On The Mat And Off The Mat

I'm a fairly newcomer to yoga.  I've always had this inner dialogue in my head arguing that I would never be the type of person to be into yoga. No insult to all the yogis out there, but for a lot of us, we were brought up to think that it was just for all those crazy hippies.  Also no insult to the hippies out there, as my inner hippie seems to reveal itself more and more the older I get.

But I had originally thought that I'd only chose yoga because essentially…I'm lazy. I can't really explain how resistant I am to the exertion of vigorous exercise (unless it's dancing!).  Plus my nature is that of a turtle.  I just tend to be happier when I'm able to move slower, generally speaking.

So after trying a few yoga DVD's and a couple of group classes over the past few years - I found a studio and an instructor that kind of turned it all around for me.  You know you've found a great teacher when they get you to do things you never imagined yourself doing.  A great teacher can fire you up and help you stay motivated even when the tasks ahead of you are clearly hard.  A great teacher can help your confidence extend far beyond the classroom/studio just by virtue of the work you do when you're with them.

Still what has been most hilarious to me is that I'm still a generally out of shape person who carries her share of pudge and has little coordination or balance.  And every class I find myself sweating profusely and breathing as heavy as if I were lifting weights! (...that being the weight my own ass I suppose.) Yet somehow, I'm using my body in ways I didn't know that I could.  Every session is a time of discovery and reflection about my own abilities.  It's therapeutic physically - but a bit emotionally too…

One phrase my instructor uses often to motivate and coax us into the nutty contortions that we find our bodies in, encourages us to have integrity "on the mat, and off the mat."  What we bring to the mat when we start a class can be much the same as what we bring to our lives outside of class. Deep, right?  Well here's a few of the insights I found on the mat today that I hope I'll hold onto in my life (or at least until the end of the day)...

~ Sometimes you go for it, even when you know you might lose your balance and fall…on the mat, and off the mat.

~ …So don't fear falling down - very hard I might add…on the mat, and off the mat.

~ You are exactly where you're supposed to be, good or bad, and that's cool…on the mat, and off the mat.

~ Be patient with the process and simply commit to doing what you can, when you can. You will advance in due time…on the mat, and off the mat.

~ Finally, you will need lots of Advil…probably before you're on the mat and for damn sure once you're off the mat. Om.

Michele ThomasComment