Firstly, Thank You ALL for your questions and comments about topics you’d like to see covered on the YogaHub blog. There are some really great ones and we’ll aim to answer all that we can.
One that really resonated with me was how to bring more compassion and love into our lives on and off the mat.
This is a topic that could be explored infinitely. But, to me, yoga is love. Life is love. The breath (prana) is love. Love is one of those things can get lumped into the realms of cliché or romantic mushiness, but it’s actually something that is more substantial and more encompassing than anything else. It’s something that takes strength, awareness, and some slowing down to see—like yoga. To me, love is everything, and anything that’s not loving is just a cloud against a sky that always experiences the sun.
So, how do we allow this love and compassion into our lives if it’s always there? Why isn’t it more obvious?
I’ll tell you a story. A good friend of mine was having a very productive Monday until he reached a 7 pm energy crash. At 8 pm, I met up with him and noticed that he was scrolling through price catalogues for a work project on his phone.
He put the phone down and said, “I’m feeling agitated. I don’t know why. I started off the day feeling so good. So motivated. But I can’t seem to keep it up.”
I noticed his furrowed brow and asked him, “Are you being kind to yourself? Are you letting yourself be happy with the small things?”
It was like a light turned on (or rather, turned off) in his head. He said, “No, I’m not being very kind to myself.”
Being kind to yourself is yoga. Knowing when to say, “I can’t take these calls right now. I can’t look at these catalogues. It’s time for donuts and pyjamas and comfy blankets and videos of dogs chasing their tails,”—that’s yoga too. The only thing that changed in my friend was his perception. Love was always there.
You see, love and compassion come in many different shapes. Sometimes it’s loving to experience motivation. Sometimes it’s loving to enjoy excitement. But sometimes it’s loving to just let everything go. Let any notion of a goal or a to-do list or a practical way of doing something—just let it slip. If it feels right for you, magnetise yourself to that good feeling.
Now, take this to the mat. Let’s say you’ve been holding Warrior II for a while. Your thighs are burning, your shoulders feel like they’re about to crack, your toes are about to pop their knuckles from gripping. You’ve just felt a surge of emotion run through you and you feel like you might even cry because you’ve peaked in your day. Ask yourself in that moment, “Am I being kind to myself?” The answer might be to take a big, deep breath, and find strength in Warrior II. The answer might be to step out, take a breath, and then step back in to the pose. Or, the most loving thing might be to stop completely and rest in Child’s Pose on your mat while the rest of the class continues. Can you imagine how it would feel to be the only one resting in Child’s Pose while the rest of the class transitions through another Sun Salutation? I bet it would feel pretty ballsy. And I bet it would be the biggest love you could give to yourself that day.
So, how do we experience love when it doesn’t seem obvious? How do we know the sun is there when the sky is covered with clouds?
When that loving feeling seems just out of reach, ask yourself these questions:
Am I being kind to myself?
What is the most loving thing I can do for myself, even if everyone else around me is doing something completely different?
Then let yourself experience the strength and courage of that love in everything you do. Let that be your yoga.