It's All in Your Head!
Yoga helps to improve the flexibility and strength of your body. Many of us come to yoga because we want to get stronger, lose weight, or fix an injury. But what about the mind? Where does it fit into all of this yoga business?
Yoga teaches us many life lessons that can be challenging to understand at the best of times. However, they can help us off of the mat and out in the real world, if only we could apply them. So we practice these difficult life lessons in the studio, in this safe and neutral environment. By practicing these lessons your mind becomes stronger and more flexible, just like our bodies. And as we become mentally stronger our ability to do the asanas (postures) becomes easier. However, more importantly, if becomes easier to apply these life lessons off the mat.
When practicing our asanas (postures), they act as a mirror and reflect back to us our natural mental tendencies. How do you react when faced with a challenge? Just observe your mind when you try to do handstand. Can you do that handstand when you are telling yourself that you can’t? Does the enjoyment you get out of class depend on how well you compare to the lady next to you?
Here are just a few examples of lessons learned for the mind!
1. If you think you can’t, you’re right. In order to do anything in life your mind has to be onboard. If you try to do crow pose while thinking you can’t, then you are right. Once you get over this hurdle of the mind and believe that you can then the pose will ‘magically’ happen. You have to first see it in the mind and believe it. The same is true for any business endeavor or life goal.
2. You’re happiness comes from within. True happiness and joy comes from contentment with what is and by living in the present moment. In class we teach this by asking you to be okay with your body, just as it is. To try not to compare yourself with your neighbor or with your 20 year-old self. Instead, be present in this moment and be grateful that you are alive. From this acceptance and gratitude true happiness comes. This is a very challenging lesson. However, with practice we get better at it on the mat. Then we are able to use this when things get really hard like we are diagnosed with an illness or we lose a job.
3. Strength and flexibility are equally important. To do any asana we need physical strength and flexibility. One without the other does not work. The same is true with our mind and we are more joyful and helpful to others with this balanced mind. We need the strength to stand-up for ourselves and our beliefs but we also need the flexibility to be open to new ideas and to grow.
Join me in two weeks and I’ll go through a few more of my favorites. See you on the mat!