Metaphors From The Mat
By: Jeanine Talento, E-RYT 500
Instagram – @jeaninetalento
Some days you wake up feeling spunky and full of life. Other days you wake up feeling like your feet weigh 100 pounds each and you’re walking through a muddy lake. Of course, we all want the former – to wake up feeling alert, energetic, positive, and excited for the day ahead. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. This, my friends, is life. It’s a wild ride, but oh how beautiful it is.
The truth is, if we woke up every day feeling amazing and happy then that wouldn’t be that exciting. We need contrast in life to cultivate appreciation and experiential comparison. Through my personal yoga practice, I have come to accept the roller coaster ride of life with my hands up and my hair flowing in the air. This was not an easy process, but freedom was on the other side. There are countless metaphors from our yoga mat that can help us understand life better. With this understanding, we can step into a more peaceful and joyful existence. Ah, doesn’t that sound nice.
Every day is different. As I’ve already mentioned, every day is different. This applies to our yoga practice as well. Some days we can hold a warrior 3 with our arms extended with absolutely no problem – we’re breathing, we’re holding our drishti, we’re golden. Other days we are a wobbling, foot-cramping, frustrated mess. That’s OK. That’s life. That’s the practice. When we can release expectations, let go of comparison, and meet ourselves where ever we are each day, life seems much more fun and a lot less serious. Step into each day as an exploration and enjoy the ride.
Release Resistance. Through our breath we begin to let go of unnecessary tension in our bodies on our mats. This process of inviting ease into the body is also an essential step in stress management off of our mat. When tension rises, which it will (sorry!), we take the lessons off of our mats and into our lives. We can slow down our breath, relax our shoulders, and tune into what we’re really feeling. This is a valuable skill to be able to drop into the present moment and calm yourself down. The less tension we have, the more we are able to enjoy and appreciate what is going on in the moment. (on & off the mat!)
You Are Stronger Than You Think. Did you ever see someone do a pose and think “I could never do that!!” … but now you can do it? Were you ever in a class thinking “I don’t know how I’m going to get through this.. it’s only 15 minutes in, I’m starving, I’m sweating, I’m tired!!” …. but you did the whole class? Have you ever had a yoga teacher hold you in a warrior 2 for 15 breaths and every muscle in your body is burning and you wanted to give up… but you made it to that 15th exhale? We are so much stronger than we think. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from yoga is not to believe everything I think. Our minds are extremely powerful. Our minds will always try to get in the way. When we can get out of our heads and into our bodies, we realize how strong we truly are. In life this happens all of the time. We talk ourselves out of doing things we really want to do. We let our fears overpower our dreams. We convince ourselves so many things that aren’t true. When you notice this happening, get out of your head and back into your body. Remember all of the times that you proved yourself wrong. Remember that thoughts have power but they aren’t always TRUE. Don’t believe everything you think. You are stronger than you think.
Love Yourself. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. This kind of says it all, doesn’t it? We are the ones who make the decision to step onto our mat. We are the ones who hold the pose, who release resistance, who stay strong. Through the yoga practice, your relationship with yourself inevitably strengthens. We begin to discern what we want and what we need and make decisions based on what is best for us. Yoga is self-study. Sometimes we may practice in a room with 20 others, 50 others, 100 others – and sometimes it may just be us in our bedroom alone on our mat. Yes, community is important – we know that. But if we aren’t showing up for ourselves .. if we aren’t best friends with ourselves… then how could we truly and mindfully show up for other people? When the mind is quiet, the soul will speak. In yoga, we quiet the mind and invite our soul to speak. When we can find a home within ourselves, we can conquer anything. When we can learn to love ourselves fully and whole heartedly, we can more easily accept every different day as it comes, release our resistance and stay strong. Go head’ and love yourself.
Life can be our greatest teacher. Every experience is an opportunity to learn. Everything is a lesson or a blessing. Notice how you talk to yourself on your mat. Notice how you have the ability to change your energy and attitude through a few simple postures. Notice that physical flexibility isn’t all that is important, but also mental flexibility. Remember that with an open heart and an open mind, the answers will come.
Let your soul speak to you on your mat and take the lessons out into the world. Use your practice as your best teacher. We are all ever-changing and evolving, that is inevitable. It is how you flow with the inevitable changes of life that show your true character.
Next time you step on your mat, notice the metaphors. Step off of your mat and into the world with a willingness to share your new insights, lessons, and blessings. This is what our world needs. Aho.
By: Jeanine Talento, E-RYT 500