10 life lessons from yoga

The physical health benefits of yoga are numerous, but those who practice the ancient art say its ability to boost your emotional health as well.

Writer Erica Rodefer of SpoiledYogi.comshares the life lessons she learned from yoga.

Alignment, Alignment, Alignment

In yoga poses it’s important to align your body properly to avoid injuries. I know it sounds cheesy, but I’m learning that if I don’t align the way I live my life with my values, I put myself at risk of injuring my spirit.

Don’t Create Unnecessary Tension

When I get into a pose that challenges me a great deal, the first thing I do is clench my teeth and tense my shoulders. This does not help me achieve the pose. When I face challenges in my life, I tend to panic, rush, place blame, and over-react. This does not help me to achieve the things I want from life — in fact it hinders.

If Something Isn’t Working, You Have the Power to Change It

I love that joke where a man goes to the doctor with the complaint, "It hurts when I do this," and the doctor says, "Stop doing that, then." Sometimes it really IS that simple. If it hurts when you practice a pose a certain way… change the way you’re practicing it. If your co-worker is bringing you down with his constant negativity, you have the power to change the way you relate to that co-worker.

Little Changes Can Make a HUGE Difference

My practice completely changed for the better when I learned to lengthen my tailbone toward the ground and engage my core instead of jutting my ribcage forward. Seriously. Every pose felt different — stronger, more grounded, and all around improved. I don’t have time to practice for two hours a day right now, but I can devote 30 minutes to my yoga, and 30 more minutes to writing, reading, and doing other things that make me happy. It’s not much, but it totally shifts the entire day.

You Are Capable of More than You Ever Thought

I have to believe that whatever my goals are, I can accomplish them if I approach them determination, hard work, and persistence. Just a few years ago, I saw someone do a challenging arm balance and thought that I’d NEVER be strong enough to do that no matter what. But I can do them now (at least for a brief moment) because I just kept practicing, gaining strength, and learning the technique little by little.

It’s OK to Fall and Fail

You know that pose that looks totally impossible? You’ll never cultivate the strength and flexibility necessary to achieve it if you don’t start working on it. Your dream job? The life you want to live? It works the exact same way… so stop worrying about if you fall down at first and just try it again and again until it sticks!


Be Patient

You can NOT force your body to open into a pose before it’s ready. Either you’ll fail miserably or you’ll hurt yourself trying. You have to work up to poses through warming up each practice session, and some poses take a lifetime. Life is the same way — force almost never gets you closer to your goal.

There’s Always More to Learn

As soon as I think I’ve mastered a pose, my teacher comes along and makes an adjustment that changes everything. This is the nature of the yoga poses, and it’s also the nature of life. There’s always another lesson to learn, new places to explore, a new challenge to meet if you just look closely enough (or enlist someone with a keen eye to point it out).

Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

Beginners usually go all out for every pose, attempting the most difficult degree of every pose. More advanced practitioners are not more advanced because they can do more challenging poses — they’re more advanced because they have the wisdom and intelligence to know when to back off. In your life, you CAN juggle 1,000 things at once, a high-stress job, family, volunteer work, friend, etc… but that doesn’t mean you should. Take on only what you can do intelligently and with grace.

Only You Can Make Sound Decisions for Yourself

In a yoga class, your teacher is there to guide you and offer suggestions. But no matter how many teacher trainings she’s completed, she doesn’t live in your body and she doesn’t feel what you feel. For this reason, YOU are the only one who can really make sound decisions for yourself. Trust your judgment, do what feels right, and you can never go wrong.

Check out Erica Rodefer’s Web site SpoiledYogi.com.

Article courtesy of Beliefnet.com. Beliefnet offers daily inspiration with news articles on faith, religion, politics, health, family entertainment, sustainable living and more.