Sometimes, I find practicing yoga to be the hardest thing in the world to do.
When these times of struggle and hardship appear, more often than not it has nothing to do with my asana or physical abilities, and everything to do with my attitude, the thoughts in my head, and what’s going on in my everyday life.
There are times when I come to my yoga mat and I feel anything but peaceful. Instead, I feel tired, confused, and defeated in my everyday life, and my yoga quickly becomes a mirror that I can use to look at myself more clearly and more honestly.
It is on my yoga mat that I ask myself some serious questions.
…And sometimes, I don't want to know the answers. I’d rather just escape to my breath and hope for the best.
This is where I do some of my best self-reflection and self-awareness work. I ask myself questions like, “What are my intentions for this life, and are they pure?” and “Why do I teach yoga and why do I want to share this craft?”
From a safe position on my yoga mat, I take a close, hard look at why I am doing the things I am doing. I explore my sources of inspiration and motivation, and I ask myself if what I am doing with my life is done out of love, understanding, and service… or if my motives are simply self-serving.
When I catch myself with self-serving motives, I go a deeper within, and I explore the possibility that maybe there is nothing wrong with looking out for myself every once in a while. In sharing my struggles, my vulnerability, and my authentic self, I know deep down that I am helping others not to feel so alone.
I remind myself that self-preservation is good for the soul, and I return to my life’s mission of serving the world around me with love and understanding.
My yoga mat is also my sanctuary.
My yoga mat is a place where I rest my weary body, mind, and spirit.
By including the practices of yoga nidra (deep relaxation) and restorative asana, I am able to experience absolute surrender and rest. I come to this place to heal my mind, my body, and my soul. I let go as I am fully wrapped in blankets, and sensations of calm and abundant love.
This practice fills me with deep gratitude, and I sometimes catch myself relishing in how luxurious it all feels. Sometimes I even catch myself feeling selfish, and I must remind myself that it is necessary to recharge my batteries if I am to continue on with my mission.
My yoga mat is also where my asana gets a-kicking.
When I have extra energy to burn off, or when I am feeling anxious, I come to my mat for a strong Vinyasa practice to bring me back to a place of peaceful surrender. It is here that I experience extreme gratitude for what my body can do, so I can stop focusing on what it can't do and what I don't have.
I come to realize that the things I can’t do in my asana practice are really just opportunities to discover how I can overcome obstacles and change my perceptions. It allows me to be open to what is.
What my yoga practice never does is judge me or let me down.
Instead, it is always there to support me even when my world and all the people in it are not.
My yoga never tells me I am not good enough. I may, however, tell myself that and then it becomes a self-filling prophecy. My yoga is here to remind me that setbacks happen and that they are simply an opportunity for growth.
Most of all, my yoga practice is my therapist, my cheerleader, my happy place, and my sad place. ~Dianne Bondy
My yoga mat is a place of wonder, and a place of understanding. Together, these places are either a warm hug, or a kick in my ass. When I am lost in my practice, I arrive at a place of compassionate self-reflection, and my mat becomes a safe place to find inner peace.
Above all else, my practice is not anyone else's, my body is not anyone else's, and my yoga doesn’t look like anyone else's. It is just mine—and lost in it all, I am free to be me.