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Living Your Yoga Both On & Off The Mat

 

Life sure has a way of humbling us. 

 

You may have seen my recent email where I invited you to join me for a 21-Day Yoga Challenge. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised by the response! I so enjoy teaching yoga, especially when I have eager participants joining me. We were off to a great start!

 

Unfortunately, life had other plans, and the first three classes did not go smoothly. 

 

I’ve live-streamed yoga classes dozens of times (you may have participated in some of them with me during the early days of the pandemic?), and I pretty much had everything dialed in. I went through numerous cameras and microphones. I even had an audio-engineer-friend come over to consult with me to get the best sound out of my space. I tinkered and played around with lighting, experimenting and experimenting again until I had everything just right. 

 

Most of those live streams went well, except for the occasional cat walking through the shot or sitting in front of my mat to clean himself. ;-)

 

However, this time around, things did not go so smoothly. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the sound figured out. After chasing my tail for days and finding myself so confused and frustrated I was near tears, I discovered it wasn’t even anything I was doing wrong. Apparently, it had something to do with the latest iPhone update (surprisingly, after all my experimenting with cameras, my iPhone turned out to be the best choice for what I was trying to accomplish). 

 

While this was a relief to figure out, it got my 21-Day Yoga Challenge off to a rough start, and for that, I was incredibly disappointed. Of course, I didn’t want to come off as unprofessional, but mostly I didn’t want to weaken any student’s resolve to be consistent. 

 

Then I remembered something I tell my students all the time. Yoga is not just something we practice on the mat. It’s how we handle life off of the mat as well. 

 

In one of my previous videos, 4 Things Every Yogi Needs to Know, I discuss four life lessons applicable both on and off the mat. You can watch the video here or read on for the Cliff Notes.
 

  1. Embrace The Awkwardness. Whenever we are stepping out of our current comfort zone, there’s a certain level of awkwardness inherent in any growing experience. Whether it’s starting (or renewing) a yoga practice, learning to play an instrument, or studying a new language, there’s bound to be a time when things feel uncomfortable and clumsy. How do we grow past that? We stick to it and embrace the awkwardness until that new behavior becomes our new comfort zone.


  2. Modify As Needed. Whether we’re talking about yoga, or something else, everybody is at a different place in their development. As I tell my students, modify as needed and make the practice work for you.


  3. Do Your Best And Let That Be Enough. Sometimes, no matter what we do and despite our best intentions, things don’t look or feel the way we imagined. However, if we want to keep growing and expanding into greater, more expansive versions of ourselves, we must be gentle with ourselves. We don’t have as much control as we like to think we do. Life is always going to have its say.


  4. Explore, And Honor, Your Edge. During my yoga classes, I like to remind my students to find their way into the stretch and explore the edge of what’s comfortable. Then, instead of forcing our bodies past that edge, we simply breathe into it. By honoring the edge of our comfort zone and breathing into it, the body/mind eventually accepts this as a new normal and relaxes. That, then, becomes our new edge and (next time we find our way into that position) allows us to breathe patiently and wait for the invitation to go even deeper. 

 

I have since realized that this embarrassing life lesson wasn’t just for me. It was for every student who signed up for my classes, too. Each one of them got to decide what they were going to make that rough start mean. Did they use it as an opportunity to give up on their intention? Or did they persevere? 

 

Of course, there’s no right or wrong answer here. It’s simply an opportunity to notice and gain awareness. 

 

Perhaps for you, too, recent events have come bearing unexpected gifts—learning opportunities perhaps disguised as failures at first glance? If so, I’d love to hear about it. In what ways has life surprised you already this year? And, do any of these four life lessons mentioned above apply? 

 

Ready to kickstart your yoga practice? You can dive in with my 21-Day Yoga Challenge today.

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