Lessons from Yoga


Last week I tried something completely new in honor of my girl’s birthday: hot yoga. Now, I’ve done yoga a few times before, in the comfort of my living room, while using the Yoga App on my 4G Apple TV. Entering the studio, I was no expert but I was certainly no stranger to yoga poses, nor the 90+ degree heat - I take biweekly trips to the sauna because I’m a summer baby, and heat is life. But, I’d be lying if I said my inexperience didn’t lend to some nervousness walking in.

As we entered the studio I was delighted by its temperature and the encouraging presence of the instructor. It wasn’t as stuffy as I had originally thought it would be; in fact, the heat was refreshing. I grabbed a mat, some blocks that I never used before, and a cushion to alleviate some of the anticipated pain from my knees being on the hard floor; It was do or die at this point.

We began with warming up using easier poses, and quickly snuck off into the land of intermediate yoga. I could’ve sworn this was a beginner’s class. About 20 minutes in I was dripping in sweat and had to put my glasses to the side because they were slipping off. At certain points in the session, Instructor Josh spoke inspiration ever so softly while walking around the room making sure our form was right. One of his themes for the night was that we are already equipped with exactly what we need for where we are in life. 

This is an idea that I firmly stand on, and even wrote about (you can read it here). Josh spent a lot of time reminding us that the expertise of those in the room won’t be ours, and that’s okay. That, we ought to settle in contentment for exactly where we are. That we ought not complain or be dissatisfied with our place in life, but rejoice that we are constantly growing and will one day be where we hope to be. This was powerful as I looked around the room at the more experienced yogis. It was motivation for me through the various breaks I had to take when the poses became too challenging, or my hands started slipping off the mat. I held onto those nuggets and made it through the hour-and-a-half-long hot yoga class that felt more like 3 hours.

As the instructor turned the lights completely off and left us with his final words, I couldn’t help but to feel more accomplished than I ever had. “You have all you need,” he said. I let that rest in my spirit for the rest of the night.

I was so proud of having made it through, despite the breaks I had to take or the modifications to the moves. I was encouraged by having pushed my body in ways I never before had to. I was empowered by actually conquering the workout — on my own terms. It was a beautiful feeling, and there were beautiful lessons that came as I reflected at the end of that session.

1. I can get through anything. I know we say it to ourselves all the time, but how often do we really feel it? In that moment, I felt it. I walked in to that room confident, and twenty minutes in that confidence faded. However, that didn’t stop me from actually trying to make it through. In fact, my exhaustion/weakness midway, made me want to push myself harder. I was determined to make it through, and I did all that I could to do so. If we navigate our everyday lives with this same motivation we could achieve so much. If we recognize that everything is a process, then we allow ourselves the grace, and the patience, to accomplish what we set out to — on our own terms. We truly can get through anything we commit to, and there’s tons of beauty in pushing through to that desired end.

2. I can get back up. It doesn’t matter how often we fall, we can get back up just as many times. It doesn’t matter how often we need to modify our route, or slow down a little, as long as we get back on the path. I had to adjust myself and take a few breaks during that session, but when I felt like I could tackle it again, I got back to it. I didn’t care what anyone thought of me stopping, and I didn’t care what anyone else could do - I simply stayed true to my own ability; my own process. We are all well on a long journey toward destiny, and we will all get there as long as we keep getting up. The road to success isn’t about getting there with no mistakes, it’s about getting there — period. So get up, and get there.

3. It will get harder before it gets easier. I hadn’t expected that during class. I was certain the the more poses I master, the easier the next pose would be. I thought that with every inch my body stretched, my body would easily transition to the next one. I was fooled. The more the class continued, the more exhausted I became. I grew frustrated that the session wasn’t over. I was tired of my hands slipping from the sweat, and drained from the way I’d been contorting my body for the last hour. I wasn't sure when the class would be over, but I knew I was ready for it to end. That seems to be a steady theme in life. The closer we get to the end of our tunnel, the darker it becomes. The closer we get to victory, the tougher the battle gets. This was a physical manifestation of that, and it’s no coincidence. Every bit of your journey toward triumph has that final moment of pain, or exhaustion, or temporary feeling of defeat. Before you apply for the job of your dreams, you may go through hardship in your current job. Before you free yourself from relational bondage, you may experience drama in that relationship. Before you’re healed, you’ll experience the very draining process of shedding your layers. Nothing good comes without a trial before it. It’s unavoidable. Just know, that when you feel like it’s darkest, you’re on the brink of breakthrough; stay the course.

4. I am victorious. I was created to win battles and conquer this life. When starting the class I knew I would finish; leaving midway through wasn’t an option. I hadn’t forfeited my $20 to quit. I hadn’t worked that hard to give up 30 minutes in, 45 minutes in, or even an hour in. The more tired and frustrated I became, the more I knew I had to finish. And when I finished, I felt more powerful than I ever had. I pushed myself and my body. I stuck with it. I was committed. I paced myself by paying attention to my body—my journey—not the one of those around me. I stayed focused on me and my end goal: making it through. And because of that, I saw it through. It would have been easy to get up and leave. To sit in the corner until the class finished. But I kept going. I kept fighting. While I’d love to encourage you and say that victory is guaranteed, it isn’t. Victory is only achieved by those with the willingness to see their journey through to the end. It’s afforded to those with the gall to keep going. It’s gifted to those who worked hard and trusted themselves enough to get through it. I did just that. As challenging as it became, I kept my eye on the prize. I stayed focused, I saw it through, and I conquered. I will remember that feeling for every battle I endure going forward. I will remember that high for as long as I’m in my right mind. I will hold onto it for every hardship that comes my way. Because I am willing to fight, and I will be victorious.

I knew yoga had healing properties, but I had no idea I’d walk away with lessons as powerful as these. I felt more motivated than ever walking out of that 90 degree room. I felt ready to take on the world and conquer every battle I foresee. But for now I’ll simply settle for another hot yoga session.

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