During my first few weeks of yoga classes in Alpharetta, I learned three lessons superficial lessons that are actually quite deep. Make your guyan mudra and soak up this wisdom.
Lotion is not your friend. I’m a lotion fiend. I noticed that I had dry skin in high school. Ever since then, after every shower, I’d slather myself in some creamy “moisturizing,” “hydrating” substance. The morning of my first warm yoga class, I completed my morning routine, showed up, unrolled my mat, and commenced to slide around uncontrollably. The combination of sweat and lotion could’ve caused my death! (Seriously, my hands slid forward during downward-facing dog and I could’ve cracked my skull.)
This made me think: why am I so reliant on lotion? Because my skin in dry. Why is my skin dry? Likely because I’m chronically dehydrated. Or my body wash strips away my skin’s natural moisture. Or I have hard water, which could explain my hair’s dryness, too. All of those are long-term problems that need to be addressed, not covered up with lotion.
Yogini Wisdom: Don’t cover up a problem. Address it at its root.
The body is best when treated as a unit. I used to hit the gym every morning with my husband. My goal: “Get Sexy.” I equated that with killer abs, toned thighs, a perky toosh, sculpted arms and shoulders. I targeted these areas using weights and machines.
Then I began training for a half marathon. In addition to running four days a week, I focused my strength training on my calves, thighs, and butt.
I should be in “good shape,” right? Yet during my first yoga classes I realized that I was as stiff as a board. I’d lost my sense of balance. I had muscles but I didn’t know how to place my weight properly or how to make the muscles work together efficiently. Worst of all, I’d get so easily frustrated with myself that I’d want to push harder than I should (which could lead to injury) or I’d lack confidence to take a calculated risk (which would stunt my personal development).
After only three weeks of consistent classes, I’m noticing that my movements are more fluid. I’m also even stronger than I thought that I was. It isn’t that I’ve undergone a miraculous transformation. It’s that yoga treats the body as a unit, unlike machines and weights that tend to target a specific area.
When the body’s muscles–major and minor–remember how to work together with all the little ligaments and tendons, we’re capable of accomplishing so much more than when we just try to beef up one area. Since I began yoga, I’ve gone longer without running injuries and I recover faster from my long runs and strenuous workouts. I’m no longer fatiguing the big muscles but using my body more efficiently overall.
Yogini Wisdom: A healthy body can’t be defined by looking at individual parts (flat abs, for example). Only a complete body and mind approach can bring us to total health!
Bravery can’t hide. I’ve never been able to sit in the back of a class, even in math where I really kinda suck. Yoga is no different. Every class, I roll out my mat in the row closest to the instructor. As a beginner, I want to see and hear every detail clearly. That means that I can’t hide behind other students. That also means that, if I mess up, everyone will see it. I had to determine for myself that learning was more important than my fear of humiliation.
Secondly, I’ve learned that integrity is more important than looking flexible and strong. It takes a certain type of bravery to fight my own ego, especially when everyone else in class can see me: I want to look more bendy and muscle-y even when it means breathing shallowly or straining. But I’m learning to honor my body’s strengths and patiently address my weaknesses without being preoccupied about what others think.
Yogini Wisdom: Integrity takes bravery.
What are a few things that you’ve learned during your yoga practice?