Happy Summer Solstice Yogis! More than once I have celebrated this day by practicing yoga in Times Square. While I don’t think I’ll ever feel the pull to do it again, I think it’s worth throwing on the bucket list if you haven’t done it. It’s a pretty amazing feeling to create such powerful energy with a huge group of people. The hustle and the chaos of Midtown charges at you but is halted by the wall of tranquility you create with all your neighbors. Participating in this event also instills a great deal of confidence in your mental and spiritual capabilities; if you can find your focus and peace and balance bent over with your ass in the air and a truck driver three feet away whistling at you out of a window, you can find it anywhere.
I was lucky enough to get to take class this morning from my favorite teacher and alongside my hubs; it was an ideal way to start my day. During class, while laying in our savasanas, Vinnie, my 5 ft 6, 70 year old instructor from Little Italy wished us a Happy International Yoga Day and congratulated us for getting up and getting our butts to class. He left us with this thought: “How different would the world be if everyone did yoga?”
I try not to allow myself to follow idealistic trains of thought; not everyone in the world is going to do yoga so there’s no use fantasizing about how people would be kinder to each other, and think more before they act, and focus more on their own lives rather than comparing themselves to others, and look within themselves for happiness rather than to outside sources. Nah, I’ll not pine for any of these achievable but unlikely outcomes on a world scale. Instead, I thought I’d just briefly share how my practice is impacting my life today:
- I’m a lot less irritable. Sure I still have my moments, but there are at least a few less eye-rolls going out on the subway when I’m getting to class regularly. Yoga is not in the instant gratification business, progress takes time. I learn to be patient and compassionate with myself first, then with the rest of the world.
- I’m more flexible. This is an obvious one for the body, but yoga makes my mind more flexible as well. After years of practice, I’ve learned to not take expectations into the room with me. Sometimes I go in feeling exhausted and drained and I end up having the strongest class ever. Other times I’m pumped and ready to go but my body has other ideas. I make room in my practice for all of these days; they teach me to adapt, they help me know that whether I’m just getting through, or I’m thriving, I’ve got the goods to cross the finish line.
- I don’t compare myself to others…as much. Again, progress, not perfection. Still, yoga has probably been my most powerful teacher in this regard. I learned very quickly that I wasn’t gaining anything by measuring myself against the person on the mat next to me. In fact I was losing something–I was missing out on my own journey. Yoga and running and lifting offer me a physical manifestation of my hard work. Even if it’s incremental, I can see progress, and that is exciting. When I focus on my own growth I get to keep the joy that comes from each little achievement. When I focus on others, that joy slips out the window. I really believe everyone’s path is laid so specific to them; I’d hate to miss or skip over something the Universe has laid out for me cause I was gawking down someone else’s path.
- I make the world a little happier, cause I’m happier. Sometimes I think there’s no problem a yoga class or a run can’t fix. This isn’t true, my problems are still there waiting for me when I’m done. But somehow, they always looks smaller, more manageable. I always feel embraced by my yoga community; we each have our own practice but we feed off of each other’s energy as well. I always leave the studio feeling like I contributed something, and that makes me feel good. When I feel good, I’m more kind and considerate and helpful to whomever I interact with that day. It’s quite possible that co-workers, friends, and family have had a better day because I went to yoga. If that doesn’t reflect a strong practice, I’m not sure what does. Happy Yoga Day All. Breathe deep and bend happy.