I’ve practiced yoga for several years off and on. I’ve managed to practice regularly, at least a couple of sessions per week since January. Two months ago I joined a gym near work and have been able to go to lunchtime yoga, helping me average 4-5 times per week. 2017 has brought me the toughest challenges yet in my personal life, some of my worst fears brought to life. Yet I realize that not only am I ok, I’m actually thriving. My marriage is stronger than ever. I am stronger than ever, more at peace. I credit this to many things but in part to things I’ve practiced on my yoga mat.
First, yoga is self-care for me. I feel physically and mentally stronger and more flexible after a practice. I stretch and hold and breathe through discomfort. I push to the edge of my physical limits and then for a few moments at the end I experience complete and total relaxation. It’s just my mat and me for that block of time; everything else is set aside.
Yoga has also taught me to stay present with physical discomfort (not pain). I’ve learned that I can stay with the physical discomfort, instead of trying to avoid or escape and I grow stronger. The discomfort becomes easier to handle physically because my muscles grow to support me. More importantly though, mentally I know I can handle that discomfort. I know that I’m ok in that moment and I’ll be ok after it ends. I can handle it. This mental strength has carried over into my life off the mat as well. Life has thrown some tough stuff my way this year, and I have been able to stay present in the moment. I have hurt. I have felt the pain but because I’ve been present in the moment, I’ve also been aware when it ebbed away. It hasn’t lasted forever. I have experienced joyful moments, peaceful moments, loving moments in between the moments of pain. I’ve realized that I can handle the pain while it lasts and I will be at peace when it ends.
My favorite thing about yoga, though, is that we _practice_ it. There is always more to learn, another way to grow. That too applies off my yoga mat. I’m growing with the challenges life has given me. Some days I fall on the mat; some days I fall apart in life. I’m practicing. I will always be practicing.