover. I would push my body to the breaking point, shower, and do it all over again the next day. I told myself if I wasn’t sore I wasn’t working. I would hit the gym 6 days a week regardless of how I was feeling.
Now, it’s a different story. There is power in listening to your body. I ease off when I am sick, hurt, or tired. I amp it up if I am feeling particularly energetic. I run when I feel like it and when I don’t I take long walks. I do core because I enjoy it and stopped shoulder pressing because it hurt. Yoga taught me to listen to my body, to respect it and to do what feels right. In turn, your body will reward you by feeling better and working more efficiently for you.
Ever try to hold a down dog for three minutes or slowly drop into chaturanga. It’s a heck of a lot harder than flowing through it as fast as you can. Don’t get me wrong there is a time for building tapas and a time when slow flows are better.
Yoga taught me the strength required to go slow. TBH this is a lesson I have carried with me off the mat. As the world’s least patient person learning to go slow and to hold have been invaluable lessons.
Be mindful of my food
This kind of builds off of listening to my body. As I became more in tune with my body and how certain foods make me feel I became more mindful of what I was eating. I learned quickly that dairy really effected my body in a negative way. As a vegetarian prior to this realization it was enough to make the switch to vegan. If you want to read about that a little bit you can go here.
After being vegan for a while I had some other hard truths to realize. I love french fries. I often order them as sides and sometimes even as an appetizer. After some time being mindful of my eating I realized that fried food can be upsetting and that some fries are good for the soul but too many can be too much of a good thing.
I’m not saying that by doing yoga you have to be vegan. But as a result of the mindfulness I cultivated in my practice I became more aware of what did or did not work for me and my body.
This one firmly resides in the “lessons hot yoga taught me” category. If you don’t know if you are drinking enough water, go to a hot yoga class. You will learn real quick if you are hydrating enough.
On the days that I hadn’t gotten enough water in prior to my hot practice I was acutely aware of it in every down dog, balancing pose, and forward fold.
Whereas on the days that I was hydrated hot yoga felt, dare I say it, enjoyable? Drink your water kids, it’s a miracle liquid.
Check your ego
This is a lesson that can only be learned the hard way. And unfortunately, hard learned lessons in yoga are usually delivered in the form of an injury. My ego loves to show off. My ego loves to be the best in the room (laughable now when I think about it). My ego gets me hurt. I have jammed wrists and strained hamstrings because my darn ego wanted me to push it.
Instead of looking at the girl next to you and her perfect bird of paradise pose and thinking “I can do that, watch me!” silently (or out loud) applaud her and work on the building block poses to get there yourself.
You can always learn more
Like most things in life you are never done learning yoga. My gosh, every time I think I mastered a pose or sequence I see someone else approach it in a different way or push themselves.
You are never done learning, there are countless ways to combine poses, to flow, and to challenge yourself.
This, to me, is what makes yoga so fun. It’s like being back in gymnastics class as a kid.
There is power in repetition
The more you do something the better you get. This is never been truer than in a yoga class. You can bet that my 100th down dog is better than my 10th and my 150th will be better than my 100th. The more you practice the better you get.
Practice and all is coming amiright?
There you go! The lessons yoga has and will continue to teach me. Have you learned any of these? Any that I may not have learned (yet)?