I have never been an “athletic” person. I’ve always enjoyed hiking. Dancing has also been a wonderful physical outlet for me and I trained in dance classes for years throughout my childhood and adolescence. But sports never felt right for me. I’ve always felt slightly judged when I’ve gone to the gym to work out, even though I know most of those feelings are just created in my own head and are the results of my own insecurities.
I have never felt truly comfortable in my own body.
Until yoga. And while my journey has not been perfect and I am still learning to love myself more everyday, yoga has taught me so much about myself and has helped me connect with my own body.
In the hopes that this piece can be helpful to others, I will be sharing some lessons that I feel my yoga practice has helped to teach me and areas in my life that have improved since beginning to regularly partake in yoga routines over the past few months.
The only way you can become “good” at something is by starting.
I think this is an important sentiment to remember in all areas of life. Before I began taking yoga classes and practicing yoga on my own, I was worried about not being able to hold the more difficult poses. But if you will never learn anything unless you start doing something. Everyone starts somewhere and you can’t learn anything until you begin trying it yourself. This applies to all activities, including learning new computer programs for your career, cooking new styles of food, sewing and so much more.
If there is a hobby or a skill you’ve been wanting to learn but you’re stopping yourself because you feel that you will be bad at it, this is your sign to start!
it is important to stop and breathe.
This may seem like a very yoga-focused lesson, but it has already helped me so much in my daily life.
When I started practicing yoga more regularly, I noticed that I kept forgetting to breathe. I could never keep up with the instructors calls since they were all based on “inhale” and “exhale” and I was not paying attention to my breathing. I was so focused on keeping up with the movements that mindfulness of breath was not part of my routine at all.
I feel like that visual also applies to the way I tend to move through my life. I have a tendency to just keep my head down and get it all done, instead of stopping to take note of how my body feels. Any time I start to feel overwhelmed, I am now trying to take a moment to myself to breathe deeper. I have already noticed how much better this has made me feel, as it helps to shift your focus to something you can control. Your breath.
Appearance does not matter as much as we think it does.
I am someone that has been insecure about my body since I was young. I have learned more and more each day that I have no reason to be, but it is still something I’m working on. Additionally, from my dance background, we were always told to watch our lines in the mirror. So naturally when I started doing yoga, I was really focused on the way my body looked while I was performing the movements.
I was so focused on my appearance that I was not really paying attention to how my body felt. Which is almost the whole point of yoga. Yoga allows you to connect with your body in such a unique way. Holding the poses longer and focusing on your breath really shifts your attention to the sensations in your body as you move.
When I started to stop focusing on the way I looked during my practice, I able to close my eyes and connect with myself more. Soon after that point, I didn’t even need a mirror for yoga. Now I am able to tell that I am completing most poses correctly solely based on how my body feels in each movement.
I am trying to focus on this in my daily life as well. As long as I feel good and my body feels good as well, that matters more than my appearance does.
even if it feels embarrassing to you, most people won’t notice. and if they do, they will forget about it in 5 minutes.
I have caught myself so many times stopping what I was doing because I was afraid of how other people would perceive my actions. This can apply to so many different things, including trying a more complex pose in yoga and then falling.
For example, I used to be afraid to raise my hand in lectures because I was worried to say the wrong answer or that people would think I was annoying for speaking up. Now I know from experience that it does not matter what other people think of me in that context. They probably don’t even care. And even if they did happen to think what I said was annoying or embarrassing, they probably would forget about it in 5 minutes.
Most people have more to worry about than what other people are doing or saying.