Given yoga a try? This mama was sure she’d be bored to tears, but discovered life-changing lessons that extend far beyond the studio…
If you are a serious yoga practitioner, or someone who already has life in perfect control… this article is likely not for you. If, like me, you are a stressed-out corporate desk slave whose mind leaps from the unfinished task-list to every worst-case scenario without pause, read on.
I had always assumed yoga would bore me to tears. The slow pace and ‘emptying your mind’ bit is daunting. Give me a quick and mindless gym workout or an outdoor jog/walk any day.
This year, my husband and I decided to finally give mindful yoga a shot. The objective was to see if yoga would help us de-stress and calm our minds effectively. Our instructor Fion came highly recommended and by the end of our first class, we were hooked. I was soon loathe to miss a class and by month two, I was a yoga addict.
Here are five yoga lessons I felt could be extrapolated to daily life. These are pretty obvious. However putting them in practice requires conscious effort in the beginning and I found them immensely helpful.
Set An Intention
At the start of each class, our instructor asks us to set an intention for the session. It could be something as simple as ‘hold each pose without giving up’. Setting an intention, whether at the start of a session or the start of a day, encourages you to be mindful of what you are doing and gives a sense of accomplishment tied to the effort made rather than the result. There is no way to lose. This is different and less stressful than attempting to reach a hard target where the result is more important than the journey itself.
Stay In The Moment
Before yoga, I found it difficult to tame my mind. I always have 2-3 tracks of thought running in the background; I am great at multi-tasking. But when I am not multi-tasking productively, I continue to think about multiple things, analysing or worrying ceaselessly. Focusing on my breathing as we went from one yoga pose to the other, though, helped me empty my mind and stay in the moment. It was a breakthrough for me. The resulting quietude felt like a huge burden had lifted off my mind, sharpening my senses and clarifying my thought process. I find I am able to do this for longer periods of time with practice.
Flex Unused Muscles
Even as a relatively active person with fairly flexible joints, I am often shocked to discover during yoga practice just how many muscles are poorly used or unused to activity. You could be breathing in poorly through one nostril and not be aware. It’s apparently common to be more flexible on one side of the body than the other. Just raising an arm over your head and arching your spine for a few beats, can be more difficult that you might imagine. Keep flexing those unused muscles – mental or physical – to keep yourself supple and agile. Even when you’ve hit your best pace at work and are performing at your peak, it is likely you are under-utilising other skills you have. Keep challenging yourself by attempting new tasks and never stop learning
Push Self-Imposed Limits
We are capable of far more than we allow ourselves to imagine. Our self-imposed limitations are often our biggest hurdle to achievement. You can breathe through the pain/anxiety and push yourself farther than you think, if only you can bring yourself to challenge that mind-set. It feels fantastic to surprise yourself. Always question the status quo, be bold and push yourself.
Honor Your Effort
Our instructor always ends the session by making us verbally appreciate our own effort. We work mindfully towards the intention we set at the beginning, focus on the session without allowing distraction and appreciate the sincere effort that went into the session. It is incredibly freeing and we walk away feeling wonderful as a result. We all drive ourselves hard and the inner critic is often relentless. Take the time to appreciate your sincere effort and be grateful for everything you have — even something as simple as being able to focus for an hour on something that is important to you.
The first time I was able to hold the half-moon pose felt like a great win. A win that came naturally, without any pressure.
Have you tried yoga? What lessons from yoga have you found useful?