The Invaluable Lesson Yoga Teacher Training Taught Me About Life Off The Mat

Photo by @onadulting

Before I truly entered the world of yoga, I thought that it was just another workout. I would try to squeeze a yoga class into my weekly workout schedule in between boot camp classes and morning runs. As a lifelong runner and two-time marathoner, I never saw yoga as anything more than a type of workout—and a simple one at that.

About a year ago, I began to delve deeper into my practice, choosing to practice a yoga sequence in my bedroom over going to a HIIT class. It wasn’t until I began experiencing the mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of yoga that I realized it is so much more than a couple of stretches on your off day. But even as I became more immersed in my daily yoga practice, I still didn’t understand the commitment to well-rounded self-care that’s embedded deep in its history.

The problem with self-care.

Self-care gets a bad reputation. Many of us associate it with face mask selfies and tubs sprinkled with rose petals, and it’s easy in our social-media-obsessed world to think that yoga just happens in posh studios with a cult following. But when you strip it down, yoga is truly a way of living—and a wholesome one at that.

Even after practicing intensely for over a year, I still didn’t know as much about the history of yoga as I wanted to, but I had reached a point in my practice where the physical movements weren’t enough and I was aching to learn more. The words my yoga teachers spoke and the way they held themselves both inside and outside of class was a coveted, secret language I was deeply curious to learn more about. So, when I got the opportunity to take mindbodygreen's 100-hour virtual yoga training, I jumped at the chance.

How training deepened my practice.

Before I dipped my toes in the world of training, I reflected on the questions that I wanted to understand more deeply. Most of them centered on the parts of yoga that happened outside of the physical movement, such as: How can you use savasana productively (and not just sleep post-class)? What does fire-breathing actually do (or does it just make you feel like the weird girl in the corner of the room)?

Interestingly enough, during my training I learned that these questions only broke the surface. Before, I only viewed yoga as the moments inside of my practice. While, yes, the movements and the mindset had longer effects on the rest of my day, I didn’t consciously think about it as more than that. But after my training I realized that the best yogis really view their entire practice as a lifestyle.

Yoga is a practice that begins in the morning with a cup of warm water and lemon. It’s found in other morning rituals like meditation and breathwork. It’s about being a kind, patient person—not just to others but to yourself as well.

Being a yogi isn’t about the way that you bend your body or which studio you belong to. It isn’t about how many times you get your practice in per week. It’s how you view your life and treat your body. It’s how you think about your environment, and how often you give yourself permission to focus on you. So "doing yoga" doesn’t end after you get off the mat. It’s actually just the beginning.

Want to learn more about the benefits of yoga? Here's how they double when you take your practice off the mat.

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