Each time I step onto my mat, it’s a brand new experience.
Some days I feel like a rock star—strong, fluid, graceful, on top of the world; other days … meh, not so much. I’m awkward, tired, unfocused and completely out of tune with my body, breath and spirit.
We all have those days where we want to crawl back under the covers and play hooky from life. But it’s on those days, experience has taught me, that I need my practice the most—that the mere act of stepping onto my mat will help shift my perspective. They’ve also taught me that I don’t have to be a rock star every day—that I am enough and am exactly where I need to be.
I didn’t always feel this way. I used to step onto my mat as though I were competing. I needed to be stronger, push harder, dig deeper.
I didn’t listen.
I wasn’t connected to what was going on with my body, my soul, my heart. Fast forward to injury, frustration and self-depreciation. I now know that the only competition I was in was with myself and my ego.
In those early days of my practice, I heard that what happens on your mat reflects what’s going on off your mat. Back then I was overworked, stressed, scattered and dulled by my life. I scoffed at that idea.
The physicality of my practice was creating a blanket for me to hide under and my ego was leading the way.
And then one day, everything changed.
It started out as a simple home practice—a typical morning following an online podcast—moving, breathing and flowing. Then I was asked to pause in Warrior ll, to settle in and get cozy, as I like to say. Alignment cues were given. And then a bombshell was dropped. Five minutes.
We were going to stay here for five minutes and notice what comes up.
My monkey mind started to chatter, loud and clear. The heat in my front thigh began to simmer. And every excuse I could think of was surfacing to tempt me out of the pose.
But I chose to stay in the pose.
I chose to notice and pay attention to the voice inside my head, to really and truly listen to what my body was telling me. I settled into my breath, relaxed my shoulders and turned the volume down on the conversation happening inside me.
And in those brief five minutes, it happened. Yoga happened.
A light bulb went off and as I allowed myself to just be, I became more aware. I realized that I was allowing my habits off my mat to make their way onto my mat. That my excuses, my tendency to push too much, to scatter myself too thin, to judge and criticize myself for not doing, giving, being enough had made its way into my practice.
And it was up to me to flush it out.
That simple practice of staying present in the pose and of paying attention to what my body is capable of, changed my practice.
I have always taught self-love, self-appreciation and believing in your inner strength and nourishing it so that it grows. But back then I was not teaching myself those same beliefs.
Once I started to pay attention, to really connect to the details of my asanas, to develop quality over quantity, to give myself credit each and every time I made the choice to step onto my mat, a shift happened.
Clarity was born and what I was creating on my mat started to mirror itself in my daily life. I became more grounded, focused, stronger and engaged. I opened my heart to let life and all its messy splendor find its way in.
It wasn’t easy and it meant facing the darker sides of me. But I knew that if I dug in and continued on this path, after the storms cleared, I would be able to face life’s challenges with a quiet strength and the knowledge that I was enough.
So the next time you step onto your mat, take notice. Take a moment and just be. And then as you start to move, pay attention to the habits you’ve created. To the voice that rises when things get uncomfortable.
Try to stay in a pose a little longer and focus on the quality of your breath, the details in your alignment. And when that little voice comes up that self-judges, criticizes or tempts you out of the pose, turn the volume down with love, a soft smile and quiet strength.
And know that you are exactly where you need to be.
Richelle is a wunderlusting yogi, teacher, lifestyle coach and momma to three dogs and a cat. Lover of chocolate, wine, animals and life, she explores with her heart and craves the roads less travelled. She teaches her clients how to leap out of their comfort zones, trust in their inner strength and step into life. In 2011 her wanderlusting soul found its way, via motorhome, from Canada to Tulum where she currently lives, plays in the waves and teaches others to follow their hearts. Follow her adventures on facebook.com/richellemorganyoga, https://twitter.com/blisswarrior or join her on her next yoga retreat. http://richellemorganyoga.com
Assistant Ed: Stephanie Vessely