You can learn a whole lot from practicing yoga. You can also learn a whole lot from teaching yoga. Some of this comes from talking to people. Some is from what people tell you in how they move. Some is from just being there, supporting each other, and seeing what happens.
You learn that we're perfectly, beautifully, wonderfully unique. You learn that we're perfectly, beautifully, wonderfully the same. There are some surprises, and many helpful reminders about what we already know. Here are some of my favorites.
1. Everybody thinks there's something wrong with them.
Sometimes it's about yoga. I'm too big! I'm too small! Too short, too tall. I'm not flexible. My hips are weird. I have a funny elbow. I can't find my abs!
Sometimes it's about the rest of life. I need to wait until I do a bunch of other things over there. Because I'm not that good right now.
Same things. Both ways, it's just an idea, and it's not true. Don't wait. Do the good stuff, do it your way in your body, and do it today. Your body is perfect, beautiful, wonderful. And you are that good right now.
2. How we do yoga is how we do everything.
So yoga is practice time for how we want to live. If you want freedom, practice freedom. If you want happy, practice happy.
3. There's a difference between going easy and going lazy.
Going easy, you're still doing the work. You don't give up, but you also don't push harder against rock walls. You keep moving all around where you feel good, and watch that territory gradually expand. Soon enough you find your way over, around, and through those walls. It feels good this way, for you, and for everyone around you.
4. Focusing on poses makes it harder to get poses.
Focusing on feeling makes it easier to get you. Once you're tuned in to yourself, poses aren't a problem.
5. You are the best person in the world at being you.
Nobody can compete with you if your focus remains here. All kinds of amazing things happen when people get to know what they've got, and get really good at working with it.
6. We're a lot the same.
We all have this amazing human body.
7. We're extremely adaptable.
What feels like suffering at first can become our new normal. We might even practice making suffering normal in our yoga. We can also adapt to happiness. We can practice feeling free and wonderful in our yoga. Happy can become our new normal, too.
8. The greatest challenges we face aren't offered up by our bodies, but by our beliefs.
What do you think about you, and what you can and can not do? What do you think about the world? The greatest opportunities are here, too. Change your beliefs and you just might change your life.
9. Our yoga reflects our worldview.
How we move mirrors how we feel about ourselves, and about the world. Maybe we believe that life is hard, and if we're going to accomplish anything really big, it has to be a struggle. Our yoga becomes a struggle, too. Or maybe we believe that the best things in life are won through peace rather than war. Our yoga becomes peaceful. This is a good thing to practice.
10. Pushing hard against challenges doesn't work.
Moving easily around them does.
11. Nobody will ever know how you feel as well as you do.
You are the world's leading expert on you. Some people practice following other people's rules in yoga. Some people practice finding their own way in yoga. The second path works better.
12. When you feel good, you become your own best health care provider.
When you feel stressed, it's harder to make good health choices. So the best goal you can have is feeling good. This one is worth talking about!
Most people walk into a yoga room because they want to feel good. But when class starts, the goal often changes. It might become burning calories, reshaping the body, or mastering a new pose.
The thing is, your body is much smarter than these goals. it doesn't need to be pushed or forced, it just needs your support. When you support your body peacefully rather than pushing against it, you feel good.
From feeling good, your body takes wonderful care of itself, and you take wonderful care of your body. This feeling-good approach also has some interesting side effects: hard things aren't hard any more (including the poses), and a good-feeling body is a good-looking body, too.
13. Everybody has the power to feel good right now.
No matter where they've been, where they are now, or where they think they might be going, everybody has this power. Something in there always feels good, and you can always find it. Breathe deep, relax, move easy.
14. We are each the single biggest variable in our own health care.
It's why the same treatment for the same disease has so many different outcomes. You are important. How you live, eat and breathe is important. What you believe about you is life-changing.
15. Movement is medicine.
We all know food is medicine. But it's hard to make the best food choices if we don't feel good in our bodies. It's hard to make the best choices if we don't believe we can profoundly shape our own lives, through simple steps we can take each day.
Luckily, we can turn this around. How we move is how we feel about ourselves. So what's our first step up the ladder to the healthy and happy train? Change how we move — from stressed and tense, to relaxed and feeling good — and keep it going, all day, every day. From here, from moving and feeling good, begins a cascade of the most profoundly life-enhancing choices we'll ever make.
16. Our bodies respond very attentively to what we do all day, every day.
Our yoga time isn't the only important time. All our time is the important time. Everything we do is extremely important, so make it good.
17. Sometimes you need to study more. Sometimes you need to live more. Learn the difference.
People often believe they're limited because they haven't studied enough. But some things don't need more study. Some of the best things just need to be experienced. Watch a snowflake falling. Jump into the ocean. Fall in love. It's not all about books. Yoga is this way, too. Just do it.
18. You don't need to do everything there is every day.
If you're following how you feel, what you do — in your poses, and the rest of your life — will probably look different each day. And some things, maybe just wait for the next life. When we're cats.
19. I haven't found anything yet that can't be done. (But it might take some patient exploration.)
It might take a ladder to get over that wall. But when people take their time and explore, they keep on finding ladders.
20. Every moment counts, so live in the moment.
Big things don't happen suddenly or by force. No matter how much it looks like that girl over there was just born doing crazy amazing poses, she wasn't. What we all do is from the lives we've lived, every day up until this one. Live each of your days happily and creatively. You'll like where that goes.
21. Don't think too much about what you're doing.
A snow leopard isn't thinking about what muscles to flex, engage, suck in or tone when moving around. We probably shouldn't be thinking about all that, either. Just move how you feel. It works better.
22. It's good to practice feeling more than thinking.
Most of us are already pretty good at thinking.
23. We shouldn't always believe what we think …
… But we should always believe what we feel.
24. You can fall in love right now. Breath deep, and let it all go. Then feel.
From feeling, you'll find that you feel good! You just fell in love with you. Now look up. You're surrounded. Love is everywhere! Keep breathing, and jump in.
25. Always carry an extra banana.
You never know when it might come in handy.
26. One more thing: I've learned it helps to start each day with some yoga.
Here's a fun sequence to get you going good.
Photo Credit: Getty Images