Saturday, May 21, 2011

5 Things Yoga Poses Have Taught Me About Life

1. Alignment, alignment, alignment. In yoga asanas it's important to align your body properly to avoid injuries. I know it sounds cheesy, but I'm learning that if I don't align the way I live my life with my values, I put myself at risk of injuring my spirit.

2. Don't create unnecessary tension. When I get into a pose that challenges me a great deal, the first thing I do is clench my teeth and tense my shoulders. This does not help me achieve the pose. When I face challenges in my life, I tend to panic, rush, place blame, and over-react. This does not help me to

3. If something isn't working, you have the power to change it. I love that joke where a man goes to the doctor with the complaint, "It hurts when I do this," and the doctor says, "Stop doing that, then." Sometimes it really IS that simple. If it hurts when you practice a pose a certain way... change the way you're practicing it. If you have a co-worker who is bringing you down with his constant negativity, you have the power to change the way you relate to that co-worker.

4. Little changes can make a HUGE difference. My practice completely changed when I learned not to jut my ribcage forward, lengthen my tailbone toward the ground, and engage my core. Seriously. Every pose felt different--stronger, more grounded, and all around improved. I don't have time to practice for two hours a day right now, but I can devote 30 minutes to my yoga, and 30 more minutes to writing, reading, and doing other things that make me happy. It's not much, but it totally shifts the entire day.

5. You are capable of more than you ever thought possible. I have to believe that whatever my goals are, I can accomplish them if I approach them determination, hard work, and persistence. Just a few years ago, I saw someone do a challenging arm balance and thought that I'd NEVER be strong enough to do that no matter what. But I can do them now (at least for a brief moment) because I just kept practicing, gaining strength, and learning the technique little by little. It did not happen over night. I remind myself of this when I get discouraged by the small paychecks that trickle in from my writing projects or rejections yoga teaching auditions. It's only a matter of time... so we might as well enjoy the process.