My 30 Days of Yoga With Adriene ended a few days ago but I wasn’t ready to commit my closing thoughts to (electronic) paper yet. I wanted to figure out how to express the transformation I’ve experienced, how to convey its depth through words. Finally, I realize it just can’t be done. One thing I’ve learned in the last 30 days is that it can be hard to talk about having yoga in your life without sounding like an annoying dippy stereotype. Especially trying to talk about yoga as a gift that reaches all of the edges of your life as opposed to a mere physical exercise. Of course I can talk to my partner who is very interested and supportive, and to my parents because a) they are happy to hear it and b) even if I sound like an annoying dippy stereotype they smile and listen and support anyway because they do that. But beyond that, I’ve been gifted with an online community of aspiring yogis of all levels from many places on the planet.
Having access to this community of people has given me a place full of people who are equally eager to listen and to share in the experiences of all members. It’s been astoundingly supportive, even though it only exists online. And there’s always the possibility of finding a way to come together one day in a grand practice.
To boil down all that I’ve come to understand in these 30 days is to minimize the massive effects I’ve experienced. But to simplify, I can say that the daily physical and mental practice of yoga very quickly became an emotional, meditational, and yes, spiritual practice. There is a beautiful connection between what I’ve experienced on the mat and what I’ve experienced in day-to-day things. By coming to my mat each day with a beginner’s mind – a sense of curiosity and optimism, faith in my mental and physical ability to put myself into certain positions, to hold myself and find energy and ease in difficult positions, and to come out of positions of difficulty and strength with control and grace – I have practiced and embodied all of the skills that I want to carry with me through all of my day-to-day experiences. This, to me, is yoga. The transcendence of the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual practice from the mat into a way of living.
This past winter I started seeing a counsellor to help me sort through depression and anxiety and she suggested a mindfulness book and practice as a way of calming my anxious mind. The book was helpful and smart and made all the sense in the world to me, but alas, I gave up quickly on trying to access the stillness that the author prescribed. To my surprise, yoga has revealed itself as a most focused and calming mindfulness practice, and as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this practice of moving and manipulating my body, marrying my breath to my actions, and constantly learning what my body can do, has helped to reshape my perception of my body in no small way. Nine times out of ten, I now see strength and control when I look in the mirror – I see thighs that can hold me up in the most awesome warrior poses and big upper arms that can be used as a foundation to hold my entire body straight up in the air.
The most difficult thing is to refrain from telling everyone I meet that they MUST TRY YOGA TODAY. It’s only because I wish for everyone to experience the awesomeness that I’m experiencing. I remind myself that this daily practice didn’t come to me until I was ready, and everyone else is on a journey that may or may not lead to yoga (that’s right, I said everyone is on a journey).
I’ll leave you with an intention I’ve recently incorporated into every practice as a way of helping to further its reach to all edges and corners of my life. It’s a mantra really and it’s simply this – every day is different, every day is new. With this I allow myself to embrace each day – each day of work, each day of school reading, each day of paper writing, each day in my relationship – as new and different from the day before. I seek to embrace all of my daily experiences as new, as I embrace my practice on the mat every day as new. Every downward facing dog is a new one, one I’ve never made before. It’s a beautiful thing.
Happy World Yoga Day xo