I was having a conversation with my co-worker Michael the other day. I said something, and he smiled and said, “That’s that yoga talk right there!” It got me thinking about how important “that yoga talk” really is. I began doing yoga in 2007, but I began to practice yoga philosophies on AND off the mat in 2016 when the first piece of yoga talk really hit me. (The teacher presents when the student is ready.)
Yoga isn’t just about being flexible; it’s a lifestyle. Flexibility comes from both physical and mental strength. We realize our strength when we learn to control our mind, not let our mind control us.
Here are some yoga talks that I hope can help you live peacefully on and off whatever/wherever your mat may be.
#1) On your ego
“Leave your ego at the door. Put it in a little box with a nice bow on it and set it aside”
– Luc Prenoveau (IG: @luctheyogi)
Luc said this at the beginning of an inversion (handstands/arm balances) class. She brought to light that if we are always looking around the room and comparing ourselves to the people beside us and around us, we will always fall out of the pose and never find OUR strength.
We don’t know their story. We don’t know their background or the path they’ve taken to get to where they are. Focus on you and your path. Look to others only for inspiration and teaching, not comparisons.
#2) On reclaiming your time
“Thank you, but this is my time now.”
– Laryssa Neel from All Y’All Yoga
Laryssa was speaking to those thoughts that arise in our heads and distract the few moments of peace in our days. When thoughts arise that distress us or hurt our peace, kindly repeat her mantra. Acknowledge them, thank them for showing up, but know you can deal with them later (if you can even remember what they are).
Give yourself and your mind permission to rest. Your to-do list will never be complete.
#3) On accepting guidance
“Part of the practice is to let your teacher guide you.”
– Abby Goodwin
Even if we think we know what we’re doing, part of the journey of life is to let go and let others help us. Let people people guide you. Be OK not knowing everything. Sit back and enjoy your journey without constantly trying to predict what is next.
#4) On self-love
“Love thy neighbor as you love thy self. Do we talk nice to ourselves?”
– Jennifer Huber from All Y’All Yoga
Jennifer said the other day she was driving by a church with this sign: “Love thy neighbor as you love thy self.” She wondered if that was the problem. We have a tendency to fill our heads with negativity and self-harm. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.
Name your inner critic and tell him or her to knock it off. “Listen here, Nancy, I don’t need you dragging me down now! I have a good thing going!” (That’s the name of my inner critic.)
#5) On building a strong foundation
“Get the picture from Instagram out of your head.”
– Wes Bozeman from Gaze Hot Yoga
Quit rushing to what you think the end pose should look like. Instead, focus on your foundation. If we’re always rushing to get something finished so it looks like something we’re comparing it against, we’ll miss our on own personal journey and our foundation won’t be built properly.
It doesn’t matter if you can stand on one foot and have your other foot over your head if your posture isn’t right and you can’t safely hold yourself up to receive the healing benefits. Anything worth doing is worth doing right – even if it takes you 10 years to be strong enough to do it. Quit rushing, quit judging, and stand on one foot first.
Learn from the flow
These are all practices. Work daily on them, and soon you’ll realize they’ve become a way of life.
You will stumble, you will fall, and you will learn hard lessons. You will be there for people going through their hard lessons. You will need to forgive those who will never apologize. Most of all, you will learn to forgive yourself and begin to find peace, strength, and flexibility. My fellow yogi Elizabeth Brackman Kibert from All Y’All Yoga recently reminded me of Bruce Lee’s iconic mantra: “Be like water, my friend.”