"Focus on something to keep you balanced, preferably something that isn't going to move."
"Don't worry about anyone else beside you or in front of you, the only person you need to concentrate on is the person on your mat. You."
"Release, relax, let go!"
"Check in with yourself, your body, your breath."
These are 4 simple directions from my yoga class yesterday that resonated with me. "Hold on!", I said to myself whilst I was twisted like a pretzle, "These comments do not just have to pertain to my sixty minutes on the mat, they can go actually with me everyday."
That is what I absolutely love about yoga. It can be a fitness class, building strength, stamina, flexibility. You can sweat and feel your heart race and feel your body open up. But, it can also be, and almost always is, a lesson in living a better, easier life.
Don't worry I am going to try not to get too preachy! I just LOVE it!
Imagine, you are about 38 minutes into a yoga class and here you go with a few balancing postures. You have sweat dripping in your eyes and are a little shaky from 12 breaths in revolving chair on each side and your head is a bit sparkly from not breathing evenly in your forward bend because you were thinking about the curry you have made for tea. Off you go into Yamanasana (standing twist) with your leg extended out in front, holding your big toe with your trusty peace fingers and wondering if the cramp in your ankle is going to allow you to go on as you open your chest up to the side wall. And your breath is starting to shudder and you start to get the shakes and the frustration kicks in and then you hear those words: "Focus on something to keep you balanced..." After you realise that you need to stare at an imperfection in the wall as the person whose ponytail you were looking at has just toppled over like a Weeble, all of a sudden, you are calm and strong and could stand there and balance on one leg for ten minutes if you had to.
Now imagine you are 38 years into your life and you have so much that you want to achieve and you are suddenly in a panic that maybe you can't get it all done the way you want or that you don't have the money or you don't have the time. And so an so has the most amazing job and what's her name has this many children and...and...and your breath starts to shudder and your head gets a little sparkly and the frustration and panic kicks in. Then in your mind you hear those very same words "Focus on something to keep you balanced, preferably something that isn't going to move." Almost instantly your mind takes you to a place of security and you feel a little more calm and you can anchor yourself at that steady place of balance. You can breathe deeply and relax while you concentrate on the here and now and not worry about the what ifs and the unknowns.
Cool isn't it?
When I am in yoga I am pretty good. I carefully place my car keys, sunglasses, flip flops and my ego in the little pigeon holes at the front door and off I go. I don't compare myself to anyone else or compete with anyone else I just do it for me.
Because yoga is for you.
Why don't I have that mind set in life? I am constantly comparing myself to others. So when I heard those words; "Don't worry about anyone else beside you or infront of you, the only person you need to concentrate on is the person on your mat. You." Suddenly a light bulb dinged on top of my head. Of course! Not just in that yoga studio but everywhere. I don't have to answer to anyone but myself. I don't need to compare and try and keep up with the person next to me or push myself to look like the person in front of me. I just need to make sure that what I am doing is keeping me happy and fulfilled and balanced. Duh! Because after all, to us, we are the most important people right?
Now, that doesn't mean to say that you have to shit on all those around you or ignore people or become selfish. It just means that you don't have to keep up with the Jones'. Strive by all means but go at your own pace with your own body, mind and spirit as your focus. Free yourself from the stress of the challenge. Be who you are, who you want to be, not who the person next to you is.
And I get it now. You are allowed to relax. You are allowed to let go. You just have to keep checking in with yourself, breathing, and making sure that you are doing it all to the best of your ability at that particular moment.
And when I say "it", I mean, life. Doing life! Using all your assets, all your strength and courage and sensitivity and spirit and making it the most satisfying and rewarding experience.
If that's how I approach my hour yoga class everyday, why not my whole life?