4 Ways to Take Yoga Off the Mat & Into Your Heart

Written by Jo Beth Richards

All of us reading this article have probably practiced yoga, right? We have moved through practice with our bodies, minds, and hearts. We have felt the stretch, the sweat, and the strength. The asanas of this physical yoga practice are beautiful and help us to loosen our bodies, clear our minds, and become healthier. But, are we leaving our yoga on our mat, or are we really practicing? Sure, we can walk into the studio, do the chant, practice, and “Namaste” at the end, but is that it?

Yoga is more than physical; here are some ways we all can begin to take our yoga off our mats and into our lives…

1. Patience: “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Is patience a part of your life, or are you constantly getting frustrated with traffic, your co-workers, or your friends, because they aren’t moving on “your schedule?” Learning to be patient is an important part of self evolution, and is not only beneficial for keeping your own mind calm and collected but helps you to interact with others in a more positive way. True patience comes with the knowledge and trust that beauty takes time.

2. Kindness: “A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.” - Joseph Joubert

No matter where we go in our lives, we will eventually meet up with people who are unkind to us. It’s gonna happen. And, it is always easier to be snippy right back at the person who was mean to you; it is much harder to show them kindness. But meanness is like a never-ending circle: if you are mean to that person who was unkind to you, all you are doing is spreading more hate. But, if you are kind to that person, it stops that hate in its tracks. Choose kindness, especially when it’s difficult, and your heart will thank you.

3. Tolerance: “Always try to maintain complete tolerance and always make an effort to give people more than they expect.” - Scott Hamilton

There will always be those who disagree with you, and there will always be those who are doing the complete opposite of what you are doing. For those people, we must try to find our tolerance. Tolerance is hard, especially when you fervently believe the complete opposite from someone else. But we will never be granted tolerance if we don’t first show it to others. So, next time you find yourself wanting to preach or scold someone for their beliefs, take a moment and decide to act with tolerance. Perhaps they will show you the same.

4. It’s Practice: “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.” - Mahatma Gandhi

One thing I think we sometimes forget is that we are not “mastering” yoga. More handstands, more coconut milk, and less cuss words won’t make you the master. This yoga practice is just that… a practice. What a blessing! We don’t have to worry ourselves silly by our mistakes; we don’t have to run as fast as we can hoping to become the master. All we need to do is to act in each moment with a bit more patience, a little more kindness, and some more tolerance. Keeping in mind that no one is perfect, learning from our own mistakes, and letting our yoga seep off of our mats and into our hearts.

Yoga is more than the movement of your body; yoga is a journey that takes its path through your entire life if you let it…

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