Lessons From the Yoga Mat

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~~ Mahatma Gandhi

(Photo courtesy of infed)

This past week has been one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in quite some time, for one simple reason…I said “Yes” to way too many things for one week. It was a great week, don’t get me wrong…I had a lot of great stuff happen. But it was GO, GO, GO all week long, and I was a bit overwhelmed.

The old me would’ve had a full-blown panic attack, complete with heart palpitations and everything. I would have been yelling at the people I love most, and angry. I’ve gotta admit that when I realized everything I’d committed to this past week, I really thought that’s how I’d react. I steeled myself for the typical behavior I exhibit when I’m under pressure.

But as the week went on, though I WAS stressed and tired, and maybe even a little bit anxious, I handled it. And as I reflect on it today, I am in a good mood…so NOT the typical me.

I credit my yoga practice, for this past year, as you know if you’ve read my blog for awhile, I’ve really worked hard to bring all of the tenets of yoga into my life. And reflecting back on this past week, I think it’s working. There are so many lessons yoga has to teach us, if we just open ourselves up to listen. Here’s what I’ve learned:


It seems so simple, but it’s amazing how much it really helps when things get tough! When we’re stressed, our breathing is shallow. But when we take deep and slow breaths, it changes our bodies on a cellular level. Take some deep breaths whenever you think of it and notice how much focus, energy and calmness you’ll receive.

Do what’s best for YOU.

I say this all the time to my yoga students…don’t worry about what others are doing on their mats, or what their goals are…what is it that has brought YOU to your mat?  Do what’s right for you and try to learn and grow.  Be okay with where you are in the present moment, but have goals about where you want to go.

Find your edge, and you’ll find your strength.

I always tell my students to find their edge, especially when working on a really challenging pose. When the muscles are burning, it means you’re getting stronger. Isn’t this same thing true in life? We all face situations outside of our comfort zone now and then, and those seem to be the situations that we learn the most from, and gain inner strength from, when challenged.

Let go of what does not serve you.

When you can let go of stress that you’ve been holding on to, when you can clear negative thoughts running through your mind, when you can clear out the “junk” in your mind and body — that’s when everything makes sense. It’s amazing the clarity you’ll have when you can let go of all the negativity.

Listen to your body.

I always tell my students to pay attention to the signs their body is giving them in a practice…if you aren’t breathing well, or if something hurts, that’s usually a sign that you’re not in the right place. You have to listen to your body and respect how you feel. Same in life…try to listen to your instincts, that gut feeling. If something feels wrong, listen to your inner voice…it’s usually right.

So what about you? What lessons have you learned from yoga? There are so many other things I’ve learned, but the above are the ones that I come back to the most. I’d love to know your thoughts.



Categories Yoga

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