As we start taking more yoga classes, we begin to realize just how much they can change our attitude toward life.
Here are seven life lessons I have learned from yoga:
1) If you let your ego get in the way and push yourself to impress others, you’ll just end up hurting yourself.
If you are forcing your body to stretch out farther because you want to show off to the rest of your class, you will end up hurting yourself. If you spend your life doing things to simply prove your worth to others and not listening to your true self, you’ll end up harming no one but you and your own happiness.
2) You cannot grow and be comfortable at the same time because growing requires you to get out of your comfort zone.
Doing a hand stand, stretching out your hamstrings, holding your chaturanga—these are all really uncomfortable, but you know it will make you stronger and more flexible. If you want to grow, you need to get out of your comfort zone; and if you keep pushing yourself little by little, you realize there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.
3) Learn to appreciate the opportunity to do nothing.
Sometimes lying in shavasna can be uneasy and stressful. That’s because your mind is rushing and telling you all the things you have to do or should be doing—it’s the fear of missing out, the feeling of constantly needing to achieve something. But, it’s OK to take a break once in a while and let yourself do nothing. When you are given the opportunity to do nothing at all, take it and enjoy it. Allow yourself to take a break. You deserve it, and it allows you to recharge and reflect.
4) You might not be able to achieve it today, but you might tomorrow.
It’s okay to not be able to do that handstand today. It’s okay if crow pose isn’t working for you today. It’s okay if you didn’t get everything on your list done today. It’s okay… just try again tomorrow.
5) Each move has a purpose, don’t rush to get to the final pose.
The reason I love vinyasa is because one move flows to the other and prepares you to get to the final pose; just like how life isn’t about getting to the end the quickest, it’s about the journey and the steps you take. Focus on the present, enjoy the ride, don’t rush and you’ll perfect that final pose.
6) Don’t forget to breathe.
When we do a difficult move, we tend to hold our breath. I do that often until I remember to breathe. Not breathing is just making it harder for you. If you surrender to the pose and remember to do the most basic and fundamental thing, such as breathing, the pose becomes so much easier. When you are stressed, faced with challenges and are frustrated, just breathe. It’s already happening, don’t make it harder on yourself.
7) Thank your body and yourself for being able to do what you can do.
We tend to forget how privileged we are, how lucky it is to have a body that lets us do those complicated yoga moves and have the mindset or the time to come to a bring ourselves on to a mat. We forget to take time to appreciate when we are busy complaining about the things we can’t do or don’t have. Be thankful for where you are today and how much you have accomplished so far.
NaEun Park has been practicing yoga on and off since she was 14 years old. As an active athlete, she didn’t realize how important yoga was until her knee injury led her to more regular classes. Yoga has allowed her to be a stronger person not only physically but also mentally, giving her the courage to go after her passion. She recently quit her job in marketing and decided to travel full time, dedicating her time to learn through experiences, give back to the community through long-term volunteer works around the world and encourage others to go after their dream through her blog, NananaTravels.com.
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Ed: Sara Crolick & Brianna Bemel
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