You're early to your evening Yin yoga class. You sit strong and tall in Hero and close your eyes. As you begin to settle in, you realize you've been early to your yoga classes all week.
In fact recently, your yoga calendar has really taken off. This teacher really inspires you, and you've made every effort to map out both your work and social calendars in order to make it to class. Since you're early, you get to have a moment with her to ask questions about poses and even to share your recent work stresses and anxieties. She is easy to talk to and her genuine smile is almost contagious.
You begin to wonder, what has this woman so happy all the time? And better yet, how can I have some? Does she get angry, irritable, unpleasant? Is she superhuman? The answer is simple and perhaps surprising. She is most likely not superhuman and it is very likely she does get angry, irritable, and unpleasant at times.
The reason why she radiates love and light is likely because she practices yoga both on, and off, her mat. The kindness, patience, and tolerance you find on your mat can go into all areas of your life. Hungry for more? Read on to feed your yoga soul.
1. Be Kinder to the Earth
You take the time to take care of your body, your mat, and you even toss all your sports bras into one of those cool nets in the wash so you extend their lifespan. Why not take time to care for the earth, too?
This doesn't mean you have to strap yourself to a tree the next time you hear a forest flattened in Honduras. Saving the trees is a beautiful thing, but to go green on your terms, start by being conscious of your water bottle usage. Do you throw out a couple plastic bottles a day? How about in a week?
If you practice mindfulness both on and off your mat, you might stop to think where those plastic bottles end up. Why not try saving those bottles and making a trip to the recycling plant once a week? Even better, why not purchase a reusable bottle you can refill? Think of how many bottles you could save from ending up in a landfill.
The same goes for plastic bags. Invest in reusable bags and carry them with you on all market trips. You'll see how fast that bunch of plastic bags you're hoarding under your sink disappears. Better yet, you'll see how one person can really make a difference on the waste front.
To go one step further, bike or walk to your destination any time the weather permits. You'll learn your city in a new way, add some bonus miles to your Fitbit, and greatly reduce your carbon footprint.
2. Be Kinder to Your Neighbor
You're putting the final touches on an email to your boss. Your head is buried in projections, and you'd prefer not to be disturbed. Your cubicle neighbor pokes her head over your too-short cubicle wall and asks for a black pen. You quickly glance at your pen-filled coffee mug and notice highlighters and a ton of blue pens–none black. Your initial reaction is to yell "Not now!"
But you stop. You take a deep, intentful breath. Good. You needed that breath. You practice patience and tolerance on your yoga mat, why not now? You've halted your aggressive typing and lean back in your chair. You go over to your filing cabinet and open your bottom drawer where you store all your surplus supplies.
There! A box of black pens! You take three and hand them to your neighbor whose face is beaming. You tell her to hang on to a couple; after all, you can certainly spare a few. She thanks you repeatedly, and you feel great.
That confidence and goodheartedness you feel pours into your email as you wrap it up and hit 'send.' You're less stressed throughout the rest of your day because you spoke with intent, and you don't have to worry about apologizing for any thoughtless behavior. You know you've helped out your pal, but really, she's helped you out.
3. Be Kinder to Yourself
Your pals invite you to an evening of funtivities. There's much to celebrate–a promotion, an upcoming move, and you met a new guy. You excitedly accept and hurry to your closet. After trying on a couple things, you notice your arms aren't as small as you'd like and your tummy pokes out in your go-to black dress.
Your hopeful attitude about a fun night out quickly shifts to negative and despondent. In yoga, you are positive and hopeful for an hour to ninety minutes of your practice. You strive to hold your Warrior III a little longer and anticipate you will come deeper into your twists each time you do them.
What if you strived to be more hopeful and positive about everything you did? What if you criticized your appearance less and fed your soul positive affirmations daily?
Try this. Instead of saying “My arms are too big,” say “My arms are strong in my Chaturanga.” Rather than saying “I look fat in this,” say “I'm going to make healthy decisions at dinner.” You will come to find that a good attitude and confident demeanor wears well and is always trendy.
So sit up strong and tall in class. You're more like your yoga teacher than you thought. Be kinder to your earth, your neighbor, and yourself. You, too, will radiate love and light.
In time, you might find yourself inspiring others to carry yoga with them and sprinkle mindfulness, intentful action, and positive affirmations around like confetti on a birthday cake. Yes, I said cake. Enjoy your cake!