Things that yoga taught me

Hope you’ve had a lovely week so far, too!

After a cold spell (I say that but it was like… 50. Don’t be mad),

Snowy mountains  1 of 1

Tucson is back to it’s sunny, springy self; perfect for mornings at the zoo

Elephants

and long walks with Bellerton. (We still can’t get Caro to walk on a leash, even with her comfy harness. My nana suggested taking her on a walk holding bites of hot dog to give her along the way, so that’s the next step.)

I also had a fun yoga date with a friend, which was a special treat for a Monday night. I tend to be fickle with yoga even though it’s one of my favorites. My practice tends to ebb and flow, but I always come back to it, regretting the fact that I let it slip away for so long.

Buddha

Before I fell in love with yoga, here are some of the misconceptions that I had:

-It’s not a “real” workout. I envisioned people stretching and chanting; I was used to pounding my joints and sweating profusely. I figured it might not be my workout cup of tea.

-You practice it like a religion. I learned over time that yoga isn’t a religion, but rather the study of becoming present and the best you can be in each moment.

-It would be a huge financial and time commitment. It can be, but all you really need is a mat and a teacher, whether it’s via podcast, DVD or live class. (Or once you’ve been practicing for a while, you can do your own thing, which is one of my favorite ways to practice- I put on some Michael Buble and go for it.)

Once I started a regular practice, I started to crave it. The mental benefits were beyond anything I’d experienced, I did indeed get a great workout (an invigorating rather than exhausting one), and I found that the lessons I learned on the mat easily translated to everyday life.

Here are some of my favorites:

Walking  1 of 1 4

-The world doesn’t stop turning if you stop worrying. The nature of my personality is that I tend to be one step ahead of myself, always planning and anticipating what happens next. In the depths of my worst anxiety, I had a “plan” for everything- even emergency exits in public outings. Looking back, I don’t know how I put up with myself ;) When I found yoga, I had to stop worrying and thinking to focus on the pose, and for the first time, I realized what it meant to be present. It’s something I’ve carried with me, especially through all of life’s obstacles and sudden changes (which are common when you’re married to the military).

-Just breathe. There are moments in life where that’s all you can really do: take a deep breath. I’m convinced that by learning to breathe properly, it was one of the many factors that helped me make it through childbirth. (Even though, to be real, I was mooing, crying, groaning and squirming throughout.) In yoga, you face a point of tension and have to breathe through it- same goes in life.

Park thumb

-No one cares. Everyone else is usually too focused on themselves to worry about what you’re doing. Don’t obsess over doing every pose, or every action, perfectly- do the best you can at that day, at that time.

-Modify as needed. If something isn’t working for you, you have the freedom to change your current position. In yoga, there are so many variations of one pose. Some are more advanced than others, some are more tame- adjust to make it work for you. If you’re not happy about where you are in life: change it. Modify your plans, and adjust as necessary.

-if you fall, get back up and try again. No one (unless you’re a freak, haha) does everything perfectly on the first try. Don’t be afraid to fall or stumble along the way; you only fail if you QUIT.

Side plank

-You always have the chance to start fresh. You can change things right now, at this very second. Savansana at the end of a yoga practice indicates rebirth, just as you have the chance to always create a new you, entirely starting over. Be patient with yourself and remember that you don’t have to finish the way you start.

Do you practice yoga?

What are some lessons you’ve learned from your favorite workout? As always, I can’t wait to read about your experiences!

Have a wonderful day <3

xoxo

Gina

Some favorite yoga posts:

Becoming a yoga mommy

“Om” at home

Focus On: Bikram Yoga

Getting started with yoga

Focus On: Power Yoga

Yoga with weights

Prenatal yoga

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Comments

  1. Yoga has taught me to be calm and allow moments of silence. I feel like due to technology, people are always so focused on something else, instead of what they’re actually doing. So, yoga has taught me to be present!

  2. I love that post!! I can totally relate on so many points. My Yoga practise comes and goes. Sometimes I am obsessed, sometimes I don’t do it at all or something in between. Since it is SO expensive here in Switzerland I prefer to do it with DVD’s and ‘treat’ myself with a one class from time to time. This way it the class is SO special.
    Yoga taught me to relax. I figured how wonderfully healing it can be for my body to do Savasana. I also learned that my body thanks me for the Yoga poses. After intense workout days, Yoga is like a sip of water when you are totally thirsty. I can feel my body smile when I do Yoga and I am in love with that feeling.

