I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for the last 12 years or so.
But, it is only in the past year that I have what I would call a regular practice in that I go to class three to four times a week, roll out my mat in my kitchen when I feel jammed up and know most of the sanskrit names for poses without having to look around the room.
Recently, I started collecting quotes from my favorite yoga teachers.
They’ll say something in class that hits me a certain way, usually right between the eyes, and I’m thinking, Has this teacher been talking to my mom? Have they been secretly private messaging my husband on Facebook? That’s really weird. How do they know that is exactly what I’m dealing with right now?
Oh wait, there are these things called universal truths which basically mean that I’m not as special as I thought I was.
My yoga teacher isn’t secretly tailoring classes to meet my egotistical needs. Everyone is dealing with the same challenges, fighting the same battles and making the same mistakes. It’s comforting and somewhat terrifying knowing that we’re all in this together.
Here are five quotes I stole from yoga that apply to just about everything in life—personal, business, parenting, marriage, finances, making lasagna, changing diapers or doing the dishes. Pick a subject and these quotes will speak to it.
1. It can’t be all effort, there has to be something from your center.
This just about sums up the entire universe for me. Working hard and pushing through isn’t always the way to make change, find progress or achieve success. You have to start from within. If you’re not connected to your core, your center, everything else will collapse.
2. You have to go in to get out.
Go inside, in your head, in your body. You can’t get out of something cruising around the surface looking around the room checking out other people’s yoga outfits. You have to stay inside yourself on your own mat before you can shine yourself outward.
3. Push into the edges of your discomfort, that’s how you start to move further.
Where the tension is—that is where you need to direct yourself, send yourself. Before you know it, the edge, the place you never thought you’d get in front of, is behind you. In yoga and in the rest of my life, I’m really good at parking it in my comfort zone, hanging out and wondering why I feel so uninspired. This reminds me to keep pushing toward the edge.
4. It doesn’t matter how it looks, only how it feels.
Forget about the right way or the best way. Let go of your expectations and the world’s expectations. The only way that matters is your way in this moment. The only thing that matters is how you feel. Whether it’s throwing a party or trying something new like standing on your head, you can’t let appearances weigh you down and keep you from feeling your experience.
5. Think big. Work small.
Yep. The work is in the details. Start with the details and build the bigger picture. Tiny, tiny increments adjusting over time is where big change comes from. You can have all the big ideas and plans and aspirations in the world, but the work gets done one little piece at a time, every day.
See? They apply to everything.
P.S. I’d like to thank my amazing yoga teachers for keeping it real, bringing me blocks when I think I don’t need them and guiding me as I learn to open my heart. And it’s not really stealing, right? More like borrowing in order to spread the good stuff around.
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Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Walt Stoneburner/Flickr