Yoga Off the Mat …

I talk about this all the time in my classes: Yoga applies to every moment of your life, on and off your mat. This practice is about living your yoga. Yet, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been practicing yoga, meditation or some other form of mindfulness, life has a way of sneaking up and startling you. They may be big or small moments of surprised upheaval but they are there. You could freak out, melt down, get angry or sad. Or, you could remain calm. However, no amount of practice will help you avoid an upset and that’s how I found myself this morning.

Each Sunday, we visit my mother-in-law, bringing her lunch. We mostly go to one bagel shop for this lunch and, over the past several months, each Sunday there has been a problem with our orders. Either they leave something out, they don’t have what we want, the line is very long, the people taking our orders are very slow, they don’t listen to what we order, they don’t write things down, etc., etc. Every week, I say to my husband we shouldn’t come back here and every week we find ourselves there because it’s right around the corner, easy, and we know they have what she wants. This morning, again, they didn’t have what I wanted, the person helping us was slow and then totally disappeared! It just grated on me and I got upset.

After 20+ years of practicing yoga, I am still navigating these moments because, to be truthful, it takes a lot of work to maintain your cool, to choose your attitude, to respond instead of react. It takes giving yourself the time and space to make the choice to respond mindfully. And, what happens during that time and space is not pretty. It can involve biting my tongue until it bleeds, or complaining and getting upset at the wrong person, or it can involve tears or anger. What am I doing in these moments between reaction and response? Today, I was certainly not breathing, not tuning into the choice that I know I have of the attitude I want to take. I realized ,my practice doesn’t make for a calm life but it does make that calm life possible. Yet, it continues to take work. Being calm and peaceful is not effortless. It takes persistence and determination to maintain mindfulness practices. Just like coming to your mat. Practices that allow us to pause and choose. Our attitude is ours to choose and choosing wisely affects more than just you. As I saw today, it affected my husband, my mother-in-law, the server at the bagel store, probably even you as I relate this story.

So, we practice because life can and will sneak up and try to rattle us. That’s what life does. We practice because we are going to need the great amounts of inner resolve, strength, and skills that our practice provides. Because we all know it is a whole lot easier to control ourselves than it is to control life. What this practice is giving us is the ability to allow even the upsetting bits of life to unfold as they will and then choose our response. Is it easy? No, definitely not. Does it work, yes!! Always? No. So, what do we do? We get back on our mat — we breath, we flow, we tune in, we find determination and resolve. We calm ourselves. It’s a practice we keep doing over and over again until we can practice it more easily off our mat (or, go to a different bagel shop, LOL).

Hope to see you on your mat this week in any of our in-studio or online classes where you can practice until it becomes effortless to remain calm because you choose to do so.

As always, thanks for reading my musings.  Namaste, Leslie

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