Life Lessons from Yoga: #9

Listen to your body.

Part of my August series on life philosophies learned from yoga.

In yoga we want to push ourselves every time we show up but we never want to do it to the point of pain.  There are a lot of poses you might see other people doing that look easy enough.  But if you try to twist right in to them, you risk damaging your body.  The people that are able to get in to those poses have probably been doing them for years, trying to perfect it day after day.  Chances are the first time they tried it, it wasn’t as easy as they’re making it look now.

As I talked about before, yoga requires a combination of strength, flexibility, and balance of both the body and mind.  Sometimes the poses, or asanas, can be deceiving in that the things that look like they require flexibility actually require balance.  Or those that look like they require strength of the body actually require strength of the mind.  It takes a long time to summon what exactly the body needs to do to accommodate these poses.

If you are taking your first yoga class, the instructor should tell you not to do anything that hurts.  Yes, sometimes we tremble trying to hold a pose ten seconds longer than is comfortable.  Sometimes we approach our edge and these are the ways that we grow mentally tenacious and strengthen whichever muscle we’re working, but that is different from overt pain.

It is like this in life too.  There are so many times we don’t listen to our body, when we try to prove to ourselves or to the world how hardcore we are and we ignore our body’s message that we are pushing too far before we were ready.

How may times have you ignored the crawly feeling a particular person gives you only to be hurt or disappointed by them later?  How often have you said yes to something, even knowing you were biting off more than you could chew?  How many times have you tried to prove how strong you were by staying up late to get everything done and look like a superstar only to find yourself absolutely exhausted the next day or completely burned out?  How many times have you tolerated a situation or lifestyle that gave you anxiety and ignored the warning signals when the life you want has started to veer off its tracks?

Yoga has taught me that our body sends us messages and we shouldn’t ignore them.  Sometimes getting everything right takes years of interpreting just how to coordinate strength, flexibility and balance of body and mind to get everything how we want it.



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