Breathe…. Reach…. Stretch… Lengthen… Engage your core…. Set your intentions for this practice.
These are the words that I speak to myself when doing Yoga.
Yoga is my fix . My glass of wine. My morning cup of joe. My spiritual, physical, and mental refreshment. My connectedness with myself “on the mat”, searching inwardly to sprout tiny lifelines to my body, mind, and soul, weaving them together fostering growth. Feet planted firmly on the ground, fingers reaching upward to the sky, we find ourselves stabilizing, unwinding, opening our heart, blooming – expanding and exposing areas within that need to break free and feel the kiss of fresh air. A Lotus Blossom, emerging from the depths of murky water, breaking the surface, seeking life. An Awakening.
It’s hard. It’s addicting. It’s refreshingly satisfying to complete an hour on the mat that works so completely every part of the body and cleanses your spirit like a drink of cool water. It nourishes every pore. It does that for me now. I breathe more deeply. I stand taller, my shoulders back. I am more flexible, lighter on my feet, stronger. My head is clearer. Relaxed. Refreshed.
But, added to the physical aspects, Yogi’s speak my language, words that reach into my soul and embed themselves into the silver lining of memorable thoughts, those “ah-ha” moments to be savored. I am intrigued with their knowledge, their dedication, and their calm approach to life. I admire it. I aspire to become better at it. And I am on a mission to take pieces of each class and tuck it away to use daily in my life, on the mat and off. I am also on a mission to explore new classes, new instructors, and learn the different styles that each bring to the practice of Yoga. Hearing their words, becoming better, stronger, and more accepting of my own weaknesses, embracing the strengths, and looking optimistically at the world and my part in making it a better place. Honoring my life and the world we live in.
I pulled from that silver lining today and recalled the words of one of my instructors and want to pass this gift along to all of you, my reading friends….
We all have a best friend. It could be your spouse, partner, sibling, or friend. One who brings joy to your life and gives you strength. One who knows you, inside and out. Good and bad. Now, close your eyes and picture this friend standing in front of you. Picture their face. Their familiar smile. The sound of their voice and their laughter. Picture the soothing feeling that you get when you see them, when you hear their voice. The calm and happy effect their presence has over you when you are with them. The joy. The unconditional acceptance of who you are and that every inch of you is beautiful. It feels good to be so loved and supported, no matter what you do or what happens in your life.
Now, take their face out of that picture. Replace it with your own. Look at yourself from your own eyes and just for today, be your own best friend. Be the one that looks over your shoulder as you go through your day. Be your own shadow, an echo in your mind. Be the one that says all the things that a best friend says. Be the one that allows you not to be perfect. Be the one that says “ no matter what, it’s ok”. Be the one that says:
“You are beautiful”
“You are just right”
“I support you in whatever you do”.
“I want to bring a smile to your face”.
“You look good just the way you are.”
Sometimes, we are our biggest critic. Our worst enemy. Our loudest naysayer. Our own bully. We think we are too fat or too skinny. Too old. Too insecure. Too timid. We are the ones who can’t do something. We think we aren’t creative or smart or wise. That familiar voice in our head talking to us every second, critical and overbearing and sometimes just not nice.
Think about how hard we are on ourselves sometimes. Think about how many times we make ourselves feel inadequate. We take the light out of our own eyes. The smile from our face. Our shoulders are rounded. We are merely hunkered over shadows of the person we are intended to be, shuffling aimlessly through the day, our intent unknown.
I say to you. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. Stop. Don’t do that. It’s time to be a friend to yourself. A best friend – one that lifts you up, not takes you down. Be the one that takes your own hand, holds it tight, and leads you into the clear waters of joyful living. Pull your shoulders back, let your heart breathe. Place your prayer hands together and bow your head to the gift of being alive.
Whether you are a Yogi or not, let the earth today be your Yoga mat. Commit your intentions today to grace the world with the gift of YOU. Have your best friend (yourself!) by your side as you walk through your glorious life with the energy of joy and happiness surrounding you, moving you forward, being your compass. Feel the heavenly aura you create. Watch yourself bloom. Be the Lotus Blossom emerging from the darkness and unfolding into the beauty you are. Watch the amazing response that results from being “that” person who changes frowns into smiles. Tears into Laughter. Sorrow into Joy. Celebrate yourself. Awaken your soul and celebrate your amazing life.
Celebrate simply because you are you.