LIFE – On and off your Yoga Mat

Over the years, the love affair I’ve had with Yoga, has been, shall we say, interesting.  Over the decades, I came back to the practice, on and off, for many years until it eventually pulled me in.

When I began to look at my Yoga practice in a different way, it was like a light bulb moment in my head and heart. It just clicked. If you are finding it hard to connect to a regular practice, then this blog might be of help.

Honestly, I used to see my practice as something “separate” from my daily life, so a lot of the time it felt a bit like something else I had to do, because it was apparently “good for you” rather than me wanting to do it. Once I eventually changed my perception towards my practice and began to really integrate what I did on my mat, into daily living, it became more like a gift I was giving to myself.

People doing yogs class - KIndred

Yoga is SO MUCH MORE than a physical practice. I realised that I was so identified, like so many of us are, with the physical movement that I missed the essence, and the transformational quality Yoga can offer and bring into your life. Yoga means vastly different things to different people and if you’re happy purely with the physical practice then that’s fantastic, definitely keep doing it. Your practice will develop over time, and you may find yourself looking for something more. It’s all there, waiting for you to become curious when the time is right.

So, if you’re someone, like me, who couldn’t quite get into the groove with a regular Yoga practice, here are a few things to ponder or try when you’re in class. No jargon or fancy words.

  • Imagine your yoga mat is your magic carpet and when you step on it, you allow yourself to just “be,” in all your glory. It’s a one-person space on this planet just for you, no one else. You have this beautiful little space to call your own which over time can become intimate and sacred to you, offering a deep connection to yourself. A place where you are kind, compassionate, and maybe gentle with yourself. A place to be on your own side. A place to jump off the hamster wheel of daily living, slow down, be still and connect deeply to yourself. How can you ever truly know what you really want or really feel until you pause, slow down, and give yourself space to feel, breathe and listen to yourself.
  • This next point is a big one!!!!!! Understanding that being in or holding a posture/shape/asana in Yoga, is NOT Yoga. Paying attention to what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, IS YOGA. The postures are really the “setting” and the attention to being in the setting, while tuning into what’s happening, in the setting, is actually Yoga. (Read this bit a few times, it will make sense).
  • So, simply the postures we practice are metaphorically a representation of LIFE. There are situations  in life we love and enjoy and other situations that we don’t. The postures are no different. See them as various aspects of your life. There will be some postures you enjoy, some you perhaps dislike, some that provide challenge or discomfort, some that make you feel alive and free. Collectively,they all ultimately offer experience.
  • We observe ourselves on our yoga mat from the perspective of, how does it feel in the body? What dialogue do you notice in your head (the inner narrative) when you are in these shapes? What comes up for you? Is the inner narrative kind, is it critical, is it judgemental, does it bring up feelings of wanting to give up, frustration, happiness, heaviness, lightness, and freedom? Pretty much the same as daily life.
  • Yoga gives us an opportunity to look deeply at ourselves (which can be scary) and notice our own thoughts and behaviours. Whatever comes up for you on your mat can be used as an opportunity to notice, be curious and look at your own thoughts, emotions, and behaviours for self-reflection, self-develop and even self-improvement. We can begin to ask ourselves questions. Where do these emotions come from? Why do I behave in a certain way? Why do I think the way I do about myself and about others? Why am I angry? Why am I sad? Why am I happy? What brings me peace? What lights me up?
  • Yoga gives you the space to slow down, disconnect from the external world and tune into the world of “you.” It enables us to better understand ourselves and to really tap into our own potential. Live life authentically. Bring all of you into the light and share your very own unique gifts. We all have them.

It really is self-improvement on an astronomical scale. Being still allows us to be able to hear our gut(intuition), understand ourselves better, let go of what we are holding onto, realise what needs to change in our life, gives us strength, helps us cry, heal from old wounds and to grow as human beings. We can become more grounded, more centred, less reactive, peaceful, calm, and ultimately free.  When I think of the true essence of Yoga and what it can offer us all,  it is truly magical.

I hope this perhaps helps you look at your Yoga practice in a different way, to see that it’s so much more than a class where we move our bodies.

Every time you stand or sit on your mat you are demonstrating kindness and self-care not only for yourself but for others too. It’s a ripple effect.  Time spent on improving yourself and improving the quality of your life is a true gift.

Make your Yoga practice a representation of your daily life and your life will change.

Give it a try.

KP xx