I’ve had a beautiful relationship with hot yoga for several years now. Whether you prefer Bikram, Vinyasa flow, Hatha, or other, there are some core principles that when realized can be applied to everyday life. Here are a few things that I’ve learned from my yoga practice.
Set your intentions –
At the beginning of yoga class I’m always instructed to set my intentions. Think of a goal that you will strive to reach during that yoga session. One goal may be to keep your mind clear of thoughts of work, or life’s issues throughout the class. You may have a goal to go within yourself and the outcome is holding a pose for 1 minute without falling out. In life we should also set our intentions every day. What do you want to achieve with the gift of a fresh day full of promise? Without goals then how do you know if you did your best, and when to celebrate? When you get up in the morning be happy in that day, and start off by setting your intentions
Remember to breathe –
Breathing is a core fundamental of yoga, meditation, and truly in life as well. In yoga there can be challenging postures where balance and endurance are essential. Life also puts us in compromising positions, and you may find yourself holding your breath. Breathing not only sends oxygen throughout your body, but it also allows a place of reprieve from stress. When you’re going through your day and find yourself in a tough conversation with another person, a work deliverable that is due in a challenging timeframe, or you’ve been given news that is very hard to bear, remember to breathe. Breathing nourishes your body, and it allows for a safe haven to clear your mind.
Don’t judge yourself –
Most yoga and exercise studios that I’ve seen have full length mirrors on the walls. It can be easy to fixate on “I wish my waistline was smaller” or whatever body image issues you may have. In a world full of advertising that markets that we should strive for an unattainable perfection, the foundation in yoga that I have learned is to leave that at the door. It is great to have goals even if it is to shed some pounds for health reasons, but you must know that you will never be perfect. The world may judge, but don’t judge yourself. Find solace in knowing that you are a unique and beautiful being just as you are.
Don’t compare yourself with others –
In yoga I was taught to not look at other people in the room because it can lead to comparison. You shouldn’t judge your pose against theirs, but rather focus on your own practice. It is fine to have goals to improve on whatever it is that you do. If you are constantly comparing yourself with others whether in a sport, at work, or walking down the street, then chances are that you’re never going to be good enough. You’ll also miss out on some much deserved personal celebrations. Rather than striving to be someone you’re not, simply be proud of yourself and your personal milestones.
Be thankful for what you can do –
Completing a yoga session and giving it your all throughout is an achievement. Success in yoga isn’t about holding a perfect pose, or never falling out of a pose. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, focus on what you can do. It is fine to keep track of the progress that you’re making over time, but don’t focus on shortfalls. We should celebrate our victories, even the small ones, and throughout all facets of our life. There is so much to be thankful for, and we must recognize that to truly be happy.
Replenish with water –
Before and after any yoga session is it imperative to stay hydrated. In hot yoga sweat falls freely, and it’s important to put that water back into your body as well as electrolytes. Whether you play a competitive sport, run, walk, or sit at a desk all day long, drinking water is key. Over half of our body is comprised of water, and there’s a myriad of resources out there that tell of the positive effects of water to the body. So no matter how active you are, fill up that water bottle and drink up. Your body and mind will thank you.
I have found many benefits from my yoga practice, and realized that it keeps body, mind, and soul in great shape. If you also love yoga please share what you’ve learned on your journey, or share your favorite pose with me on Twitter. Would love to hear. Wishing you all the best, and Happy International Yoga day.
©2015, Jennifer Davis All Rights Reserved