For many years, I was not able to practice yoga as often as I do now. Yoga was less popular, and my approach to life was a bit more “yang”?actually, way more “yang”. Even though my desire to practice yoga has been with me as far back as I can remember, when I was finally able to include a routine in my daily lifestyle, many things changed for the better. My experiences with yoga were sometimes challenging to describe and these discoveries made me wonder how other people felt about their own yoga practice.
I haven’t always had the words to describe how yoga makes me feel. Perhaps I didn’t understand how I felt, or maybe I just didn’t see the connection between yoga and my inner self. My life started to develop in a subtle and uplifting way. I started witnessing my thoughts objectively, as though I was watching them on TV and found that I was no longer driven by them.
When my inner monologue would begin to go downhill and turn self-deprecating, I found that, gradually, I was able to stop the negativity in its tracks, bringing my mind back to a positive place. In time I realised I was doing what others have referred to as “taking yoga off of the mat”. Those moments of inner positivity, reflection and stillness were the nutrients I needed to help me when I wasn’t in the studio.
The more I developed my yoga practice, the more I found that I had a stronger will to choose the path that was better for me, instead of just accepting whatever life would throw my way. I also found that I was better at listening to others and appreciating what they have to say; it even became easier to accept and move on from the things I didn’t agree with.
Now, I’m not trying to say that my life has been nothing but smooth sailing, I’ve simply developed my ability to navigate stormy seas. That is, when times get challenging, it’s easy for me to see the positive side to the situation, which wasn’t a simple task before I began to practice yoga.
So you see, the time you spend doing yoga is not limited to the time you spend on your mat. Once you leave, the inner peace you’ve attained extends out to the others around you, like a ripple effect. The positivity you find through yoga will affect the people around you, and they will, in turn, pass it along to the people around them.
Every time you return to your mat you renew your positive energy, restoring yourself and bringing life to you and the people around you. Your yoga practice goes with you wherever you go, carried in your heart. And that is taking yoga off of the mat!