Lessons from the Mat

Mar 30, 2011

I truly believe that our yoga practice is a reflection of our life. How we are on the mat, the way we approach poses and pole moves, how we react to our “performance” that day, etc. is a light shining intou our hearts, souls and minds to teach us more about ourselves in the real world.

This past weekend was the Kicking Cancer Carnival, a fundraiser to benefit one of our Flirts battling cancer. I have never organized a fundraiser or such a detailed event before. Most of the aspects were new to me and as the event drew near I began to get nervous about what the results would be. Would anyone come? Would we raise enough money? Would our guests enjoy themselves? And on and on into some long nights with not much sleep.

The week before the event I was teaching this concept of our practice as a reflection of our life to some of my classes. And, duh!, I decided to practice what I was teaching.

When it is time for me to practice yoga or pole, I come with no expectations except to do the best I can that day. I have done so much yoga and so many classes for so many years that I have learned you never know what will happen during your practice. Some days I can balance on one foot or two hands like it was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. And other days I’m falling down and can’t balance even if I try using something for support. Some days my mind is focused and I can’t believe how quickly time went by and other days my mind is so busy racing I don’t even notice that my body is doing some delicious stretch that I would really enjoy if I paid attention. I know that the best I can do is show up each day for my practice and allow it to unfold as it will.

I decided to take this approach to the Kicking Cancer Carnival. I simply showed up as present as I could be on a busy, hectic day with lots of people coming and going and wanting my attention. At that point all of the details were planned and taken care of as best as they could be. I made no decisions about how much money we would raise, just knowing that any amount would make a difference in Jill’s life.

So when Saturday arrived I was not nervous. I was excited and happy. It was a joy to see so many loving people come out to support Jill and enjoy our offerings. My release of all expectations meant that everyone who showed up and every penny raised a gift and a blessing to be celebrated rather than a worrisome “Is it enough?” And through that release it was enough. We successfully raised enough money to replace all of Jill’s lost income plus have a little left over for her to take a small trip when she is no longer housebound!

One great aspect of your practice as a reflection of your life is that you can notice what habits you have on your mat that really work. Concentration, patience, sincere efforts, self-compassion. And you can discover ones that don’t work. Laziness, denial, not really trying, ignoring instructions. Whatever both your positive habits and those that don’t serve you are, you can bring that awareness out into your life and allow them to bloom or choose to change them into something that works better for your life.

The next time you are in class, really start to pay attention to both your approach and your reactions to your practice and bring that awareness out into your life beyond your mat.

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