6 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Yoga

Okay, I promise this will be the last yoga post for awhile. I just can’t help it. My life has changed a lot lately, and yoga has healed, calmed and carried me through it all. After two years of practice, it’s clear to me that yoga alleviates much of the suffering and anxiety we impose on ourselves.

Yoga is a lifelong practice, and its benefits extend beyond the body. One of my yoga instructors describes it perfectly: “To learn to control the body, we learn to control the breath. When we learn to control the breath, we learn to control the mind.” Yoga does improve fitness, but awareness, self-control and inner calm are the real rewards.

Recently, I’ve thought a lot about how the lessons I learn in yoga extend beyond my practice. These ideas are helpful when applied to exercise, but enlightening when applied to life.
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Crochet Yoga Mat Strap

It’s amazing how many things you can crochet if you put your mind to it. I needed a strap to carry my yoga mat, but I didn’t particularly care for the velcro-y patterned ones sold at places like Target.

Crocheted yoga mat strap by LorynwithaY

All together it’s only three rows of SC, with one adjustment: on the second row, SC two, chain 3 & skip 3, and then continue your SC until 5 from the other end, then chain 3 & skip 3, then SC two and turn for the final row. This gives you two gaps, one on each end. When you’ve finished and tied off, pull an end through each gap so you have two adjustable loops on each end. Wrap over your mat and enjoy!

I made mine out of jute, but if you want to use a normal yarn without sacrificing strap width, all you need to do is add more rows. Just make sure you do an odd number and the row with the gaps is in the middle.

Yoga Thoughts

I’d like to start this post with a disclaimer: I’m not a designer. My color theory sucks, and I’m generally not very visually imaginative. About the only thing I have going for me in the design department is my insistence that everything be understated and properly aligned. That’s it.

But when I was in yoga class the other day (as part of the DFW Free Day of Yoga — look for it next year!), I heard a phrase that really hit home. And when I got home, I had an insatiable urge to make it into a Pinterest-like typographic quote so I could look at it for inspiration. And here it is.

Yoga Thoughts by LorynwithaY

I often struggle with thinking too much during yoga or meditation or when I’m trying to sleep or just… any time. So when the instructor said this,  it just worked for me. I envisioned myself doing a downward dog in the middle of a quiet, italicized e, and my mind was quiet, contemplating the space. Not the letters, words or phrases, but the space.

I hope this helps you find your space.

Meditation and Keeping Yoga Sacred

I have a secret to tell you. Something I’m really proud of. And I hope telling you won’t spoil it. It’s called I’ve Practiced Yoga Every Day For the Past Two Months.

Well… mostly. I’ve done yoga every work day on every normal morning for the past two months. The thing I’m most proud of is that I’ve successfully made yoga practice part of my weekday morning routine. For me, that’s a Big Deal.

Like most routines, it was easy to start, but difficult to keep going. After the first few weeks I found myself waking up sluggish, wanting to sleep twenty more minutes, resenting my Sun Salutations. I knew I enjoyed practicing yoga, so I made a more focused effort to motivate myself. Ah, there it is. Motivation.

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Friday Five: Namaste

Is it stereotypical that I love yoga? I write, read, love to cook with fresh ingredients, eat avocados with a spoon… Maybe. But it fits me. I used to dance quite a bit, so traditional endurance or strength training exercise bores me, and peppy aerobics classes are fun on occasion but get rather annoying with frequent repetition. So, I do yoga.
     My brand of yoga is a blend between Hatha and Vinyasa, but I really don’t categorize. If I find something that I like, I incorporate it, regardless of the school. That being said, I do still have a spiritual connection with yoga (how can you not?) and different poses inspire different feelings and meanings.

1) Lotus (Padmasana)

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The lotus pose is my preferred meditation pose. Cliché? Sure, but it works. It also is a pose I am naturally inclined to — I have always been quite flexible, and the lotus came easily for me, which I am very grateful for.

2) Warrior II (Virabhadra)

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There is so much strength in all of the warrior poses, but in this one I feel the most like a tribal woman warrior, in tune with my own body and self-assured, ready to conquer whatever comes my way. I especially like the visual of flattening myself in between two panels of glass, becoming a perfectly straight, thin line. The alignment in this pose makes me feel very focused and invigorated.

3) The Crane (Bakasana)

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The crane is my current challenge. It was only introduced to me tonight, and I have taken it upon myself to perfect it. I have never had much upper body strength so it will be difficult, but I have faith. This pose, to me, is a dream that I know I can realize, and dreams like that are so integral to self-development.

4) Tree pose (Vrishka-asana)

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Speaking of challenges, for all of my dance experience, I still seem to have more difficulty with most with balance. Just ask my friends, I’m a klutz. The tree pose represents an ongoing challenge I face with my body, that I may never completely overcome, but that I can still disguise with grace (in yoga if not real life!).

5) Shoulder stand (Salamba Sarvangasana)

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There is something beautiful about a world turned upside down. The first time I attempted a shoulder stand, I was struck at how far above my head my feet were, although they weren’t even as far as they were from my eyes normally! I love the shoulder stand because it forces my body to act and my mind to look at the world differently (and it’s not as hard as an actual headstand!).

My yoga may be simplistic — I know very well that I’m not an expert — but I am happy where I am because I know I am moving forward. With yoga, I will never be stuck in a rut. There is always room for improvement, always something new to learn, and always a smile at the end of each practice. Namaste!