Just a generation ago, devoted yogis had to travel to India or help organize the occasional visit of their master teacher. Today, yoga classes can be found virtually anywhere people can meet and throw down a mat: in yoga studios, health clubs, recreation centers, churches, schools, and parks.
One of yoga’s enduring strengths is its ability to repackage itself for the contemporary world. Although traditionalists may disagree, I think this is admirable – and also essential for its survival in an increasingly (like it or not) commercial world. Yoga’s stress-busting and anxiety-relieving properties have never been more needed then they are today.
While most of us are aware of the physical benefits of yoga postures and training, yoga entails much more. It is also about living in the moment as best you can. A yoga practice teaches many life lessons. Here are 10 from yoga expert and Executive Director for the Academy of Holistic Fitness Linda-Christy Weiler.
Life Lesson #1
Establish a solid foundation
The base of support in yoga postures refer to the body parts that are receiving your body’s weight and transferring this weight onto the earth to create a sound foundation.
Standing straddle forward fold pose (with rotation)
Life Lesson #2
Cultivate a support system
The backside of the body represents the realm of your psychological support system as well as your organic structural support system. “Awareness in the body’s back side feels like having eyes on the back of your head.”
Inclined plane pose
Life Lesson #3
Get your priorities right
Knowing what is most important in terms of placement in each pose will make the pose safer and more beneficial for the body.
Preparing proper leg placement for Warrior pose
Life Lesson #4
Be in the moment
Sensory awareness and mindfulness are vehicles that yoga postures use for transformation and healing. “As long as you are living life as an embodied human, the life of your body is your life.”
King Dancer pose
Life Lesson #5
Meet and greet every challenge
People give up too quickly. Learn to stick with something until the superficial issues drop away and the deeper issues surface. Only then can true problems be identified and essential issues resolved. “Get past the wildness of the mind and tap into the steady and calm nature of your spiritual self.”
Single leg seated straddle pose (with fold and rotation)
Life Lesson #6
Learn tolerance and acceptance
We learn to tolerate and accept poses we don’t like and that may cause discomfort, uncertainty or humility. We understand they have value. We learn to tolerate and accept what we cannot change and instead consider changing our perspective. “Initiate mental equanimity.”
Seated forward fold pose
Life Lesson #7
There is nothing inherently wrong with humans experiencing a full range of (noncalm) emotions. Even emotions like anger when channeled in a constructive, nonhurtful way can be energizing and empowering. Return to a relaxed presence and release noncalm emotions by deeply inhaling and exhaling to create a sense of peaceful grounding and calm.
Seated Hero pose
Life Lesson #8
Experience and accept change as a constant
By passing through the cyclical stages of a yoga pose we learn to accept the inevitability of change. “Realize that endings lead to new beginnings.”
Seated Funnel pose
Life Lesson #9
When practicing a yoga pose, detachment enriches the experience. Detachment is a psychological construct that relates to releasing tension, not trying too hard and not being aggressive, impulsive or competitive. Detachment allows you to let the process unfold naturally and accept and approve of how the body performs today.
Tree pose with prayer hands
Life Lesson #10
Live your mission
Practicing yoga enhances your awareness and is a way to help you gain wisdom and appropriate decision making regarding your body, health, behaviors, relationships and your life’s mission. “Make every pose a good pose. Make every day a good day.”
Seated spinal twist
Learn more about how you can incorporate Life Lessons into your yoga class, plus many more new ideas for today’s yoga classes from Linda-Christy Weiler.