Let me first say that to understand the yoga lessons I’ve learned, you don’t need to practice yoga. You just need to practice life.
“That’s exactly how it is in yoga. The places where you have the most resistance are actually the places that are going to be the areas of the greatest liberation.” – Rodney Yee
The foundation of this post rests on a more painful time in my life, because that’s where my mat unfolded. Yoga became a part of my life without my realizing it; all I knew at the time was that it made me feel connected to peace in a way that nothing else did.
When my brother passed in 2011, yoga became a subtle yet sincerely healing presence in my life. What I’ve learned since that time is something worth writing about and something worth living for.
Yoga is my lifeline to love in all ways: I can more honestly love myself. I can more fully love others. I can more swiftly enter a serene place within myself. I can see the light again. It’s as if yoga found me with an aching heart, and I subsequently found myself. And so I gently allowed myself to be broken open, and thus the door to a whole new world opened up.
I am sure that the yoga lessons shared below have been experienced by many others, and that’s because yoga can be synonymous with love for so many. For me, these yoga lessons faced me in a direction of self-discovery and called me to do my part in making the world, within and around, a brighter place. For this reason alone, I can honestly say that yoga saved my life–it prompted me to come alive again.
Cheers to everyone who rolls out their mat, whether they feel like it that day or not. Cheers to those who take their yoga practice off the mat and into their daily lives. Cheers to you who have even an ounce of interest in beginning your own yoga practice, whatever that looks like for you.
Cheers to you who do not practice yoga, but practice life with any of the following lessons in mind.
11 Yoga Lessons That Double as Life Lessons
1. This is a practice.
Anything worth doing takes time and dedication. Yoga is called a “practice” for a reason. Most of us cannot just flip upside down into a full and enlightened headstand, and many may never even communicate with that physical ability. It’s all well.
My yoga practice has kept me grounded and reminds me every day that life is a practice. We cannot get everything done in one day, and that’s what makes this a beautiful ride.
2. Have persistence.
Though persistence is tied to practice, it has its own meaning for me. To continue with anything that you start is a miracle in this world. With so many distractions pulling you from your focus, you must continually and consciously choose to follow your heart.
Yoga constantly brings me back to a quiet place inside where I can remember what is truly important to me. It keeps me calm and focused amid chaos.
3. Be patient.
One of the greatest yoga lessons I’ve learned is the art of being patient. Patience is a divine quality that we must return to in every awakened moment. Mastering asana (physical yoga poses) takes patience. Meditation requires patience. Stillness, goal setting, and relationships need patience.
4. Anything is possible.
If you devote enough energy, practice, persistence, and patience, anything is possible. The only limits are the limits we set upon ourselves.
For instance, I never thought I could be flexible, and so that was a limit I placed upon myself. Releasing that limit, however, through my yoga practice, allowed me to embrace a different vision for myself. I could be flexible, it turned out.
The truth is that we can do whatever we deeply want to do.
5. Show respect.
Learn to listen to your body and honor what it’s asking for. Your body is a beautiful means of communication in this world, and learning self-love and self-respect allows love and life to flow through you more gracefully.
6. Practice acceptance.
Some days we will feel on top of the world, full of energy and heart. Other days we will feel disheartened and groggy. The lesson is to focus on what you can do versus what you cannot do, and to accept the ups and the downs, knowing that this too shall pass.
7. Slow down (sometimes).
There are four seasons in the natural world. There is a time for activity and a time for calm. Slowing down helps us to see and feel and experience and truly live in the present moment that’s right in front of us, to enjoy the season of our life.
On both a physical and mental level, we can learn to identify inner chaos and slow down our pace before overwhelm gets to us.
Slowing down does not mean downplaying your excitement for life. It just means allowing yourself to be quiet–even for 5 minutes–to refresh your energy when it needs refreshing. Again, listen to your body and to your heart. Do what is right for you.
8. Express gratitude.
When we remember to slow down, we remember to enjoy the little things in life and we can be grateful for what is right in front of us (like our toes). Beauty is everywhere, and it is our task to open our eyes to it.
9. Have faith.
I believe in happiness. I believe in the philosophy of yoga–of unity, of love. Yoga reminds me to keep my faith in the universe, in the unknown, in the incomprehensible, and in the miracle that’s waiting in any given moment.
If I listen with my heart and become keenly aware of the subtleties, I can know peace. I just need to trust life a little bit.
10. Trust the process.
Whenever things don’t go my way, I repeat this affirmation: “I trust Life.” It’s a recognition that life is not against me; life is happening around me, for the highest good of all. We must let it work for us.
11. You are enough.
Regardless of your goals and lists and mistakes and failures: You are enough. I am enough. Regardless of the visions you have held for yourself or hold for yourself: You are enough. Whatever your past looks like, you are enough. Whatever improvements you must make for the future, you are enough.
However difficult it is to step onto your mat or to step into your day, you will always be enough as you are. Believe this, and you are on the path of love.
- Has yoga changed your life for the better?
- What yoga lessons might you add to this list?
- What life lessons can you add to this list?
Please share your thoughts, insights, lessons, and experiences with me in the comments.
Share these yoga lessons with someone who would appreciate them, whether they practice yoga or not.
Whatever makes your soul smile again–do that.