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Yoga On & Off the Mat

May 6, 2021

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I would race home from my 9am-5pm job, throw my work bag down, and rush to change into my yoga gear. Practically sprinting to the studio, I would make it just in time for the 5:45pm class with beads of sweat dripping down my face as I checked in.

Missing my favorite yoga class wasn’t an option. It was my time to decompress from the stress of the day and simply be present on my mat. Yoga became my medicine. 

Headache? Yoga. Indigestion? Yoga. Disagreement with my boss? You guessed it, more yoga.

The studio was my safe haven where real world problems couldn’t touch me. 

Even though I fell in love with the movements on the mat, the endorphin high wore off when I reached my apartment after class and faced reality again.

There is no doubt that yoga has a plethora of benefits. However, yoga for me was simply becoming a bandaid. A way to temporarily patch the wound instead of recognizing the tools I was learning on the mat as a way to avoid the situation of getting the wound in the first place.

Yoga and meditation teach you to connect to your body and mind, to become aware of your thoughts, and to slow down and dispel stress. I was doing all of this on the mat, yet it wasn’t until I started taking these ideas off of the mat and into my daily life that I started to see real tangible changes in my happiness levels.

How I started to take yoga off of the mat: 

  • Slowing down 
    • I started to find more ways to incorporate meditation in my daily life. A daily morning and evening practice along with remembering to take a breath (or 5!) whenever I felt myself spiralling. 
  • Frequent body check-ins 
    • Your body holds so much knowledge — especially when you get in touch with your intuition. Body scans became a frequent part of my day to help me make decisions. 
  • Practicing more kindness 
    • There is a principle of yoga called Ahimsa, which means non-violence. It is about being kind and compassionate toward yourself and others. This spans negative self talk, gossip and actions. I stopped beating myself up and replaced it with giving myself grace. Then, I did the same for others. With more empathy and forgiveness, situations that would have been a code red were dialed back to only a minor offense. 
  • Speaking truth
    • Another yoga principle is Satya, which stands for truth. Often, I would compromise my needs in order to help someone else. I didn’t know how to set boundaries or say no. Now, I practice actually saying what I feel (kindly, of course) even if it isn’t what others want to hear. 
  • Feeling fear and doing it anyway
    • Finally, in yoga we learn that fear can be the main cause of not getting into a pose. Perhaps, we are afraid of falling, so we don’t even attempt to try handstand. Or, we’re nervous that we are not strong enough to hold ourselves up, so crow is an absolute no-no. When we recognize the fear and push forth cautiously, we feel a deep sense of freedom. Like releasing a heavy weight we’ve been carrying for no reason. 

So, I put these 5 principles into action. 

I started trusting that everything would work out.

I started showing up with more confidence in myself. 

I started speaking my truth and telling people how I really feel. 

I started giving myself grace and being gentle.

This is when everything changed. My energy was higher, and I could feel this magnetic vibration I was giving off. Then from here, it was a snowball effect. I started to live in alignment with what I truly wanted and trusted that it would all unfold exactly how it was supposed to.

Of course, it’s not rainbows and butterflies every day, but by abiding by these principles, I know I can weather whatever is thrown my way.

So, I hope you too can find more contentment by practicing yoga on and off the mat.

Nikki Novoselsky

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