Off the Mat and Into Your World: 5 Takeaways from Yoga

YOGA.

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I love yoga and all its benefits, which I won’t go into today.  Lots of folks have hopped on the yoga bandwagon, as brands like Lululemon and stores like Walmart and Target are recognizing the trends and pumping out cute workout gear and everyone seems to be toting a spare yoga mat in their backseat.

My 11 year relationship with yoga has been different… a time of true exploration.  More like a journey than an activity or hobby, I plan on having yoga as a part of my life as long as possible.   My first yoga retreat is next week (5 days 4 nights outside the beautiful city of Marrakesh, Morocco WOO HOO!) and I plan on embracing the peacefulness and the break from all the intense weightlifting and training I have been doing lately.  Two 90 minute yoga classes a day,  ROOFTOP yoga in the evening… all vegetarian food to detox from whatever processed crap and sweets I have been indulging in lately.

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Yoga makes me feel more balanced, grounded, aware, and present in the moment.  I feel I am more in touch with gratitude and humility.  As side benefits, I get stronger, more flexible, can breathe more deeply, and sweat out lots of toxins (or bad energy, what have you).

So the 5 things that I have learned from yoga that apply towards everyday life…

  1. A judge free zone

Let things go!  Whether you are judging yourself or judging others, it’s a waste of your energy.  Everyone around you has insecurities.  Allowing people to be vulnerable in a judgment free setting enables them to open up and form deeper connections with those around them.  THESE ARE THE TYPE OF CONNECTIONS YOU WANT, PEOPLE.

2.     Take breaks as you need breaks, drink water as you need water

Be mindful of your body.  Listen to yourself, learn your body and its signals.

Realize today is a new day, and if something is harder today than it was yesterday, be okay with that.  The more you learn about the way your body works, the more in tune you will be throughout the day with how your body is doing.  How is your posture?  Do you have any specific aches and pains?  What muscles are tighter, is one side of your body different than the other?  Notice these things.  Engage your body.

3.     Make friends with your neighbor

If you are sharing space with someone, it makes life a lot easier when you have developed some form of rapport.  You don’t have to be BFF’s, but know their first names and say hello when you see them.  Bring light to someone’s day!

4.      Breathe into the pain

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Breath is everything. Breath is synonymous with life.

Breathing into physical pain in yoga means focusing the breath into certain areas that are tighter and more painful when you are holding poses, thus allowing the muscles to relax into the pose.

In physical pain, I breathe.  During the notorious chair pose in yoga class and at the sports therapy doctor while he’s working on my IT band.  Just breathe.  Just allow yourself to feel the pain, but focus on keeping your breathing steady.  It’s harder than it sounds, try it!

In emotional pain, I breathe. At times during meetings, my drawn out “ujayi” breath can be heard from wall to wall.  “Is anything wrong?” They ask.  Not after I finish this breath…

5.     Always smile.  It helps.

Love yourself for the good you are doing for your body and mind.  As my favorite yoga instructor always says in our moments of forehead wrinkles and sweat beads, “Smile, it helps”.

In the moment, it always does.

What types of activities do you LOVE to do that you want to be a part of your life forever? 

What do you do to make sure your life is balanced?

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