    • Fitnessista says:

      “Yoga is like a sip of water when you are totally thirsty. I can feel my body smile when I do Yoga and I am in love with that feeling.”
      i love that so much <3

  3. I love this post! Way to take lessons from the mat and incorporate them into your life.

    The biggest thing that yoga taught me was about my own strength. Sometimes in yoga, I’ll be struggling through a pose, and my muscles are shaking, and I’m thinking to myself, “I can’t do this” and then I’ll catch my eyes in the mirror and just KNOW that I’m ok, and I can do this. I find in life sometimes I have that same moment, and because of yoga, I know that I’m stronger than I think and I can do anything.

  4. This post really resonated with me. I recently started re-incorporating yoga into my exercise regimen and it’s amazing the difference it has made in my mood in the past few weeks! I used to put it on the back burner in favor of “more intense” workouts, but I realized the importance of the mental and physical rejuvenation I experience when I’m on the mat. Yay yoga!

  5. I LOVE this post! Yoga is such a great parallel for life in so many ways. I used to feel exactly the same way when I first started (frustrated, awkward, feeling like it wasn’t a ‘real’ workout) but I’m so glad I stuck with it because practicing yoga has enriched my life in so many ways – many of which you detailed above. Thanks for sharing!

  6. So lovely! I adore this post. Yoga is so amazing, and although I don’t love it, I’ve learned a lot of the same things with pilates and my meditations every morning. Meditation has changed my life for the better!

  7. Lauren W. says:

    What a beautiful post, Gina. Couldn’t agree more with you on all points, and it’s nice to read something that brings you right back to center. Thanks!

  8. Great post! I’m making my return to yoga this week after a few months off and can’t wait. I agree, I tend to ebb and flow as well with yoga, but always feel great when I go regularly.

    My favorite lesson from yoga and barre has been that comparing yourself to others will not help you get there faster. It’s so easy to see someone more advanced than you and get frustrated. I like to look back at how far I’ve come personally and realized that I’ve made some sort of progress.

    Also, no one is paying attention to you, they are focusing on themselves. So it’s better if you do the same. I love that about yoga <3

  9. I loved this post as much as everyone else. Well done and thank you! A great reminder.

    Also, I agree with your nana – use Caro’s nose to over come her fears and pull her along walking. It is their strongest, most trusted and base sense. If you can, practice just up and down the driveway (only with her and not longer that 5 minutes of practice at first every day), guiding her with a treat she LOVES the smell of, rewarding even a few forward steps, and eventually keep adding distance & time. Once you have her moving forward consistently, add Bella to the short walk because they really do learn from observing other dogs, especially fellow pack members. Then add the stoller once she’ll go longer distances. My dog is afraid of things that roll (bikes, strollers, razors) and that stopped her from walking at first.

    Good luck!! Helping adopted fur kids overcome fears is tough but can be done. I’m still working on some things with mine. At her base nature, traveling with her pack is part of her DNA if you can overcome her fear condition. Don’t feel sorry for her (that’s a weak energy they reject) – act like the best coach, strong while kind.

  10. In my teacher training this weekend we were practicing crow. I held the pose better than I ever had before and when I realized this I immediately fell forward and my chin slammed into my mat. I LOVED IT (the lack of blood or loose teeth helped with this loving feeling)! :) It sounds so crazy but I NEEDED to fall because it was the thing I was most afraid of and the thing that had been holding me back. After that practicing arm balances like pendulum and firefly where your worst fall is on your butt was no sweat.

    This is so Barney but I really wish we could all take a virtual yoga class together. :)

  11. It’s been so long since I’ve practiced yoga, but I actually got up and did it this morning because I feel a heavy darkness in my life. I’m going to make it routine because I feel like I need that time with myself. This post came at the perfect time reinforce my reasons for needing yoga.

  12. Yoga relieves my anxiety and calms my mind down. My brian is constantly going a mile a minute and it’s really tiring, but keeps me up at night. Yoga has taught me how to shut down for a bit. Yoga also gives me amazing confidence. I was a dancer growing up and miss the dancer body and feeling I got from movement. Yoga brings that back to me and is the best way I have found for giving me the body I desire. It’s also allowed me to connect with friends on a different level. I had been encouraging my best friend to go for years and knew she was reluctant to go alone. So for her birthday this year I paid for us to go to a drop in class and she signed up for a membership that night. I luuuuurrrrrrvvvvvveeeee it.

