If you’re an experienced yogi, an aspiring yogi or somewhere in-between you will benefit from this post. As you read, I really challenge you to think about what yoga is to you. Once you figure that out, it becomes so much more than a cute mat, even cuter leggings and putting your body into instagramable poses. When yoga becomes real to you, it changes everything about your practice.
I’ve been practicing yoga off and on for about six or seven years now. At first, I just went to yoga because I heard that it was good for me. I’m all about things that are good for me, so why not? It was challenging enough for my body (especially because I prefer hot yoga) but looking back, I can see that I never was able to tap into the potential that yoga held for my mind and spirit.
The other night at yoga we did frog. My relationship with frog pose is about as great as a visit to the gynecologist… I F’ING HATE IT. I have tiny hips and they do not and will not open that way. It is so uncomfortable for me. In earlier practices I would sit there in frog and listen to the instructor say try to be still, try to breathe through the pose. But there I sat, wanting to be anywhere else, fidgeting and counting the seconds until I could get myself out of that uncomfortable state.
When the instructor said frog, everything in me said NO. I knew what was coming; five minutes of pain and five minutes of frustration because I knew that I wasn’t getting what I should be getting out of that pose. It is intended to open up your hips (where we tend to carry a ton of built up emotion and stress), open up your groin, your thighs and encourage you to be still. So there I was in class getting into frog. There I sat…. Still. Completely still.
I couldn’t believe it. I checked in with every area of my body like a mental scan; my hips ached, but I felt it. My fingers tingled, but I felt it. My mind was a little busy, but I made a mindful decision to slow it down. I could not believe it… I was actually enjoying frog! I actually loved being still and extremely uncomfortable all at once. This was when the whole meaning of yoga finally clicked for me…
To be still, take notice and feel (no matter how good or bad it feels.)
My year has forced me to be in some uncomfortable situations. It’s forced me to feel what I was feeling and not escape it. When I wanted to run (and usually I would try to), I could not. When I wanted everything to stop, I couldn’t make it. But in this class, I was proud. I felt my progress right there on my mat. Instead of wanting to clean up and go home right in the middle of freaking frog, I wanted to stay in it longer and feel longer and breathe through every crevice of my body longer. It was no longer about being uncomfortable. It was about training my mind to be comfortable when my emotions or physical being is very uncomfortable. And that, is power. That, is yoga (to me).
Yoga is a practice. It’s intentional; to help you improve and be better not just in the studio but in your daily life as well. Whatever happens in your life you can prepare for and work through on your mat. Yoga is constantly checking in with yourself; are you okay with where you’re at? Are you happy, struggling, etc? Do you need more? More of a challenge, more intimacy in your pose, more relaxation? Or maybe you need to retreat and take a step back or put your knee down for less of a challenge. Your body and what it needs is absolutely reflective of the season that you’re in in life so pay attention through your practice. You’d be amazed at what you’ll discover.
What is yoga to you? I’d love to know… Comment below.