During the month of January, the yoga studio I belong to presented us with a 30 day challenge. We were allowed to take any classes offered at the studio including yoga, Pilates, or barre – as long as we moving everyday during the month of January! The majority of the classes I took were yoga followed by barre once or twice a week and Pilates about every other week.
Going into this, I knew sacrifices had to be made: no happy hour on Fridays, no eating dinner until after class at 9pm, and no burritos for lunch because that wouldn’t be fun during backbends. It took commitment to set an hour or two everyday to step onto my mat. But once I did, I never ever regretted it and learned some pretty awesome things along the way:
Kindness – I’d like to consider myself a kind person, but at times I can be anything but. At my lowest moments I have screamed disrespectful and hurtful comments to some of the people I loved most. If my mom had me repeat something 3 or 4 times, I would get so irritated and respond harshly. Or if she said something that was hurtful to me, I would immediately try and retaliate by saying something hurtful back.
But I’ve realized that of course she didn’t want me to repeat myself for the hell of it – she just genuinely couldn’t hear me. And of course she didn’t want to intentionally hurt my feelings – she’s looking out for me by being honest (although we’ve both agreed she can say things nicer without mincing her words, but we’re working on that).
As I flow in yoga, I’m reminded to move with my breath. It is not meant to be fast, just like we are not meant to react in haste. Next time you’re about to lose your sh*t, take a couple of deep inhales and exhales, and remember no one’s trying to intentionally irritate or hurt you. It will save you from acting erratically which leads to embarrassment and shame. And if there are people who intentionally try to hurt you, acknowledge it and move on without stooping to their level. Those people are clearly hurting in the inside. Say a prayer for them that they see the good in the world and become inspired by it.
Self-love – I had envisioned this amazingly toned body by the 30th day. I thought, “Finally! I can look like those yoga models on Instagram!” You know, those girls with the perfectly lean, sculpted bodies that can be contorted into any shape? Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen. Although I still basically look the same as when I began, I have found a deeper appreciation for my body and all of its flaws. My inner thigh fat and the fluff covering my abs don’t phase me as much anymore. They represent all of the laughter, happiness, and good conversation I had with family and friends when we shared a delicious meal.
Treat your body well by giving it a little stretch and sweat every once in a while. Eat your fruits and vegetables. Do your best to nourish it, including having a piece of cake here and there. As long as you feel good, regardless of what the scale says, then that’s all the affirmation you need. Plus, nobody notices our “flaws” as much as we do (or at all)- stop stressing about it! Let it be.
Patience – Nothing tests my patience more than holding eagle pose for what seems like eternity. The ONLY thing that keeps me going is my breath. All I can do is breathe. And I take that skill with me off the mat as well. Whenever I’m in an undesired situation that causes me to be uncomfortable, I can either b*tch or breathe. Breathing may not be satisfying at the moment, but I know I won’t regret saying anything rude or disrespectful (which circles back to my kindness lesson above). As I learned from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, you can stand anything for 10 seconds. Just keep on breathing in 10 second increments. If it still annoys you after 10 seconds, keep on breathing for another 10.. until that irritating feeling leaves you. You’ll feel less heaviness in your mind and heart 🙂
Courage – At the end of every class, I surrender myself to the universe in savasana. Corpse pose gives me the courage to invite in all challenges and opportunities that the universe has deemed appropriate for my life. And there’s nothing I can do to stop it. By taking a moment to reset and recharge, I am ready to tackle anything head on.
For any dabblers or regular practitioners, what has been your most valuable lesson learned?