everything i need to know, i'm learning from YOGA: weeks 1-4

Feb 5, 2013

This week marks my forth week of regular yoga classes. I seriously cannot believe I’ve stuck to something consistently for an entire month, that is VERY un-Marina like. But that’s the thing about yoga: it’s addicting. Getting to my mat is by far my favorite part of day. I usually go to class around 7- and by 3 I’m ITCHING to get to the studio.

I am in the VERY early stages of my study, but I cannot believe how much it has already changed my perspective on life. It was like a switch has been flipped. So I decided I’ll share my journey, and encourage others to join me :)

Here is what I have learned so far:

If it doesn’t make you uncomfortable, you’re not getting anything out of it.

Let’s talk about Utkatasana (Chair pose). This is my “oh no, please not this” pose. You see before I started going to hot yoga, I had never actually felt my muscles “burn”. As soon as my body started to feel uncomfortable doing something, I would stop whatever I was doing. So, when my teacher had us in utkatasana on my first day of class, I wanted out as soon as my legs started to ache. That is when he said, “When you start to feel uncomfortable, and you still decide to go deeper into the pose - that is yoga”. I held it, and held it, and held it. MY GOD IT ACTUALLY FELT LIKE MY THIGHS WERE ON FIRE!!!!! But I held it, and when the moment passed I had never felt more proud of myself in my entire life. I literally had the BIGGEST grin my mouth could possibly form. These moments still creep up every day on my mat, I could half ass the pose and get by, or I can face the discomfort, embrace the pain- and let it pass, and when it does have the most satisfying feeling of accomplishment imaginable.

Acknowledge the feeling, then let it pass.

Being raised in an Italian/Catholic family I know two feelings: guilt & shame. When I mess up, I feel guilty. I react towards my negative actions or thoughts, with more negative actions and thoughts. I’ll let a 2 minute blip of embarrassment, or anger be the focus of my entire day. It’s a cycle of negativity!! Yoga has taught me that it is okay to acknowledge whatever feeling you are having. Whether it is fear, failure, pride, or anger. But once you have acknowledged that feeling- let. it. go. Do not sit there and get MAD at yourself for getting MAD. Just let the feeling come up, and pass. Turn the light inside yourself back on and let it drown the darkness.

Your ego is trouble, trouble, trouble!!!

99.9999999999% of the time I don’t do something because I am afraid to fail. The “What ifs” run my life. What if I look stupid? What if I embarrass myself? What if I fall?  One of the most challenging parts of yoga is not letting your ego interrupt your practice. Something as simple as taking an easier modification of a pose if you are not ready to do the full pose is a challenge because of our egos. “I don’t want to look stupid, everyone else is doing the full pose.” That moment you look at yourself in the mirror and think “my arms are SOO big and flabby”-that’s your ego. There is no shame in wherever you are in life, or in your practice. Once you can let go of your ego, you will find true peace…..too bad that’s the hardest part of life.

I am so much greater than I ever imagined.

I spent 23 years of my life talking myself down. I wasn’t smart enough, pretty enough, good enough, confident enough, talented enough, brave enough. I had talked myself into believing these things when NONE of them were true. I am truly my own worst enemy. As I sit on my mat, usually at the end of the day, in a hot, humid room I acknowledge the fact that I made it there to practice! I am enough just because I came when I had a million excuses not to. I am enough when I want to stop SO bad, but I keep pushing. I am enough when I have to stop, because I am tired, or thirsty. I have found even when I fail- I feel a million times better than when I never tried. Who knew that pushing yourself 3 more breathes in a pose could allow you to see how GREAT you truly are?

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