Lessons From My Yoga Mat


YogaWhen creating or doing something new, we open ourselves up. We open ourselves up for comment, accolades, good strokes and well wishes. We open ourselves up to new connections and a richer community.

Earlier this year I challenged  myself to complete 28 yoga classes in 28 days  …  all types of yoga, including Bikram, the 90-minute hot-you-will-never-make-it-out-alive-bootcamp-yoga. I am overweight, 47 years old and out of shape. This was hard work.

I am blessed for I had lots of folks in my corner cheering me on. They told me how proud of me they were and how much they respected what I was doing. I try to always have lots of good folks on my side who love me no matter what, even when I smell like a middle school locker room after a class.

Six months later I still feel really vulnerable every time I walk into a yoga class. Many times, while not the oldest, I am one of the largest and often I am the only brown face in the room. The minute I walk in the door, my brain begins to whisper horrible things:

What are you doing?

You are too old for this.

You look stupid trying to do some of these poses.

You should sit down.

EVERYONE is looking at you.

I go to yoga anyway.

Why do I intentionally bring this anxiety into my life? Because I get to lean into discomfort and I get to feel resilient. There are great lessons for me in both those activities.

This is good medicine. The healing kind that makes me feel strong spiritually.

As a society we like to run away from discomfort. We don’t like being the only anything. It’s natural for us to enter a room, whether its a yoga class or a networking event, and search out someone that looks like us, or sounds like us so we can relate to them. We  do this to help ease our anxiety. It’s like a social security blanket.

Yet, I will argue this: it’s good for us to push a bit and lean into discomfort. I am not talking about living in a place of high anxiety every day but, rather, to step into a space that is new and unfamiliar. This discomfort is a gift and one that very few people or organizations actively seek. This discomfort should push your boundaries so that you feel tired, but it should never hurt. Like when you speak your truth and  your voice is loud and clear and just a bit shaky.

Discomfort is medicine.

Life is not easy, nor is it fair. To thrive we have to be resilient. Throw me an obstacle and I will grow stronger. When I fall down I never stay there. As a woman leader this one skill has served me well. No one ever said life would be easy and obstacle free.

Human beings have enormous amounts of resilience. We just don’t think we do. Somewhere along the way we began to believe the story that other people got all the good stuff. Other people got the fierceness, the self-confidence, the courage, the moxie. We just got what was left. It is other people who create, other people who shine.

But we all have strength and passion in the face of adversity. Every one of us. We all have strong minds and spirits that can bounce back. We can have faith in powers that are beyond our understanding and mightier than a mustard seed.

Resilience is medicine.

My yoga mat has taught me great lessons about my ability to master myself. There is nothing from which I can’t recover or through which I cannot work.



Image credit: SyncHealth