Learning to Approach Life the Same Way You Approach the Mat. ~ Kathleen O’Hagan

Via elephant journal
on Mar 23, 2013
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The Vinyasa Life

I have been practicing yoga every day for over a month now. It was something I intended to practice for the sake of my sanity while completing my B.A. in Liberal Studies. Although I am a full-fledged yogi now, I tend to go in phases with my fitness. One month I love running, the next I’m a ballerina, now I am on my mat every day trying to stick a handstand.

Last summer I was really into hot Vinyasa and Bikram. During one hot Vinyasa class, my teacher mentioned that the way you approach your mat and your yoga practice represents how you approach your daily life. I brushed it off thinking there was no way I projected on the yoga mat. But as our practice went on, I began to realize that it was true.

I was mimicking some of the habits in my daily life.

As we began our practice, I started out so strong as usual. I mastered every pose fiercely—doing my best chaturanga to upward dog to downward dog vinyasa. The flow felt amazing and the heat felt fantastic.

Then around 45 minutes in, I started to fade.

Granted, this was a hot Vinyasa class, during the summer, so it was hot in there. But I still felt like I shouldn’t have been fading, and at 25 years old, I should definitely be strong enough to get through an entire hot yoga class!

It all became clear. As my favorite teacher Renee would say, I had been blowing my yoga load in the first 45 minutes.

As I started to work on changing this slowly in the next classes, I began to reflect on how I do this in my daily life.

It happens with my fitness habits. I run and run and run until I get tired of it and decide to change gears. I’ll do ballet twice a week and then a month and a half later, I’m over it. I’ll get my mind wrapped around something new and am so passionate about it that it is the only thing I can focus on for the coming weeks.

In some aspects, these are great qualities to have. I am ambitious and focused when I find something that consumes me. But I usually end up burning out. I start a lot of things, but don’t tend to finish them. It happened with my education. I have wanted to be so many things, but have burned out with those as well.

Until now.

Yoga has taught me how to not burn myself out. To take it one day, one hour, one minute at a time. And it all started by practicing this on my mat.

My theory was, if I could slow down in my yoga practice and enjoy the entirety of the class, I would then master that in my daily life.

Almost a year later, I am back in school, tackling 20 credits, a part-time job in NYC, looking for teacher trainings and launching a health coaching business.

Am I still passionate about all of these outlets? Of course I am, but I have learned how to contain that fire, preserve it and let it burn even longer.


Kathleen O'Hagan bio picKathleen O’Hagan is a Holistic Health Coach, aspiring yoga teacher and miracle worker in progress. And this is just her hobbies. She is also a full-time student, SUNY Purchase Wellness Center Intern and a personal assistant in New York City. She dreams of spreading nutrition, yoga and self love across the world through any outlet she can.


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Asst. Ed: Amy Cushing
Ed: Brianna Bemel


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19 Responses to “Learning to Approach Life the Same Way You Approach the Mat. ~ Kathleen O’Hagan”

  1. Keri says:

    Very well written! I also tend to jump into things and not complete them. Maybe yoga could have the same effect on me.

  2. thewellnessmaven says:

    Thank you Keri!

  3. Jen says:

    Great read!! I’ve tried yoga a few times, but you’re inspiring me to give it another shot! Keep up the good work, Kathleen!

  4. Lauren says:

    I love the message. I'm juggling a bunch of things at the moment, and dedicating myself to really fully being committed to all of them is a weekly challenge for me. You are not only driving me to get my act together, but are REALLY making me want to get myself to the yoga classes at the gym again…thanks for the inspiration @thewellnessmaven

  5. Jen says:

    Great article! I will definitely apply this to my life, feeling inspired! Thank you Kathleen for sharing this, namaste.

  6. thewellnessmaven says:

    Thanks Jen 🙂

  7. thewellnessmaven says:

    Thank you Lauren! Remember that you can incorporate more yoga into your life just by thoughts. Even the affirmation "I am yoga" can help you get through a busy day stress free 🙂

  8. thewellnessmaven says:

    Namaste Jen!

  9. Pamela says:

    Great job kathleen! good read!

  10. Eren says:

    Great article, Kathleen! I tend to start things and burn out soon after whether it's a month or few months after. It's always nice to read an article you can relate to and see how others came up with a solution to a problem. You've given me some motivation to change my mindset and I appreciate that!

  11. Caitlyn says:

    Well put Kathleen! Very inspiring

  12. thewellnessmaven says:

    Thank you Pam!

  13. thewellnessmaven says:

    That's so great to hear Eren! I'm glad you could relate to it. Give it a try, it really works!

  14. thewellnessmaven says:

    Thanks girl 🙂

  15. Val says:

    Great article and great message! Oxo

  16. Kathleen says:

    Thanks Lav!!!

  17. My yoga mat is a safe space. On my mat, I allow myself to lose balance and fall. All challenges are welcome. I can always get back up. I love and accept myself right where I'm at. A new stretch, a new sensation. Embracing it all. Good and bad. When I imagine the world in which I live wrapped in a yoga mat, new possibilities arise. Try it!

  18. thewellnessmaven says:

    Carlyn…I LOVE that! I will be sure to remember that! Namaste <3

  19. kelly says:

    Great article! I try to squeeze yoga in everyday and find that I am just rushing through it too!!! When I do slow down I enjoy it so much more. I should try this in my daily life too 🙂

    Something to think about and be aware of.