7 Ways Yoga Made My Life Better

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1. I found a job I actually love.
Money or no money, I love teaching yoga. Yes. I am a teacher. I claim it. Being a yoga teacher gives me the emotional fulfillment of watching someone grow and learn, but without the hassles of grading papers. 😉 Teaching is also a wonderful learning process. Every once in a while, people notice the methodology and I am met with compliments or criticism. Either way, I learn which methods are effective and I find out on which areas I need to improve. I learn, I earn, and I am thankful. Being a yoga teacher, I always try to be mindful of my words and actions. I try (not always successfully) to adhere to yogic principles of Yama and I always hope in my heart that my students do the same.

2. I no longer slouch (sometimes).
Yoga improves the posture. That’s inarguable. In fact, one of the eight limbs of yoga is asana, which literally means ‘posture’ in Sanskrit. Since I started practicing asanas, I’ve engaged muscles I never even knew existed. “Sthira sukham asanam” – asanas are steady and comfortable. And somehow, a level of comfort resonates in me when I do certain postures. I’ve heard my teachers (and myself) say “lengthen your spine”, “widen your shoulders”, and “open your chest” more times than any other phrase in the world that these words have already been implanted in my subconscious. And what the mind says, the body follows. That’s why yoga is so effective. It doesn’t just give your body a work-out, it gives your mind a work-in too.

3. I have established a deeper connection with myself.
One of my favorite things that my teacher says is, “Make a conscious effort to [insert specific verb of action here]…” Yoga is also about awakening your consciousness in a whole deeper level, and that usually starts with the breath. I notice that when my teacher says “close your eyes, take deep breaths, acknowledge your emotions, and let them go”, and if I do exactly that, that’s when my mind becomes hyperactive. That’s when I come to realizations about the way I’ve been living my life, treating others, treating myself. Those are the moments I’m grateful for. Those few moments before I let my thoughts go give me a chance to think about wanting to become a better person.

4. I make a conscious effort to take things in moderation.
Should I eat this cake? Probably not but I can take a few bites. Am I allowed to have wine? Of course. A glass or two would suffice. I don’t necessarily have to deprive myself just because I practice yoga. But it is very important that I become conscious of my habits before I can even indulge. Can I do Bakasana (Crow Pose) 10 times in a row? No, that’s how people rip their shoulders. Maybe try 2-3 times and then rest.

5. My patience has tremendously increased.
The thing about yoga asanas is that more often than not, they are very awkward to execute in the beginning. You have to deal with your limbs flaying out or bent in a way that doesn’t really give comfort if you’re a beginner. But these moments of discomfort have been my defining moments. Whether it was holding a Warrior 2 for over a minute daily, or slowly working my way towards a wall-less Headstand for nearly two years now, or painstaikingly engaging my core so my Crow can take flight, something in the awkwardness has changed me. Now I can (try to) breathe into the discomfort and know with mild certainty that my mind will not give in to the stress. And when your mind is calm and clear, you can handle anything with grace even under pressure.

6. I have forgiven those who wronged me.
I forgive the security guard who won’t let me park in front of his establishment (even though easement is public property and anyone is legally allowed to park there), because he is only doing his job. I forgive my friend who ditched me when I needed her most, because I’m not the only person in her life and I should be fine with that. I forgive the girl who stole my ex-boyfriend, because I’m also thankful that she did. I forgive the boy who broke my heart, because then I learned what to look for in a partner. I forgive the guy who commented offensive things about rape and sexism, and pray that violent things don’t happen to his sister or daughter. I forgive the girl who talks about me behind my back, or the guy who thinks I’m full of shit. Life is too short to be angry all the time. As the cliché goes: “You’re in my life for a reason – either you’re a blessing or a lesson.” I hope everyone extends the same understanding, or at least tolerance, for people who have different cirumstances and views in life.

7. I have forgiven myself for being human. 
It is an unfortunate inevitability that humans are inclined to err. And this is something I accept about myself now. I won’t go so far as to say that I purposefully make mistakes, but I have allowed myself that certain margin of error wherein I can just let things pass and not give myself shit for days on end.

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