I vividly remember my first yoga class. It was hot yoga in a carpeted room that, in my opinion, smelled like feet. Regardless, I was a determined (a.k.a Type A) newbie who was ready to conquer the mat with my “Let’s do this!” face on.
I followed the teacher’s instruction to the exact letter going to the deepest level of every pose (like the lengthy yoga superstar on the mat next to me) amidst the want to pass out and vomit. I was winning (said my ego)! I felt like crap. But, I was winning (said my ego)! And, then class ended. As we lay in our sweaty savasana, I remember thinking “Ouch, that hurt and how much longer can I hold my vomit.” Seriously.
Of course, I continued to explore my yoga practice over the years and today see it with brand new eyes each and every time I show up on the mat. This is absolutely not about knocking hot yoga. It’s about discovering, through practice, what feels good for you and what works with where you are in your mind and your body at any given time. And, yes, it’s also about showing up like your authentic self, not the ego that wants you to hop into handstand with a broken wrist!
So here are just three tips for showing up and shining your own light on the mat:
- Set an intention. Get your head right before you downward dog. We often turn ourselves pseudo Cirque de Soleil (like the lengthy superstar yogi next to us) on the mat in ways that don’t support us when we haven’t taken a moment to breathe into the “why “we’re on the mat to begin with. Slow your roll and put some meaning behind your practice. You’ll be more apt to do what feels right.
- Keep your eyes on your own mat. So, that lengthy superstar yogi on the mat next to you? Yeah, not your business. The ego loves competition and there’s no room for it when you’re looking to explore the real you. Eyes forward! Or, better yet, close your eyes and lean on your own understanding.
- Let loose. Picture me heeding the rules and following the teacher’s every instruction so that I can “win” at yoga. HA! See if you can allow yourself to go with the pose as it presents itself in your body. Maybe it’s a bended knee or a hand placed elsewhere or something completely different. As long as you are keeping it safe and on your own mat, go for it. NOTE: As a certified yoga instructor I absolutely encourage you to be mindful when your teacher offers variations that will help to keep you safe and will support your “let loose” practice. The idea is not to break anything while you explore peeps!
Remember, you are not a carbon copy. You are unique and meant to express yourself on and off the mat in your own, superstar, fearless way. So do you!
Stay tuned for my upcoming book Breathe Big. Live Big. : “A Starter Guide For Your Awesome Life!” Summer 2017.