One of the things I like best about yoga is that the lessons I learn on my mat almost always carry over into my life off the mat. Here are three lessons I learned through my yoga practice this past week:
- Stay humble. Last weekend, I participated in a yoga mala, which consists of 108 Sun Salutations. While I was initially intimidated by the practice, I was surprised that I felt pretty good at the end. I went out for brunch with friends afterward and kept saying, “Wow, that wasn’t so hard, I feel great!” I woke up the next morning with plans to go on a long run. That did not happen; my hamstrings felt like rubber bands that were pulled too tight. I had to go back to all my friends and tell them how sore I was (at least I wasn’t the only one.)
- You don’t know what you don’t know. In my yoga practice I have the tendency to both overestimate and underestimate my abilities. Sometimes I’ll look at a pose and think, “No problem, I can get into that bind!” only to find it more difficult than I assumed (refer to lesson #1.) This week, I underestimated myself. My teacher told me to try a forearm stand at the wall, without using any blocks like I’m used to. My first reaction was to simply say, “I can’t,” but before I got the words out of my mouth, I headed to the wall and did it. It wasn’t pretty, and my triceps are still aching days later, but I found strength I didn’t know I had.
- You are stronger than you think you are. Before this past week, I didn’t know I had the strength to do several hours worth of Sun Salutations or a forearm stand. But in the moment, I found that I had the strength and focus in me to complete both of these. It just takes a little faith that you have it in you!
I do think these are lessons that can be applied both on and off the mat. Set goals that challenge you, but that are achievable. If you hit some bumps along the way (because you don’t know what you don’t know!), tap into your strength to meet them head on. When you achieve your goals, celebrate the victory in a way that inspires both you and others.