I love yoga.
I’ve never really been a fan of exercise. I’ve dabbled in everything from grapevines and knee curls in step aerobics to push ups and wheelbarrows in Seal Team boot camp, but those forms of exercise never really did it for me. I’d find myself fully dedicated for the first three months, then annoyed and bored by the fourth.
But yoga has been a different story for me.
What I love most about yoga is that it’s equal parts exercise for your mind and your body at the exact same time. In addition to getting a great physical workout, I also get a mental workout when the instructors share words of wisdom that make me think differently about my life.
A year ago, my mind expanded when one of my teachers, Paula Millar shared this beautiful sentiment:
People are like stained-glass windows: they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.
My goodness, that’s good.
Even a year later I draw on that powerful life lesson on a regular basis. Click here to read my original post about that quote.
And apparently, yoga is the gift that keeps giving, because this week in Ellie Burke’s class, she shared a gem of an idea that almost knocked me out of my meditative mindset during one of the poses.
During a particularly challenging part of the class, Ellie shared a famous quote from accomplished yogi, Vanda Scaravelli. She said,
Do not kill the instinct of the body for the glory of the pose.
Again, with the wow factor.
Ellie went on to explain that, “Life isn’t about achieving the perfect pose, it’s about listening to your body and knowing what poses are good for you and which ones are not.” Her point was this: don’t push too hard for a particular yoga pose if your body doesn’t want to do it.
That’s when it hit me. So much of yoga isn’t about yoga it’s about life.
When it comes to making decisions about your life, when your gut instinct is to say no, don’t keep pushing yourself just to reach an idealized end-state. The pose, or in this case the goal, might not be right for you.
Damn, I should have started doing yoga a long time ago.
So much of my former life was spent ignoring my instincts in pursuit of the glory of the pose. I can think of dozens of examples when I was running full tilt on an assignment at work, working myself to the bone, and the following scenario would play out:
Someone would say: It’s so amazing what you’re doing at work Katherine. You must be so proud of yourself.
I would say: Oh yes. Indeed!
My instincts would say: Nope. Not at all. This isn’t the right career for me.
For years, I knew that there was a more meaningful career out there for me, but I was so caught up pleasing and pretending and going for the perfect pose that I ignored my gut instincts that were telling me to run the other way.
There was no doubt I was killing my instincts for the glory of the pose.
When people asked if I was proud of myself…my mouth might have said “yay” but my instincts always said, “nay.”
Until the day the “nays” overruled the “yays.”
I finally stopped pursuing goals and ambitions that weren’t right for me. I left my career in advertising and became an entrepreneur.
The same instincts that know whether you should or should not attempt a handstand in yoga class are the same instincts that know whether you should or should not be doing what you’re doing with your life right now.
Are you doing the right thing with your life right now?
Your instincts probably just answered that question even before you finish reading the question.
Your instincts always have the right answer. You just need to be quiet and listen.
Cheers to yoga.
Lord knows you can’t find that kind of wisdom in a Zumba class.