As we get ready to celebrate what the Queen has been doing for the last 60 years of her life, it got me thinking about just one of the things I’ve been doing the longest in MY life (that’s 20 years of yoga – give or take) and what it’s given me.
I’ll share my hard-earned gem. The most valuable lesson I have learned in my ~20 years of yoga practice, is that how one is on the yoga mat is a reflection of how one is in life, and vice versa. It’s the one little space within which all of our behaviours and attitudes towards ourselves really get to display themselves in all their glory; And yet, we can still be totally blind to them if someone doesn’t open our eyes to the fact.
Chances are, if you’re enthusiastic and dedicated to your yoga practice on the mat, you’re likely to apply the same energy to other aspects of your life. Conversely, if you’re lazy on the mat and don’t put effort into each asana, you’re quite possibly not giving your 100% to certain aspects of your life either. When I say effort, I mean effort WITHOUT struggle. We can put a gentle effort into everything we do, if we care enough about it. It’s the struggle in the mind which creates the resistance to how joyfully we can achieve our daily (and life) goals.
Just think about it… if you’re putting in the effort with struggle, a grumbling mind and an overall resistance to achieving the goal, you’re less likely to make it happen. But when you drop the struggle and just ‘do’, the effort you exert is so much more fruitful. Similarly, if you find yourself competing with other yogi’s on their mats around you, just reflect on whether you do that at work, socially, or at home with the ones you love. We know that competing with other yogi’s around you is pointless – your yoga journey is exactly that. YOUR yoga journey.
We often only use about 30% of our lung capacity. But when we make use of our full lung capacity, every inhalation has the potential to energise the body more and every exhalation removes more toxins from the body (as 80% of the body’s toxins are expelled through the breath – fact). So, more energy and less toxins in the body. And that’s just by breathing a little bit more deeply. A smile on the face, even if its fake, causes all the muscles in the face to relax and actually causes the brain to secrete more serotonin (the happy hormone) into the body – fact. So smiling (even if its fake) makes your body happier which makes you smile (for real), and so the beautiful cycle continues.
I could go on. And on. And on….
With yoga you can experience and appreciate how big a difference the little things can make. We can give that little extra effort to achieve perfection with comfortability. We can cultivate a more positive outlook which leads to better habits. And from that centred and aware space, we can begin to make the changes we really want to see in our lives. We can be the change. Knowing this is the silent secret that yogi’s keep in their hearts and project through their being.
Now tell me that isn’t the best lesson you can learn from yoga?