Lately I’m finding that the more I practice yoga, the more I want to practice yoga. I find myself hungry for the practice and longing for that feeling of strength and accomplishment that comes with reaching new depths, new heights, and new levels altogether. I am even finding myself emerging from savasana feeling focused, confident and strong. I open my eyes feeling eager to attempt new poses (I’ve been using this energy to work on my bakasana – a pose I find extremely difficult given my currently insufficient upper body strength, and the fact that I may as well be 8 feet tall). Perhaps this is counterproductive to the whole savasana experience, but hey, I go with it.
More importantly, though, is the fact that the more I practice yoga, the more my practice is becoming, for me, about more than just exercise – it’s becoming about more than muscle tone and sweating bullets; it’s even becoming about more than stress relief. The more I practice yoga, the more my practice is becoming about extending my “yogic” experiences to my life beyond my mat, and the more I’m finding awesome parallels between the two – such as:
1. Risk-taking: “The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing and becomes nothing.” -Leo F. Buscaglia.
You learn by doing, and when it comes to doing new things, learning can be difficult and scary. Learning does not happen through osmosis, nor through daydreaming. Be it yoga-related, work-related or life-in-general-related, you have to take risks. I find myself doing a lot more of this as of late.
2. Egolessness: I learned in my practice how not to be dominated by my ego. I learned to let go of judgement and to let go of self-consciousness. This is proving to be a little more challenging in a world where, unlike my mat (as I practice yoga in the privacy of my own home), I must also let go of other people’s judgement, and free myself of other people’s egos, but I’m getting there.
3. Presence: The other evening in my hotel room, mid-practice, I flowed into vasisthasana (the asana about which I’d written last week with which I’d, until very recently, had great difficulty). Feeling significantly more comfortable, and much less wobbly in this pose than I did even just a week ago, my mind was free to wander – and, as minds are naturally inclined to do, wander it did.
Focusing my gaze on the handle of the nightstand in front of me so as to maintain my balance, I caught a peripheral glimpse of the alarm clock. This, without me even realizing, sparked thoughts about a dreaded 3:30 AM wake up call, whether I needed to go to an ATM, or if taxis took credit cards, and where I was going to eat breakfast. My mind only wandered for a few seconds, but the thoughts flowed fast. What happened? I fell over.
In general, though, I’m finding myself much more present in the moment, regardless of what it is I’m doing. Whether I’m enjoying it or not, I’m finding myself doing it, and doing it well, doing it with awareness, and doing it without the distractions of the million things I either have to do or would rather do.
4. Balance. As per yogic principal, what you do on one side, you must do on the other. You must strive for balance; you must seek equilibrium. Yoga both gives me the opportunity and the ability to find balance between all areas of my life.
5. Acceptance. “This too shall pass”.
Whether it’s a pose, a task, a decision or what have you, difficulties arise and things are not always comfortable. The more I practice yoga, the more I become comfortable with being uncomfortable, the more I accept the circumstances of the moment, and the more I feel able to accept life’s adversities for what they are, endure them and persevere – sometimes with a smile.
These are just 5 examples of the awesome parallels I’ve found.
Bakasana (or, crow pose)