The Universe presents us with a number of teachers throughout our lifetime. Each teacher who comes along is meant to teach us a valuable lesson, whether it be positive or negative. There are a wide variety of teachers. Sometimes they’re people. Sometimes they’re situations. Sometimes they can even be your own personal yoga practice. My Bikram Yoga practice has been an important teacher for me over the last few months and has taught me a number of valuable lessons.
Lesson #1: Slow Down
I don’t know how many times I’ve been running late for something and no matter how fast I try to get there, the Universe forces me to slow down. I get stopped at every red light. There’s more traffic than usual. People are driving under the posted speed limit. I can’t find a parking space. By the time I get to wherever I’m going, I’m stressed out and completely frazzled. I hate it even more when that final destination is a yoga class. Isn’t showing up for a yoga class in this state of mind counterintuitive?
Maybe it’s all part of the master plan. No matter what state of mind I show up for a yoga class in, I know that once I get unpacked and settled in, I have the next 90 minutes all to myself. I get to shut out the outside world and just be with myself, on my mat. This is my time to recharge. I don’t have to do anything else other than the next posture and breathe. By the time I’m finished with class, I find myself walking slower, thinking clearer, smiling at complete strangers and am always so much happier. My yoga practice forces me to slow it down and I’ve learned to really enjoy the pace.
Lesson #2: I Get Answers
Yoga helps me make good decisions. It could be anything from deciding which step I need to take next on a project to what I want to eat for my next meal. If I have a decision I need to make, all I have to do is tap into the situation mentally during class and I’ll have my answer by the final breathing exercise at the end of class.
Lesson #3: Yoga Can Heal
I used to have constant pain in my right knee. I’m pretty sure it was from years of wakeboarding and snowboarding because the sharp pain would always flare up after a long day of riding. I never went to see a doctor about the pain because I was afraid they’d tell me I’d need surgery. The pain was so uncomfortable, I couldn’t even sit with my legs crossed. Then there were the constant headaches. Headaches were so common, I couldn’t go anywhere without a bottle of Advil.
Once I started showing up for yoga on a regular basis, something really amazing happened. The pain in my knee went away and the headaches stopped. I don’t understand the science behind Bikram Yoga, but I do know that I no longer feel pain in my knees. I can sit crossed legged comfortably for long periods of time. As for the headaches, as long as I drink plenty of water throughout the day, get a good night’s sleep and keep my stress levels in check by maintaining my regular yoga practice, the headaches stay away. I’m a firm believer that yoga can heal.
Lesson #4: Accomplishing A Goal Feels Good
I recently challenged myself to take one Bikram Yoga class everyday for 30 days in a row. I not only achieved my goal, but I made it through 45 days of non-stop yoga. Not only did my body physically feel good, but my mind felt amazing. I forgot how good it feels to set a goal and then crush it. I’m already planning my next challenge for the New Year.
Lesson #5: Being Positive Is Powerful
I’ve been in the midst of dealing with a very difficult situation over the last couple of months. In the past when I’ve had to deal with a tough situation, I would waste a lot of time feeling sorry for myself and be negative. This time around, I decided to dive back into my yoga practice. Instead of hitting the snooze button in the morning and tell myself how sad I am, I choose to get out of bed and head into class. I show up for class everyday, no matter what my internal dialogue has to say. What keeps me going to class? Honestly, it’s the amazing feeling that comes over me as soon as I walk into the studio. The first step is getting there. Then the next step is completing the class. By 7:30am, I gift myself 90 minutes of concentration, hard work, and sweat along with an incredible a sense of accomplishment. How could I not feel good about myself?
This positive feeling stays with me long after class and throughout my day. This same positive feeling has also played an important role in helping me keep my head on straight during one of the most difficult times in my life. Without it, I don’t think I’d have the power to face what I’ve been going through. My yoga practice makes me stronger both physically and mentally. That’s powerful stuff.
Get to class, show up on your yoga mat and see what your practice will teach you.