When I started practicing yoga during my sophomore year of college, it was purely a way to pass the time during a particularly rough time in my life, as well as a means to get some exercise into my routine. I never knew when I went into it that yoga would have the power to teach me life lessons I never knew I needed. And I certainly never knew it would lead me to become a certified yoga instructor just a couple years down the road.
Yoga is so much more than a form of exercise. The more I get on my mat, the more I learn about life and how to handle its many curve balls. The practice has truly helped shape the person I am today
Here are 13 simple, but deeply significant life lessons yoga has taught me that I hope will resonate with you as well.
1. Fear Is A Waste Of Time
When I started practicing yoga, I was scared of everything from falling in a tree pose and embarrassing myself in front of my peers, to getting upside down and attempting a headstand, and everything in between. This fear translated to all areas of my life.
I had trepidation about relationships, work, and even when it came to just unapologetically being myself.
But once I let go of my anxiety about the uncertainty of the unknown, it genuinely felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
Now, when I feel fear creeping up I use this quote by Hafiz to ground me:
Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I’d like to see you in better living conditions.
2. Life Is Asymmetrical
When I’m teaching my students a pose that requires a mirrored movement on both sides of the body, I tell them to pay attention to the subtle differences they may notice on either side.
Your body is, and will never be, completely symmetrical and neither will your life.
Appreciate the beauty of imperfection and the playful challenge that imbalance brings.
3. Vulnerability Is Beautiful
Heart-opening poses in yoga, such as Urdhva Dhanurasana (wheel pose), basically force you to be vulnerable and beautifully open.
These movements have taught me it’s OK to wear your heart on your sleeve and to be in touch with your emotions.
4. Ignore Your Ego
Many of my teachers have told me an ego is one of the most dangerous things a human can possess.
Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani explains that misuse of the ego is when ignorance [of one’s higher, unified nature] causes the ego to try to bring everyone and everything around it under its control.
For me, my ego is the annoying voice in my head telling me to keep going and do 10 more handstands, even though my body is screaming for a rest.
Being aware of my ego in yoga has translated into so many other aspects of my life, particularly when I’m trying to control and micromanage situations that simply aren’t mine to control.
5. Be Present
Yoga class is literally an hour of you sitting in a quiet room, surrounded by nothing other than your breath and the energy of the other incredible yogis around you.
No technology, no distractions.
I’ve taken this into my life by reminding myself to put down my cell phone whenever I can and rely on the present moment because the present is really all we have.
When all else fails, breathe through the moment.
Even, slow breathing helps you through the hardest poses in a physical yoga practice, just as those deep inhales and long exhales can help you navigate life whenever it feels noisy, crowded, or difficult to conquer.
7. Self-Love Is Essential
Self-love is the key to bliss, happiness, and loving others.
Self-love is ongoing, and often challenging journey, but once you realize material things will not lead to happiness, you can find the strength to look within yourself and find your own peace.
You are strong both in your yoga practice and in life.
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