The practice of yoga can be a great way to not only maintain your body’s physical wellness, but your mental and emotional wellness also. The lessons you learn on the mat — in regards to both your outer and inner well beings— remain with you in both times of stress and peace. Even teaching ourselves how to cope with difficult poses, can help us to learn how to cope with the stresses of every day life.
In a yoga class, you will never forget to breathe. Mostly because your instructor will never cease to remind you, but it’s a good habit to develop anyway. A lot of us, when stressed, have a tendency to hold our breathe for a moment or two. Or we may breathe so quickly and fiercely, it nearly negates the purpose of breathing entirely. Yoga teaches you to slow down and value the effort of your breathing. You take deep breaths, intentional breaths, slow and meaningful breaths. They may not serve to completely calm you or elevate the stress, but at least focusing on your breath for just a few minutes will give you time to reflect on the situation.
So you may have thought Lotus or Crow pose looked easy, but no book or instructional video could prepare you for how it felt to actually do it. I bet it was difficult the first time, and it may have felt uncomfortable. You probably felt the burn in your biceps or thighs and were forced to release the pose or risk the world’s worst cluster of cramps, in an humiliating handful of seconds. You weren’t nearly as strong as you thought you were. In yoga, arrogance can either get you embarrassed or injured. No matter how proficient you believe your skills to be, approach every pose like a novice. Pay attention. Absorb every detail of the bend in your spine, the position of your feet, the pace of your breathing.
Speaking of falling out of that difficult pose, don’t worry about it. One of the principles any yoga instructor teaches, is not to push your body beyond its limits. When there is tension, sometimes the best course of action (and best way to save yourself a lot of pain) is to just release. You can always try again later. Keep up the practice. Perhaps invest in a knee brace, so to speak. Understanding when to stop and when to persevere can help you through a lot of tough, physical, and emotional situations.
Or lack thereof. Your body is not perfectly symmetrical. It never will be. And that’s something most of us don’t realize until we’ve perfectly mastered the side plank pose on our right side, but can’t seem to make it passed the collapsible elbow on our left. Life isn’t perfect either, and sometimes it’s nice to simply have an understand what aspects of your life are within and beyond our control.
Take a deep humble breath and release all need for symetry!