What Applies In Yoga Also Applies In Life

The principles of yoga may make you healthy and limber, but what applies in yoga, often applies in life as well.

Silent Journey Yoga and Life

“…And remember, there is no difference between yoga and life.”  Those were the words of my first yoga teacher as she told the class while we attempted to twist our legs around one another and intertwine our arms in a way that was apparently reminiscent of an eagle.

The surprise at her comment and my attempt to hide my gasp of frustration sent me stumbling down onto the mat, arms still pretzeled. I looked around the room and to my great relief; many of the other yogis were sharing in the awkward struggle with the balance posture. Most had clenched their jaws and furrowed their brows. I wasn’t sure the woman next to me had even taken a breath in the last thirty seconds.

First yoga classes are just that, filled with awkward moments, insecurity, lots of falls, and self-critique for not being as rubber-limbed as the woman in the pink spandex scratching her head with her foot.

I left the class feeling like a clumsy child who had just failed the fitness test in gym. If life and yoga were one in the same, as she so claimed, then life seemed pretty depressing to me at that moment.

Being the stubborn woman that I am, and one who had presumptuously bought the intro package of five classes for a discounted price, I went back to the studio, set my mat down at the back of the room and tried not to think about my legs looking like sausages in their spandex casing.

The second class wasn’t much better than the first. Nor was the third. But during the fourth class, something happened. I was able to stay in tree pose for (almost) the full count of breaths! I swelled with pride. I also started to pay a bit more attention to my breathing and each asana as I moved through my new practice. The fifth time I stepped on my mat I wasn’t aggravated or self-conscious – rather I was excited and feeling strong. Something had changed: I wasn’t just trying to rush to the sweet shavasana, instead I was enjoying the process. That’s important, because now that I look back, I realize that I was simultaneously moving through the practice of my life off the mat.

My teacher was right to call to mind the intrinsic link between yoga and daily life. Each is simply a practice. We must try, find our edge, fail, and try again. There are times that we grow frustrated, upset, angry and sad and there are also moments of elation, excitement, passion, and calm. There are times to push harder and times to take rest. Our hearts can race and sometimes we just have to have a laugh at ourselves.

Yes, losing balance in Warrior 3 and almost knocking into the yogi next to you is not as big of a deal as ending a relationship, but responding mindfully and compassionately is necessary in both. What begins on the mat cannot help but transcend into the world outside. When something doesn’t go our way, it is easy to criticize and find fault with one another. Yoga provides the space for practitioners to refine a sense of awareness of the body and the mind. This cultivated awareness becomes extremely valuable in navigating the highs and lows of daily life. We are allowed to feel however we do at any moment, and yoga teaches us how to find calm amidst any form of chaos the human experience may bring upon us.

Yoga reminds us that we must continue to move in ways that are different from what we know – to appreciate all that our bodies can do for us, to occasionally look at things upside down, and to remember that no matter how many trees or airplanes we fall out of, the most important thing is to take deep breaths, try to smile, and keep going.

Erin Ward
Silent Journey Contributor

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