Yoga off the Mat

Once upon a time, not too long ago, I was what some may identify as a perfectionist. You know, the girl who strives for ideals set up by society, has goals of what she thinks she should be doing, and living a life that seemed to fit the mould. Like many young women, I was struggling to find myself. Constantly overwhelmed by (but not truly identifying) an inner pressure to have acceptance and approval of others. Self doubt of if I measured up to those around me. I was aimlessly going through the motions of life, but not truly enjoying or experiencing them. Then came along yoga… oh yoga, how you have changed me 🙂

It may seem cliché to say, but the truth of the matter is, how you practice on your mat is how you carry yourself out in the “real world”. The lessons you learn in class carry forward with you in life. Are you kind to yourself in your practice, or is there criticism to measure up to other students? Do you find yourself giving up on poses because they are difficult (damn you frog pose!), or do you continue with ease and breath knowing that the struggle will pass? Do you force yourself into something that you’re not ready for, or do you listen to your body and take child’s pose? Do you accept that change and poses take time, and that yoga is a constantly evolving process? Can you focus on you, your breath, and your mat? Are you present?


In my case, yoga has allowed me to look at life from a different perspective. I no longer fall into the trap of judging others, or taking people’s reactions to situations personally. I’m not concerned with impressing others or following a certain path. I’ve learned that everything will unfold in its right time, and timelines simply don’t matter. Now I’m able to take the tools that I’ve developed on my yoga mat, and enter the real world with grace, confidence, and a love for myself and others that I never dreamed could be possible. Expectations of what the future has in store for me have been let go, and it’s exciting to know that life is a process of constant unfolding change – we can’t predict the future, so why not live in the present?

Yoga has taught me that you can do anything that seems impossible (hello headstand!), and that if you listen to your gut and heart then you can’t go wrong. As my yoga practice continues to grow, I’m certain that the new lessons will follow. Yoga is sneaky like that… you think you know how this whole process works and then it surprises you yet again!

How have you taken yoga off the mat?

~Heather Whitman

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