Yoga Is Not Just a Workout, -It’s About Working on Yourself
“You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.”
Yoga for me is very much a love-hate relationship. I love how I feel afterwards, and I love how my body changes and the strength I feel when I practice regularly. However, I hate when I take a few months off and I suddenly cannot do the poses the way I want to. Or, when I feel exhausted just halfway through a class. And I hate how much I struggle to remain “present” and calm, and compassionate with myself throughout each class. Doing a physical activity that is calm, and requires mindfulness can be difficult. I’m a runner; I want to put my headphones, listen to upbeat music, and run a few miles. Yoga is just the opposite of that. So for me, yoga is a challenge.
I recently started doing yoga again, after taking roughly six months off. Obviously, a few months away from it has changed my body, so I’m frequently frustrated with myself during class. Yes, yes, I know, yoga is about inner peace, self-compassion, doing what you can at your own pace, and being present, not self-judgment. In an attempt to stay cognizant of that during my class last night, I set a dedication of “kindness and love” and told myself to be kind in my thoughts, and to be kind to my body and to let go of my frustrations and just “be”.
Well, I tried and I failed. I was self-critical throughout almost the entire time. I probably felt weaker in that class that I have in every previous class recently. I was so frustrated. But at the end of the class as we lay still on our backs listening to the instructor thanking us for our presence and dedication he said something that put my thoughts back in perspective.
If we want to have peace in our lives and in the world, we must have peace within ourselves; we must have self-compassion, and be less self-critical. Instead of hate, have love, and express gratitude in our lives. Those who can express gratitude towards themselves and others cultivate happiness. Practice cultivating happiness. Practice cultivate compassion. Practice cultivating peace. Practice cultivating gratitude in each day.
And just like that, things were put back into perspective. This is the only body I will ever have. If I’m not where I would like to be physically, then I will continue to practice, and I will welcome the shift in strength and flexibility once again, without getting frustrated at the time this may take. And until then, I will practice self-compassion and be grateful that I have a body that allows me to practice, and more simply, that allows me to do every basic task throughout each day as it is these that we often take for granted.