I started yoga about 10 years ago. I found yoga just at the right time in my life, when I needed it the most, I love how things happen for a reason like this. There are so many different types of yoga, I practice Hatha yoga, which is a gentle form of yoga that focuses on stretching, breathing and sometimes incorporates meditation. Yoga has taught me so much and keeps teaching me, only this week yoga taught me another lesson.
These are my most valuable lessons that yoga has taught me
Be on my mat
This is the lesson that has had the most impact on me. My teacher encourages you to be on your mat and not look around at what other people are doing. This is about not comparing yourself to others, you’re unique and what does it matter anyway if someone can bend further than you?
I remember when this lesson really hit home for me. I was at college studying for my nutritional diploma, I would always want to know what other people were writing in their essays, what mark they got, in fact I’d done this my whole life through school, college and university. This was a light-bulb moment, I no longer needed to do that. I wasn’t interested in what grades other people got, just what I got and what I could learn to do better. I was able to let go and stop comparing myself to others, a huge step for me.
To be fully present
Yoga was my first introduction into learning how to be fully present, my first training into calming the mind and being in control of my mind. If you’ve tried it, it’s tricky! There’s so much going on out there that it’s hard to bring the mind to what you’re doing now, to be fully present. My first few yoga lessons I definitely let my mind wonder, what was I going to have for dinner when I got home, would the traffic be OK? But once you master this, I think being fully present in this moment is the basis to being truly happy and to enjoying every moment life has to offer.
I thought I knew how to breathe and I thought I did it quite naturally all the time, don’t we all, we wouldn’t be alive otherwise! Yoga has taught me how to breathe properly, to really notice the breath, how to breathe fully and how to use it in every day life. When I need to centre myself in the craziness of life, I take a deep breathe and come back to me. If I’m reacting negatively to my naughty toddler, I take a few breathes before reacting and jumping into the situation. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t manage this all the time, but it’s given me a tool to use to help me when I’m feeling a little off base.
To listen to what the body is telling me (without the mind getting in the way)
Yoga encourages you to listen to the body so you don’t stretch too far and hurt yourself but also to take a break when you may need it. Another lesson that you can use in every day life. Do you need to rest? Are you feeling low energy and need to eat? What food does you body need? Are you tired and need to sleep? You’re body knows what it needs, tune in and listen to your body.
Be kind to yourself without judgement
This was another important one for me. I was my own worst critic, I judged myself constantly and actually I beat myself up a lot. Yoga encourages no judgement of yourself and of others. It taught me to be kind to myself, to accept me for me.
I love yoga, it keeps me balanced and is part of my wellbeing routine. And I love everything it has taught me and continues to teach me.