For all the planning, visualizing, dreaming, and praying I have done in my life to get exactly what I think I want, rarely have things turned out the way I originally wished. Thank goodness! Without fail, after time has done it’s thing and I’ve had the chance to reflect, I have realized I’ve gotten what I needed instead. Yes, much like the Garth Brooks song Unanswered Prayers.
A few examples:
- I wanted to be the CEO of ExxonMobil by age 35. Luckily, instead of a career boosting position after my first year in the company, I got a shitty boss that made me turn to yoga out of desperation. And then yoga proceeded to change my life, nbd.
- I thought I wanted to be a total urban chick who rode the metro to work in cute professional clothes. Fast-forward a few years, I live in a town-house in Houston, I drive an SUV, and own a wardrobe that is made up primarily of yoga pants. Funny thing is, I have made more friends, felt more a part of a community, and relaxed into a slower paced life that suits me way better (and will likely result in less wrinkles as I age) here in Texas than I would have ever in my Northeast dreamland.
- I wanted a small dog that was hypoallergenic, non-shedding, and a girl (boy dogs hump things and that makes me uncomfortable!) What I got when I moved to Houston, was a 12 year old, hairy, shedding, 62-lb, 3-legged golden retriever with the sex drive of a young pup. Despite the unwelcome humps and having to dump out the vacuum cleaner at least 3 times every time I clean the house, I can’t tell you how much JJ has taught me over the past year and how happy I am to be his mama.
These are just a few silly examples, but you get the point. Luckily, reflecting on these experiences has helped me get better at deciphering my wants to determine what I really need in certain situations. I’ve realized that more often than not, wanting stems from ego, comparisons, and expectations, and breaking free from all that nonsense to focus on what I truly need has been pretty amazing.
If you’re pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down and it sounds like something you want to work on, a perfect place to start practicing this skill is on your yoga mat. Before class, set an intention to get what you need from your practice and spend some time figuring out what that is. If what you actually need that day is more rest than arm balances, take restorative variations throughout class (even if they are not cued). If you need more energy, bring in Ujaii breath and go BIG in your heart openers (wheel, camel, fish, etc.) If you need calm and clarity, make your exhales a bit longer than your inhales (cools and slows the body) and try to turn class into a moving meditation. Basically, take your practice into your own hands. Let go of what you think you want from yoga (stronger abs, more flexible hammies, buckets of sweat, etc.) and honor your body, in the present moment, by giving it what it really needs.
A few posts ago, I talked about the fact that how you practice yoga reflects how you live your life. Well, I also think that how you practice yoga can change how you live your life. Learning about what you need on your mat will help you gain clarity around what you need to find balance, courage, and happiness in your day to day.