Yoga is more than poses on a yoga mat. It’s how you live life when you’re not on the mat. If you are a living, breathing being, you have been face-to-face with two constants in this life: pain and change—both of which are inevitable. You may have even sat with them for days, weeks or even years. You may get up from the table before the conversation even began. If you stay at the table long enough, compassion will join and then suggest that you attend a yoga class.
There are lessons taught in yoga classes can also be used off of your mat. The lessons of setting intentions, compassion, and kindness, contentment, gratitude, staying present and letting go.
Setting intentions at the beginning of each yoga class is to set goals for yourself during your practice, grace for not fully focusing or falling out of poses. Setting intentions away from the mat is just as important because you cannot allow the day control you or give others permission for your happiness. Set intentions that align with you before the start of each day and stay focused on your goals—always.
Compassion and kindness in yoga class are used to show yourself grace on the mat. When we step on to our mats, stand shoulder to shoulder with other humans and try very hard to lay our egos down, only then can we experience true compassion. Compassion reminds us that we are all human beings doing the best we can with what we have at that moment. To practice compassion and kindness off of the mat requires you to take your judgmental hats off and show grace to not only yourself but to strangers as well. We are all walking through this life together and to hold hands with each other will make the walk more bearable.
Contentment on your mat can be difficult to hold onto the outside of class because of all of the distractions the real world has to offer. Materialistic distractions coupled with a comparison of others, contentment goes right out the door once you leave the yoga studio. In order to carry this lesson off the mat, you must learn to be grateful for every moment in your life and for all that you have at the moment. Contentment teaches us to love ourselves just as we are.
Gratitude on the mat is to thank yourself for where you are in that exact moment. Sometimes, we are already in the next moment that we have forgotten about the present moment. To practice this lesson off the mat, thank the world for giving you what you want before asking for it, believe it’s yours before you receive it.
Staying present is one of the main lessons taught in yoga classes across the world. To stay present at the moment is to not want or need anything but to be grateful for every ounce of that moment. Staying present off the mat will decrease stress and anxiety and to not worry or plan for the future.
Let go of all expectations of every single one that you have ever had for yourself before you step onto your yoga mat. Let it all go—the judgment, the comparison and the hatred for what we cannot change. This lesson is the most important lesson to carry off the mat. Life will either happen to you or for you—it cannot do both. Learning to let go of what you cannot change is the most important thing you can achieve.