Friday, February 18, 2011

Yoga sans mat

For you non-yogi's out there, I know some of you feel yoga is just a form of exercise. You have no clue why there is an almost cult-like following. To you, it is a toss up between going to a yoga class or a spinning class or a kickboxing class. You let the teacher's wisdom just bounce off you, and you get bored when poses are held too long. I know, I was there. 

But at some point, a change happens. You start to see how doing something on your mat can translate to your real life. How the true lessons in a yoga class are things like compassion, honesty, acceptance and non-judgementalism (totally a word). You practice on yourself in class, then you take it out into the world. 

Yesterday was one of those days I practice yoga for. I had been working all day on the computer and couldn't wait for Raina's 6p class to stretch out my severely compacted body. It was the only thing keeping me going. Around 3:30 my aunt called needing me to take her to go pick up a prescription at Walmart after work. She had just gotten released from rehab after a heart attack, can no longer drive, and lives alone. Horrible as it is, my first instinct was to say no since I knew I couldn't both take her and make it to yoga. I was trying to think of how I was going to turn her down, when I realized this was a better opportunity to practice yoga than going to class. Sure, I wouldn't get a physical practice, but how often do you get to help people who truly need you? 

So I worked on coming to terms with missing my class in exchange for helping my aunt. I thought about what it must be like for someone as severely independent as she was to be at the mercy of others for something as simple as getting to the store. What it must feel like for the highlight of your week to be getting out of the house to go grocery shopping. Slowly, the frustration I felt about missing class began to subside and began being replaced by an intense gratitude that I have the ability to go where ever I please, whenever I want to. 

Needless to say, when I took her I was at peace with the decision. Even the 4 hour wait for the prescription didn't phase me when I saw the excitement in my aunt's eyes that she would get to shop for that long. 

Removing yoga from the picture, I still would have chosen to take my aunt. But I would have resented it. I would have been snappy and huffed and puffed at the waiting time. But because of constantly practicing compassion and acceptance on myself, I was able to transfer those lessons to the real world when it was truly needed. And that is true yoga.


  1. Beautiful discovery. Yoga, translated as union, does go beyond the mat. The practice on the mat makes you more aware of who you are and how to live off the mat. Peace~

  2. Thank you, Valerie! I am constantly challenged to remember my yoga when out in the "real world". The good news is, I am finding the more I practice the quicker I remember to jump to those lessons instead of just reacting. What an amazing journey this is!