How You Yoga Is How You Live
How you do one thing is how you do everything. Think about that for a second. That is what people mean when they say what you are is what you eat. Or why people think they know who you are when they see how you dress. It means that the small things matter. That the way you make your bed in the morning says something about how you value your space. The way you protect your boundaries says something about how you value your energy. Often a lot of these things happen unconsciously or by default, but they still tell a lot about you. You don't mean to, but damn you did it anyway. You wanted to but somehow something always gets in the way. It is important, but still we forget. And often we don't understand.
Unless we take one thing, and learn all about ourselves through it. Yoga has been that thing for me, for a lot of yogi's I know. The mat becomes our window into ourselves. It turns into this lab where we experiment, where we test new responses and where we cultivate the qualities that we miss in our lives. It is where we take resposibility and where we start to understand.
Do I feel overwhelmed and stressed and like my mind is doing a million things at once? Let me do a nice slow grounding flow, while my breath flows through my body washing the rush away.
Do I feel stuck and uncreative? Let me practise handstand. Shift my perspective. Go live on that edge of excitement and fear.
Am I angry? Let me sweat and move with vigor.
Do I feel judgemental and insecure? Let me move anyway, let me be close to my skin on the mat. Remember that I live there. Really see and feel without any mirrors involved. Let me be curious instead of judgemental.
Do I not see any possibilities? Let me come back to this mat everyday, and all of a sudden realizing my edge has moved. The range of what is possible inside has expanded slightly but noticeably. So that I can remind myself that something is already growing now that I will only see later.
Am I moving ridifly, does it hurt? Let me see how I can soften, or add a little grace. Am I comparing myself to others? Let me see if it matters. Can I see the beauty in what they do and then come back to my own experience? Am I being perfectionist? Am I forcing something here? Let me see if I can accept where I am and let myself go at a natural pace.
Am I feeling the way I want to feel? Let me see what I can do about it.
Our mat becomes the place where we bring everything that is going on, and transform it into something we can work with. Or at least understand it so we become less hard, so we can flow through it. And there is so much power in that.
In the beginning of a class or a practise, I often ask myself or whoever is there with me, to set an intention for exactly that purpose: to remind ourselves of why we are here and what we want. To take it with us as we move, to infuse our breath with it, so we can become it.
Because the mat is our window to see. The mat is our lab to test out new actions and responses to old situations. The mat is where we form answers to new questions. But yoga becomes much more. It becomes how we live, how we engage with others, how we feel about ourselves when no one is around and how we look at life when things are too strict or too loose or just right. What we do on the mat, does not stay there. It spills over into everythig else. Like lightning, or slow and steady. On purpose or by accident. It is not always in our own hands, but it never dissapoints.
So come to yoga, bring your everything. It is not about poses, but about how they feel and how you get from one pose to the next. It is about the grace and the curiosity. About the safety of a downward dog and the surprise of a handstand. It is not about picture perfect, not about reaching a goal. It is not about poses, no endpoints. It is life itself.