My yoga mat: a place of refuge and time of growth each and every time I step onto it.

_My mat has been my place of refuge, my place of contemplation, my place of self-discover and my mirror for the good, the bad and the ugly.  Time and time again, I step into another time zone or something, 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 I find are laced into who I am today.  But the only difference is how I see the world, how I see myself and how I chose to live life- 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 look at my body and befriend it.  To look at my life and no longer see myself as the victim but rather the person at the wheel.  I tear up thinking about what I have been through, only to come out bright eyed and ready to move on with no regrets (and I never thought I’d say that).  And the tears are only tears of joy and amazement that my mat brought that to me.

What yoga means to us

Our yoga practice is a promise to ourselves that we want more and deserve more.  And I believe that what makes yoga so unique is that ultimately, if you are not ready to step onto the mat, the change will not happen.  I have not only seen this in myself but students over the last, almost decade of teaching.  Yoga to me is the most real that someone can get with themselves (at least the yoga I practice). The lies will eventually rise to the surface, the false hopes will eventually go sour and the work will repeatedly be put back in our court.  Life becomes a lot sweeter when we start to trust that the universe and our Creator have our best interest at heart. That we might not know it all. And no matter how “good, smart, elite, or savvy” we think we are, that must still be a humbleness to remind us that there is always something to learn. 

Interestingly enough, my journey was the opposite. I, much of my life, felt lesser, that I was the one always lacking, or missing the bar. So 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. Rather, I thanked life and God for the opportunity to be aware of what I need to learn and how I can change.

Motivation Towards Awareness

I post a Facebook quote of the day, usually something from my heart (yep, look for me and Copper Tree on there!) and I had posted a few days 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 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 what to take into my life.  Basically, an awareness, and without awareness you will never grow – there will never be change and that box you feel stuck in, 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 going with our gut. Trusting that you are being guided and that what you are doing is right.  Simply put, if you don’t like your life, like where you are or what you are doing, ask yourself… What am I doing to move beyond this or make a change?  Are you tired in the morning? Well then, stop going to bed at 12am. Sick of all the mess? Then go clean it up.  Who are we all waiting for?  What formula do I not know about that fixes all problems and people, all situations?  Because the only formula I know is the one where I start to take care of me, and work on me, and change me, because that is the only way I know of to get to where I want to be.

Don’t ask for it, if you aren’t willing to work for it

If you pray and ask for guidance, then once you get the guidance it’s your job to take it; if you meditate for peace, it’s your job to work to keep the peace.  Ask for help and suggestions to regain your health, then you must follow through to see the results.  So how does this all tie back to a yoga practice?  On our 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.

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