Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Off the Mat: Inner Peace

Many people don't understand that yoga is so much more than just a form of exercise; it is a way of life.  The practice of yoga is more about the art of meditation than the physical flow of postures.  Despite the often muscle quivering challenge of the poses, the yogi focuses not on the pain, but on the steady rhythm of breath flowing in and out of the body.  Practicing yoga off the mat is not about shutting oneself into a quiet room, but about standing in the midst of the noise and clutter of the world and being able to tap into the calm that comes from within.  

When I first began practicing yoga, I found that the changes in my heart were so much greater than the changes in my body.  At the time, I was working in the physically demanding, stressful, and fast paced environment of the restaurant industry.  Yoga taught me to take things as they come and accept that many factors are out of my control.  These were difficult, but necessary lessons for my stubborn type A personality.  The peace in my heart made the pace of activity at the restaurant seem to slow down.  I was suddenly able to process things more effectively and react more quickly.  

The practice of yoga in my everyday life has never been more useful to me than it is now.  The physical and emotional demands of being a new mother would have been so much more difficult without my yoga background.  From managing the pain of labor, to sleep deprivation, to the frustration of an inconsolable baby, to the many challenges of breast feeding, yoga has given me the inner strength to face the challenges of motherhood.  Just when I feel like I have reached my limit, I take a few slow deep breaths and I find that I have more to give.  

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