5 Lessons I’ve Learned on my Yoga Mat Part II
Yoga has taught me so much about life. One reason I love to practice yoga, and teach yoga, is that it appears to be a parallel process for life. What I mean is that we often practice yoga with the same mental and relational patterns that we go through life with. By observing what patterns we bring onto our mat, we can learn so much about ourselves, our blocks and barriers in life, and begin to make changes on the mat that carry over to changes in our lives. Read Part I of this post here
Discipline equals freedom. In the yoga philosophy, it is said that two of our causes of suffering include our attachment to pleasure and our aversion or avoidance of suffering. If you can maintain a consistent, disciplined yoga practice in which you practice regardless of what’s going on in your life and don’t skip the hard postures, you begin to gain a sense of mastery over this pattern of avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. In this way, you gain freedom from the control pleasure and pain have over you. I used to be much more lackadaisical, thus controlled by my own pleasure and pain until I learned that discipline equals freedom. I’m not perfect, but I’m much freer as a result of the discipline yoga has helped me to cultivate and respect.
The postures you hate the most, are the ones you need the most. This concept is also related to our tendency to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Often times we want to slack off in the hard postures, or avoid them all together. If we give into this urge, we only end up feeding our patterns to seek pleasure and avoid pain. By giving your all to the postures you hate the most, you support your liberation from this pattern of behavior. You also build the strength and resolve physically that’s preventing you from enjoying the posture.
How you practice one thing is how you practice all things. Oftentimes our thought and behavioral patterns show up in all aspects of our lives, especially when we’re faced with difficult tasks or discomfort. Yoga is a perfect opportunity to observe these thought patterns or behavioral patterns. Cultivating this awareness on the mat of these patterns supports the cultivation of awareness of these patterns in everyday life. Similarly, changing these patterns on the mat supports changes off the mat.
Practice and all is coming. I have attempted yoga postures that feel impossible, and then with time and consistent effort, I’ve found I’m able to do them. Practice and all is coming refers to this phenomena, our ability to accomplish amazing things, and to peel away all our internal barriers. Never underestimate the power of consistent, steady effort. Also, focusing your energy on your practice, on the present is where you ultimately have the power to affect the future or the result. Detach from the result and enjoy the journey.
There’s so much to learn in the journey. Yoga, is really about the process or practice. From my own experience, the results are actually not that exciting. I’ve had my sights set on getting a posture for months, only to find that when I finally get it, it’s no big deal. The journey, and the effort, and the lessons learned along the way were really the gifts of the experience. The same is true for life. We often times get so caught up in a goal we forget about enjoying the ride, or about taking a little more time so we can savor the experience. The beauty is in the process.
These lessons have all been truly pivotal in the course of my life. I may not have found my way to them, had it not been for yoga. It is my hope, that they find their way to you and your heart as well.