Why My Mat Is My Refuge

Written by Hope Zvara

My yoga 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 actually be able 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 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). And the tears 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. And I believe that what makes yoga so unique is that at the end of the day if you are not ready to step onto the mat than the change will not happen. I have not only seen this in myself but students over the last, 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 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 enough my journey was the opposite. I for much of my life felt lesser, that I was the one always lacking, or missing the bar, so for me, my mat became a constant reminder that I am great today just as I am and even during my stages of recovery. I began to stop seeing myself as “messing up” day after day but rather thanking life and God for the opportunity to be aware of what I need to learn and how it is that I can change.

I post a Facebook quote of the day, usually something from my heart and 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. 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? What am I doing to make a change? Are you tired in the morning, well than stop going to bed at 12am, sick of all the mess, well than 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.

If you pray and ask for guidance, well 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. 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 mat we see ourselves as we truly are, raw and willing to do the work necessary to move forward or make change, and even if we are not ready at least now we are aware and it becomes our choice what to do with that awareness.

The sweetness in me bows to the sweetness in your (Namaste)...

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