My yoga mat has been my place of refuge, my place of contemplation, my place of self-discovery. My mirror for the good, the bad and the ugly. Time and time again I step into the unknown, only to find that everything I need, everything I am wondering about, lies on my yoga mat.

I look back at myself five, even ten years ago, and find that I am still the same person. Even memories as a child are laced into who I am today. But the difference is that how I see the world, how I see myself, and how I chose to live – is drastically different.

For some yoga is a savior for their physical bodies: to be saved from inflexibility, headaches, cramped feet, or to regain the body they have been long searching for. But for me, my yoga practice has taught me how to actually be able to look at my body and befriend it. I can look at my life and no longer see myself as the victim. Rather, I see myself as the person at the wheel, in control.

I tear up thinking about what I have been through and what I have put myself through. Only to come out bright-eyed and ready to move on with no regrets. And I never thought I’d say that. The tears that come are only tears of joy and amazement that my mat brought this to me.

Our Yoga Practice is a Promise to Ourselves That we Want More and Deserve More.

Yoga is so powerful and unique in that it is an experience and a practice. If you are not ready to step onto the mat, then the change will not happen. I have not only seen this in myself, but also my students over the last decade of teaching.

To me, Yoga is the most real that someone can get with themselves. The lies will eventually rise to the surface, the false hopes will eventually go sour and the work will time and time again be put back in our court. What I’m trying to say is that life becomes a lot sweeter when we start to trust that the universe and our Creator has our best interest at heart. That we might not know it all, and that no matter how “good, smart, elite, or savvy” we think we are, there must still be a humbleness to remind us that there is always something to learn.

Interestingly, My Journey was the Opposite.

For much of my life, I felt lesser. I felt that I was the one always lacking, or missing the bar. For me, my yoga mat became a constant reminder that I am great today, just as I am… even during my stages of recovery. I began to stop seeing myself as “messing up” day after day. Now I am thanking life and God for the opportunity to be aware of what I need to learn and how I can change.

I post a Facebook quote of the day, a Daily Dose of Hope. It is usually something from my heart. I had posted a few months ago a quote stating:

You know you are ready for change when you come to realize that what you see in other people and don’t like is a mirror for what you need to see in yourself and begin to change.”

For me, this simple thought was such an eye-opener. This awareness not only helped me to grow and realize what I needed to change in myself, but to also realize what I didn’t and did want to take into my life. Without awareness, you will never grow. There will never be change, and that box you feel stuck in… It will still be that box and you will still be in it.

Stepping out Means Taking a Chance.

It means trusting without immediate proof. Sometimes you have to go with your gut, trusting that you are being guided. Trust that what you are doing is right. If you don’t like your life, where you are, or what you are doing – ask yourself…

What am I doing to move beyond this? 

What am I doing to make a change?

Are you tired in the morning? Well then stop going to bed at 12am. Sick of all the mess? Well then go clean it up. Who are we all waiting for? What formula do I not know about that fixes all problems, all people, all situations? The only formula I know is the one where I start to take care of me, work on me, and change me. Because that is the only way I know to get to where I want to be.

If you pray and ask for guidance, once you get the guidance it’s your job to take it and act on it. When you meditate for peace, it’s your job to work to keep the peace. If you ask for help and suggestions to regain your health, well then you have to follow through to see the results.

So how does this all tie back to a yoga practice? On our yoga mat we see ourselves as we truly are, raw and willing to do the work necessary to move forward or make change. Even if we are not ready, at least now we are aware and it becomes our choice what to do with that awareness.

One Legged Forward Bend

The sweetness in me bows to the sweetness in you…

Namaste

This post was originally written for MindBodyGreen, and updated on Oct 7, 2019.

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