|Photo by Marion Michele on Unsplash|
"You don't do yoga to get better at yoga.
You do yoga to get better at life.”
When people learn that I practice yoga, almost always the first question has to do with my ability to touch my toes. I always laugh a little on the inside because first of all, it depends on what day it is how deep my forward fold goes. More importantly, touching your toes is not really what yoga is all about. Not at its core.
Yoga will definitely help you gain strength and flexibility, no question. However, yoga also taught me humility and composure. It has reduced my anxiety and helped me improve my productivity. I have found a community of people who talk openly about kindness, self-care and gratitude.
I find the same efforts I use to steady my tree pose or lengthen my forward fold, I can use to solve a problem or finish a project. I can organize my kitchen to create simple but flavorful meals. I can write daily for introspection and then share my ideas with the world.
Yoga has taught me how to flow through my day and find small ways to make me smile and boost my mood. When things frustrate me, I pause and consider why I find it frustrating. Then I can deal with it. Often times I can act in a way that will fulfill the need or allow me to let it go.
This means if I start a project and realize I honestly have no interest in knitting or cycling, I can let it go. Though it was really fun to learn new and give it a try, I can go on to the next thing.
Just like some days I can fold down into a half pigeon no problem and others I'm on my back because my hips are so tight. There's no reason to beat myself up about something that will continue to change. We can be tired or stiff, and it's really no different than being hungry. You fill the need and then move on.
I'll be right back into my deep stretch before I know it, as soon as I get the kink worked out. Sometimes it's getting sick or a special event. Sometimes it's just waking up tired or cold or hot and the whole day starts off. It all works out, you just have to keep going and give yourself plenty of grace along the way.
Yoga does challenge you to touch your toes, but it also challenges you to better your attitude, your relationships, and your effectiveness. The yoga philosophies of peace, competence and contentment have taught me how to create a better life. At the same time, I can now consistently touch my toes.