Monday, February 28, 2011

As on the mat, as in life...

If you practice yoga, I'm sure you have heard someone, maybe a teacher, talk about how what you do on the mat relates to what you do in life. The idea behind it being that what happens on the mat on which you practice is simply a metaphor for your life- how you show up for yourself and others, how you breathe and deal with things when they become difficult, how you treat yourself and others, what your thought patterns are like, etc. (For those of you non-yogi's, maybe you have heard the comparable phrase, "how you do one thing is how you do everything.") I have always understood this concept on a mental level, but to be completely honest, never really thought it was A) very relevant or B) applicable to me!  Well, actually, that's not completely true..... I thought it was relevant and applied to me until I came up against an "issue" of mine, that I didn't want to or wasn't ready to move past, and then it became irrelevant and un-applicable to me. Which is the entire point of the concept. Ha. I totally could see that I could practice the concept of Ahimsa, or non violence, by not pushing too hard, not beating myself up if I couldn't do a pose, not comparing myself to others, etc, but when it came to pushing myself past certain boundaries, I froze. In the moments of not wanting to see how my yoga practice was mirroring my life, instead of accepting the concept and growing from it, I dismissed it and decided that it was pretty silly. I would stand on my mat and think to myself "the fact that I don't want to try and pike into handstand does not prove anything about my life!"

Well, after taking a few steps back and being very open with myself, I've decided that yes, yes, it does. WHY don't I want to try it? In the moment, it's usually because I just don't want to. And the underlying reason that makes me not want to do it is because I'm either scared, I don't know how to do it, I don't want to do it just because the teacher wants me to, or I just am too lazy to try. Lovely. If the reason were because it hurts me, or because I've tried and tried and it just isn't right for my body, then fine; those are acceptable reasons and I would respect myself for listening to my body. And if once in awhile, I am scared, lazy, defiant or uneducated, then that's ok too. I am human. But every time I am presented with  this challenge, I react in the same way. I am not allowing myself to grow, or even to attempt to grow. I wonder how often I do this in life?? How often do I turn my back to something because of the reasons listed above? Probably kind of often, to be honest! This isn't something I'm proud of, but I'm also not judging it either. I'm simply noticing it and consciously choosing to shift it, both on and off my mat.

I tend to do this with ab work (really not very fun for me!!!) as well, and in the past, with not wanting to hold a pose and only wanting to flow. Well, let me tell you, holding a pose is much harder and more intimate than flowing quickly through poses, never stopping to truly get in deep. With holding poses and really working your alignment, you get to see the beauty in the details, learn how to focus your mind and breathe through the sensations, and oddly enough, feel very alive. Flowing through things and not digging in is also something I have been doing over the past few years in my everyday life... And it is something that is changing in the tangible day to day as I have begun to change my practice.

There are other things that have been brought to my awareness about how I act on the mat and how it mirrors how I act in life, and I am grateful for all of these revelations; I am choosing to be completely honest with myself in service to my growth both on and off the mat. What about you?? If you practice yoga, what challenges do you find on the mat and how do you think it is showing you a challenge off of the mat? If you don't do yoga, how do you react to certain things that you might not really enjoy? I would love to hear your opinions and personal journeys if you would like to share!!

Thanks for being a part of my journey, and I am grateful to be a part of yours. As on the mat... As in life :)