As I’ve mentioned, recently I’ve been craving being on my yoga mat and have decreased my running mileage a bit before I get ready to start my fall marathon training. Instead of forcing a running related post I figured I’d go with what I’m feeling and talk yoga a bit with another “Thoughts From My Yoga Mat” post.
(*You can read the first Thoughts From My Yoga Mat post HERE.)
I remember the first day of my yoga teacher training about a year and a half ago we went around in a circle introducing ourselves, talking a bit about our experience with yoga and what we were hoping to get out of this training.
At the time I had done yoga on and off for a number of years, generally when I belonged to a gym that offered it. Having been a gymnast and then a diver many of the poses came naturally to me and I found it to be a good way to stretch and strengthen my muscles.
As we went around the room many of my fellow yoga teacher trainees talked about how they’ve discovered and embraced the yoga practice on their mat, but were struggling to take it off the mat into their day to day living.
Ummm…what?!? They were here because they wanted to do yoga not at the yoga studio??
It took me a bit to understand they didn’t actually mean they wanted to do tree pose at the grocery store, but rather they wanted to take the sense of calmness, focus and being present that they found while practicing the physical poses of yoga on their mat with them into their everyday life.
When it came to my turn I sheepishly admitted that I too would love to learn to take this wonderful sense of being present and quieting my mind off my yoga mat…but maybe I should start with finding it ON my mat first…
For me yoga had always been a physical practice. Some nice stretching and strength work to compliment my running. It was easy enough to do while making a mental grocery list or checking out what a fun color the girl next to me’s top was…
Clearly I was missing the point.
It took awhile, but I’ve gotten to the point in my physical yoga practice where I am completely present on my own mat. My thoughts are turned inward and focused on what I am doing in that pose in that moment.
But I understand why all these ladies in my yoga teacher training wanted to bottle up this feeling, this calmness and presence of mind and take it with them off their mat.
And that my friends is the real practice of yoga.
It’s the practice I feel most drawn to working on now.
It’s the practice I struggle with the most.
As I said, the physical poses come very naturally to me and I think that’s why I struggled so much finding that focus ON my mat, because I didn’t really need to focus to do the poses…I could just do them.
Now that I’ve been able to quiet my mind on my mat I’m working to take it with me off my mat and into my everyday living.
I admit, I’m FAR from being able to do this. I tend to be one who gets stressed and agitated very easily (my mother and husband will both attest to this).
The other day I left the yoga studio all relaxed and happy on this beautiful high of yogic presense…
…then some jerk cut me off, I put my car horn to good use (I mean that’s what it’s there for, right?!) and yelled some choice words at my new friend in the shiny black Mercedes.
Yogi high gone.
So, it’s a work in progress. So far I’ve I’m managed to take the calm mind from my yoga mat, to the parking lot and into my car. I usually lose it somewhere on my drive home.
I guess that’s why they always say yoga is a lifelong practice!