  13. I actually just got back from a hot yoga class. Thank you for posting this—I really needed to read something like this today : )

  14. Thank you for this! I’m definitely looking forward to some yoga tonight. Yoga has taught me patience- that when something gets hard, just keep breathing and I’ll eventually come through. I agree that it definitely helps during labor- I was able to just breathe through the whole ordeal, and I credit my prenatal yoga practice for enabling that mindset :)

  15. Just a heads up on the hot dog thing. Make sure you cook the hot dogs before you feed them to Caro, especially because she’s a small dog. We made the mistake of giving our little lhasa apso raw hot dog and it nearly killed her. Their wee stomachs can’t take it.

  16. I’m on month 4 of an “all Bikram, all the time” kick (4-6 times a week). For me, I think the biggest lesson learned is summed up by this quote-

    The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
    -Marcel Proust

    What I mean is it’s not about chasing the better pose or the better body or anything lacking, but in appreciating and experiencing what IS here now– today’s pose, today’s body, just everything in this moment.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Hi, Gina.
    I wanted to let you know that we did something similar to what your Nana (and poster above) suggested. We got a thin, 3 foot dowel rod from the local home improvement store. We squished a treat onto one end. While holding the dowel in one hand, leash in the other, we held the treat in front of him just out of his reach and walked down the driveway. We gave him the treat at the end and then walked him back up and gave him the treat. We started with once a day then increased the number of times/distance based on how well he did. He just had to go longer and longer until he got the treat. This worked great, but we had to stop taking him with us on walks because of strays and dogs that were not kept inside or in a fence. Frustrating! So, he forgot how to do it. He stays inside, so we just play/run around in our back yard and house for his exercise. We took him in as a stray puppy, so he had some challenges too.

  18. Thank you for this post! I’ve recently discovered yoga, and am working it into my weekly routine. Part of my hesitation before was that it didn’t “count” as a real workout. Now I know that is not the case at all. I really feel it working my abs and other parts of my body, and my flexibility is already improving. It makes me feel good that I am trying something new that I thought I would be just awful at. My goal this week is to do yoga twice.

  19. I loved this post. I have been thinking about taking a yoga class for ages, but somehow end up backing out, because it’s not ‘my thing’. I think I’m gonna give it a go now. :)

  20. I am obsessed with yoga! Since practicing regularly (2-3 times a week) for the past 7 months, I’ve noticed a major change in not only my body, but my attitude as well. Being in the present is something that I’ve struggled with (huge planner and “what’s next”), and yoga has taught me to live in the moment and appreciate each breath. Turning to yoga during a huge life change (moving across the country and getting married within 2 months) seriously helped me cope beyond my imagination. I <3 yoga!

  21. I’m mad. ;)

    50 is a heat wave for us right now! LOL

    I love yoga too! It’s taught me so much about what my body needs AND what it’s capable of!

    • Jen in MN says:

      I’m mad, too (-;

      I’m in Minnesota, and we haven’t seen 50 degrees in many months. BOO, winter!!

      Ahem. That aside, I am a huge fan of yoga. I only discovered it after becoming a mama, and the mental benefits have been some of the biggest for me. I find when I keep trying to breathe and focus, it eventually calms and slows my mind. It lessens my anxiety.

      And the feeling afterwards is just about the best in the world (-:

  22. When my pup was in training classes the instructor had us use a wooden spoon with peanut butter on the end to help him along while walking. It’s much easier since you don’t have to bend down to keep giving them hot dogs or cheese.

    As for yoga, I don’t practice and I really should. There are a couple of videos I have done and liked so I need to add them back into my workout rotation.

  23. Reading this post makes me so happy! I’m in the middle of yoga teacher training, and I absolutely love to hear how much yoga has changed people because it has changed, and continues to change, me.

    I started practicing in college when I was battling an eating disorder and my therapist recommended yoga. I thought it wasn’t “intense” enough of a workout, but loved it from my first class and quickly realized the mental benefits above all else. I’m a perfectionist and a planner and yoga allows me to escape that mental chatter and just be in the present. It makes me feel strong and capable and honestly makes me a better person! Also, it’s the best thing my abs have seen .. ever!

  24. I love these lessons learned! They’re all so true. I try to make yoga a part of my day, every day, whether it’s just holding a few different poses or a 90 minute podcast. Love it. Life changing, really.

  25. Rhiannon says:

    I so wish there was a yoga studio or gym that offered even a few classes nearby where I live (middle of no-where). I’m worried about trying the DVD route on my own before I know the correct form on some of the poses. I am a constant worrier who always needs a plan too, so I know exactly what you mean!

