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19 life lessons learned on a yoga mat

10,000 years. Maybe less. Maybe more.

This is the amount of time that yoga has been evolving. In fact, Vedic yoga has been traced back to 3,000 B.C. and many researchers believe that yoga existed 5,000± years before that. That’s 3,650,000 days of practice.

It all began with a spark of curiosity about the mystery of being alive. And eventually evolved in the caves of India where spiritual outcasts retreated into themselves to discover the hidden realms of reality.

The first yogis were the spiritual quantum physicists of their time, discovering the subtle realms of energy and consciousness through deep meditation and contemplation. After devoting lifetimes to this exploration, these yogis passed down their understanding and practices to their followers. Yoga evolved in this way for centuries, preserved in an oral tradition and expanded upon through practice.

Today, for better or worse, you can practice yoga without knowing anything about its depth or origins. Embraced by fitness enthusiasts everywhere, yoga has evolved and morphed into a practice for mere mortals. Truly anyone can practice, at home, online, in yoga studios and in Ashrams. While some may criticize the yoga of today for its focus on the physical practice and obsession with yoga pants, there are plenty of teachers who bring depth and respect to the practice. And, no matter who is teaching the class, there are incredible life lessons to be learned on your mat.

As another year comes to a close, I thought it fitting to share 19 life lessons that I have learned on my mat.

1. Showing up is 90% of the practice.

As Brené Brown once said, “The willingness to show up changes us, It makes us a little braver each time.”

2. Paying attention is the other 10%.

Life is short. And so is the practice. Pay attention or you’ll miss it.

3. Just breathe.

The breath is the connection between the mind and the body that allows you to be present.

4. The time is now.

Not when you finally look perfect in your yoga pants, or when you can float up into a handstand. Not when you are strong enough to take Vinyasa II or humble enough to settle into your yin practice. Not when you are beautiful enough, courageous enough, strong enough, flexible enough, focused enough, smart enough, and have enough time. Do not defer your happiness. The time is now.

5. Take your time.

Take the time it takes to feel your yoga. Let your breath deepen and move you. Move from that place inside of you where time stops and presence begins.

6. The other students in the room & the teacher all basically want the same thing.

An amazing yoga butt…

No really… they also want love, acceptance, validation, and the peace of mind & security that comes with stepping onto the mat again and again.

7. Discipline is freedom.

Pleasure & joy on the mat & in life comes with a healthy dose of discipline. Watch this video to discover why:

8. It’s all practice.

Each time we step onto the mat we practice. And then, every moment of every day, the practice continues. It’s called practice, because we haven’t done it before, not this moment or the next one. We are always beginners. And so, we practice.

9. Wherever you go, there you are.

And wherever your mat goes, there you practice. In the studio, at home, in Tulum, or in the caves of India. You go and your practice stays with you. Your practice shapes you and you shape your practice. That’s the beauty of yoga.

10. You can’t please everyone.

On the mat. Off the mat. Teaching from the mat. There’s no pleasing everyone. Practice your yoga. Teach your yoga. And your students will find you.

11. Be a C student.

Don’t try to be perfect. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Because then you will learn.

12. March to the beat of your own drum.

The mat is a perfect place to practice marching to the beat of your own drum… no matter what the teacher says.

13. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

This is the power of a yoga practice.

14. The thing you are seeking is inside of yourself.

#GoDeeper with Dr. Wayne Dyer:

15. Be kind.

To yourself. To the person next to you. To the waitress or waiter who brings your coffee. Because underneath the facade, we all know the way you treat others is a reflection of your relationship with yourself. So when all else fails, be kind. Your kindness contains multitudes.

16. Cultivate curiosity.

Because that’s what sparked yoga in the first place.

17. Stop thinking so much.

Ahhhhh, peace of mind at last.

18. There is beauty in simplicity.

A simple practice, one that is mindful and deliberate, may be the most beautiful practice. There is no need to fill it up with fancy tricks and complicated words. Just breathe & listen.

19. There’s no destination, aside from Savasana, of course.

Like I said before, the time is now. When I am future focused, I like this video to bring my mind back to the present moment:

 

*Featured Photo by Andressa Voltolini on Unsplash