One of my main intentions for the new year was to start practicing yoga again on a regular basis. So far so very good. I have attended a yoga class almost every day since January 1st.
I feel so damn good.
I got a bit chunky in the fall. I started not to really care about calories. I started drinking less water and more beer. I skipped lunch which never means less food is consumed by the end of the day – trust me, it doesn’t.
In just over 2 weeks of regular yoga classes, my body is leaner, stronger and more flexible.
My pants aren’t tight anymore and my sweaters look better on me. You know that “thin” feeling that it is usually only enjoyed during the week after your period? Gentlemen, even YOU know what I’m talking about. Yeah, that feeling…but better!
I’m highly, highly recommending yoga as a way to create a healthier body and a smaller waist size. I’ve only tried hot yoga once (and nearly passed out from heat exhaustion), but if you’ve got the body type that can handle it, my goodness go for it – I heard you can burn like 1300 calories in one session. Yay.
As I strive to achieving Madonna-arms once and for all, I also listen to the messages my yoga teachers share throughout each practice and man, are they ever life lessons. The messages are fundamentals of the “yoga way” or philosophy behind the physical poses, but man, I will say it again, are they ever life lessons…
Here are 5 Ways To “Practice Yoga” Where Ever You Are…in or out of the studio…
1. Show Effortlessness In Your Effort. So often when I’m trying like hell to keep my balance or stay in a lunge even though my quad muscles are about to sound a 5-alarm bell, the yoga teachers will ask, “Can you soften your eyes and mouth? Can you smile?” They actually want us to look like we’re enjoying ourselves!! What the??? The lesson is that the pose IS challenging – it IS what it IS. The challenging aspect to the post is a FACT that is not going to change but stuff like our reactions to it and behaviours through it are the variables. We don’t actually HAVE TO look angry, frustrated, or in pain. When there is great effort, looking like you’re in pain or like heading off to war is always optional – there is always another way even though we forget there is. Weirdly enough, when I show (or fake) effortlessness by softening my face or smiling, the pose I’m doing becomes just a touch easier. Hmmmm….
2. Find Your Breath. The point of yoga is to inhale and exhale through the poses which requires a massive focus on the present moment throughout the practice. It’s amazing how many times my mind wanders to the past and future throughout a class and hence, how many times I’m not really there in the studio – as I’m doing Warrior 1, I’m actually emailing a client. Each time I find my breath, I come back to the present moment and re-enter the yoga studio. The lesson is it really is TOUGH to be in 2 places at once.
3. Take As Many Breaks As You Need To. During one of my classes last week, the yoga teacher said, “I’m confused when people tell me that my classes are too hard because you can always take a break when you need to.” Yoga is a practice that urges us to resist the demands of the ego and instead be kinder to ourselves. You are not your strength. You are not your balance. You are not your endurance. You are not your yoga pose. The lesson here is that self-worth or identity isn’t based on anything you DO. You are not LESS of a person if and when you rest. Big life lesson, yes?
4. Reflect On How You Feel Rather Than How You Did. Kind of an extension of the last message. The lesson here is to base the quality of your practice on whether you gained any high energy feelings or simply enjoyed yourself rather than whether whether you are ready for the yoga olympics. Did you have fun? Did you feel peaceful? Did you feel present? This lesson here is to challenge the old belief about what success means. May success mean more to you than what or how you DO or DID.
5. Namaste. The definition of Namaste (pronounced na, ma, stay) is both a physical gesture and a spoken spiritual salutation. We do and say “Namaste” at the end of every practice. We are saying to the teacher and the teacher is saying to us, “The Divine in me recognizes and honours the Divine in you.” The lesson is to approach everyone with compassion and love rather than judgement and fear. Perhaps the ultimate life lesson, yes?
Namaste, my dear…