  26. Maria @ Maria Makes Muffins says:

    I love yoga and practiced several times per week while pregnant. I have not made it back into the studio post-partum, but have practiced a few times in the last 6 months. I struggle with simply fitting in my workouts with two little kids running around and usually opt for higher intensity workouts (weight lifting, Zumba and Zcut) when I do have the time. I need to find more time for my mat!

  27. Thanks for the yoga reminder!! I’ve been saying it for months and promised I would go in the new year, but have yet to go to power yoga. I tried Body Flow, which I know is not true yoga, but it was suggested to me just to see how I would like it. Honestly, I wasn’t a fan. Hopefully a friend and I can set up a girls date to go to my first REAL session. I know my mind will thank me…and my tight hamstrings. ;)

    These popped up in my G-reader today: http://paleomg.com/nikkis-macadamia-nut-banana-bread-squares/ Have you seen them yet? I think they would make a great snack to have on hand all week long. :) Enjoy your Tuesday!

  28. I just rescued a 6 month old puppy and though he is pretty good on the leash already- he is going to get at least 20 lbs bigger and that little pull will become a big pull! Sometime to try, that has been working for us- You are going to play a game of red light, green light while working on loose leash training (with the intention that the leash will always have a bit of slack during your walks- because them walking right by your side all the time isn’t really fun for them! ) First.. play some ball or tug of war to tire the pup out first. Then set an intention to make a walk around the block (every walk should be pretty small here in the beginning just think of every one of them as training until they really get the hang of it.. at which point you can increase the length of the walk as they improve) Have some super tasty treats ready! As you start walking and the pup pulls to the end of the leash- stop (Red light!). Get her attention with the tasty treat and make her walk back to you (this is where I have my pup sit because I don’t want him to be overly excited when I praise him and learn bad manners) From here you start walking again- (green light!) and each time they pull repeat- this is why you start with super short walks! This has been working really well!!

  29. great post.
    I’ve learned from running that I can push myself more than I realize, I just need to get passed the voice that tells me that I can’t.

  30. When Andy was a puppy he wouldn’t go on walks either. He got scared and cried. My parents read about co-leashing and put him in his harness that also clips to his big sister Bailey’s harness. Then he walked side by side next to her and wasnt scared.

  31. Yoga has taught be to be patient with myself and that practice really does make perfect!

  32. Yoga is always the first thing I give up when I’m running short on workout opportunities. And like you, every time I go back to it, I realize how much I missed it and how important it is.

  33. I love this! I do yoga and hot yoga and it’s such a good MENTAL and EMOTIONAL workout. It takes a lot of practice to be able to “turn off” your thoughts and focus only on yourself. It’s also hard to forget about others. My first few classes, I kept comparing myself to everyone else. Who knows how long they’ve been going to classes? Obviously I wasn’t going to be a pro right away. It’s a great physical workout too- talk about strength! It’s amazing how hard it is to hold your body weight in low cobra for even just a few seconds.

  34. This was such a timely post for me- I’ve been having terrible anxiety lately and definitely needed the reminder that I don’t need to worry about everything. Yoga can translate into so many aspects of life, if we let it!

  35. I had the same idea that yoga wasn’t “real” exercise and that it would be soooo boring but once I started going to a class at my gym even once a week I started really looking forward to that time of relaxation and stretching but also building strength. There are a number of time’s I’ve been really sore the next day (but in a good way) from some shockingly difficult poses.

  36. Love that post! I started yoga only a few weeks ago and i definitely love it! Now i have a power yoga lesson every tuesday night and it’s a wonderful way to unwind from your day, i feel totally relaxed and so happy after my lesson! Of course loads of people tell me that it’s not a “real workout” but i guess of they say that it’s just because they never tried yoga before ;)

  37. All is well. This is the single phase that crystallizes yoga for me – a yoga teacher once said it at the end of class when I was having a particularly bad day, and it stuck with me.

    Every time we’re asked to set an intention at the beginning of our practice, I always say, “this is for me.” The time I spend on my mat is time to focus totally on myself, to recenter, stretch, strengthen, and de-stress. I notice a huge difference in my general outlook on life when I practice on a regular basis – and muscles I never knew I had!

  38. My teacher Lori says “perfection is suffering” and “live the life you were given, not the life you think you deserved”. Both always touch and inspire me!

  39. I love this post, Gina. I really identify with all of those lessons, both in life and in yoga. Thank you for summarizing them and sharing – what great reminders.

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