Many of us; know yoga as a workout that involves breathing, different poses, and stretching. However, yoga is meant to unite the mind, body, and spirit in harmony as a way; to overcome suffering—something I think we could all use now and again.
I used to see yoga as just a workout without understanding the full spectrum of the practice, which is why engaging in a consistent yoga routine never really stuck. I knew yoga could be good for me since I am prone to overthink, but I still always had excuses why not sticking to a yoga routine: I’m not flexible, I don’t have any time, it costs too much money, etc. However, after I started attending a consistent class, I started seeing the benefit of it. Even then, I had no idea how it would end up impacting my life.
While each practice is different, showing up to my mat offers me a chance to turn my attention inward, allowing me to create positive changes in my life off the mat too.
At the beginning of most classes, instructors encourage yogis to set an intention for themselves and that day’s practice. This could be a word, a phrase, or how you want to feel as you move through the flow. I’ve found that setting an intention and coming back to it throughout the class helps me feel more grounded in my practice. I’ve brought this practice in life off the mat, and setting intentions can be a powerful way to frame each day to add a greater sense of purpose.
One of my favourite affirmations I learned in yoga is, “There is no rush.” I mean how often do you find yourself hurrying from one task to the next? Or being so invested in work only to look up and see how your day flew by? So much yoga is about intentionally slowing down and being at peace with each moment. When I am practising yoga, I am choosing to be present in each pose and sit with my thoughts and feelings. While I wouldn’t say I am fully present 100% of the time, I can confidently say that adopting this mindset in my day-to-day life has helped me savour moments, regardless of how mundane they may seem.
I like to consider myself a “recovering perfectionist,” as I have been intentionally working toward releasing my expectations of how I think my life should look or how experiences should be. Regularly practising yoga has played a huge role in this. With some poses, I feel strong, and in others, I feel like a knotted pretzel. As one of my instructors says, “Focus on how you feel, not how you think it should look.” Committing to a regular yoga practice to become more aligned with my body and mind and releasing preconceived notions have allowed me room for grace in other areas of my life. Poses do not have to be perfect and neither does every moment of your life. Showing up for yourself each day in the world is already enough.
One of the many aspects I enjoy about yoga is that every practice is a different experience. What feels good one day may be sticky or tight on another. Yoga is not about being in pain but rather finding your edge and seeing if you can expand just a little bit further. For me learning how to sit with discomfort has offered room for growth.
So here’s a reminder that feeling comfortable being uncomfortable has not only helped expand my yoga practice, but I also now see those uncomfortable; life situations off the mat as an opportunity to expand and grow as a person. Signing off, Caitlyn McAdam