Real Life Lessons from Yoga

For the past week and a half, I’ve gotten out of bed by 6:30 to do a yoga session. I feel like the “practice,” short as it has been, has given me a few things to meditate on.

The heart should lead in every pose.

I just got dumped. Yep. That sucks. But incidentally this new yoga practice, my constant trips to the gym, my family and my friends (and my mirtazapine, likely), have gotten me through Teh Brutal Suck quickly.

You see, the heart should lead in every pose. His heart wasn’t in it, mine was in but had castle-like walls built up around it. I spent most of the previous 6 months not knowing if I was actually wanted; I gave numerous “easy outs.” Clearly I knew on some level that this wasn’t going as it should.

The heart should lead in every pose. If it doesn’t, it won’t work, feel good or be productive. It will leave you in a state of confusion and pain.

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Lead with and trust your heart. Live with compassion. Your heart, though it may not seem like it at the time, will never lead you astray if you listen quietly, kindly and intently.

Everything is temporary.

There’s a part in one of my DVDs where the instructor has you hold the chair pose for what seems like forever. Your legs hurt, you’re sweating, she’s smiling and you want to cry. But you relax your face and relax your feet and sink into the pose anyway. You finally get to stand up and all that heat and muscle tension is lifted instantly.

Sometimes you have to grin and bear it with the knowledge that things will eventually let up. You’ll get to stand up and you’ll think, “Well, that wasn’t so bad.”

Thinking back over the past two years, I’ve done a lot of “grin and bear it.” My anxiety kicked up two years ago to the point where I could barely function. There were quite a few days where I couldn’t bear it. I missed work, I did a lot of work on my emotional self to get back into order. I didn’t give up. I had some good days mixed in with the bad and I think, even though it was hard, I realized things wouldn’t always suck.

Then the depression came. I could hardly believe that things could actually get better. I tried a few antidepressants and they all kicked up my stomach issues something fierce. I couldn’t see an end in sight. I missed more work, which only made me feel even more depressed and hopeless. I did a lot more work. I fought with medication, I fought with insomnia, I fought with a lot of things. Finally, I found a doctor who was willing to give me something other than an SSRI, someone who listened when I said I couldn’t handle the side effects or the uptick in anxiety.

My brain got marinated in serotonin. I started to sleep a little better. Things were looking up. And they still are. The horrible feelings of worthlessness were fading and I felt truly happy again for the first time in ages.

Everything is temporary. Good things, bad things, life and possibly even death.

Trust the Universe and know that nothing is forever. Breathe through the hard times and savor the good.

You, of anyone you know, deserve your love and affection.

Loving yourself is hard. Really. There are images everywhere, people everywhere telling you you’re not skinny enough, strong enough, rich enough, happy enough, good enough and smart enough. The list goes on.

If you take this to heart and believe what they say, you’ll never love yourself.* You’re just never going to be worthy of their affection, so why bother loving yourself?

Guess what!

Loving yourself is the key to acceptance. If you accept yourself, as a normal and flawed human being, you can disarm the negativity other people through at you. Suddenly you love yourself, so you want to eat well, you want to stay healthy, you want to be happy because you know you deserve it.

Stop calling yourself names. Be your own cheerleader, even in small things like not biting the head off a seemingly shitty customer service rep from an unnamed cable company. They’re probably doing their best too.

No one is perfect. You should approach everyone with compassion — including yourself.

During a particularly intense or difficult pose, you might think “I’m just not good at XYZ.” That’s not true though, is it? You’re putting in an effort to try. When you keep trying, you’re bound to improve and, eventually, what seemed impossible becomes possible.

Loving yourself is a journey. You have to take it on. No one can love you like you can love yourself and when you love yourself you are more able to love others.

Remember those walls I mentioned earlier? The ones surrounding my heart? They’re coming down. I know this because, for the first time in years, I was able to cry after getting my heart broken. I was able to approach this heartbreak from a place of compassion. No one likes getting dumped and no one likes to do the dumping.

And I could love myself, even if I cried. I am strong, even when I cry — possibly because I cry.

That was an interesting observation to make.

* In fact, I think America has a bad habit of telling themselves and others they’re not enough. I think this why poverty and crime are self-fulfilling prophecies in society. If you keep telling someone their scum, they’ll start believing it and that becomes an obstacle of being anything “more.” That’s a whole other blog post, though.
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5 thoughts on “Real Life Lessons from Yoga

  1. [this is good] Very happy for you and trying to relate what you’ve said to me and my situation, although different, it still applies. I need to love me! I’m still trying to wrap my veins around the heart thing, cause I’ve screwed up in too many relationships and I need to get a handle on that. But I’ve got time. anyway, back to you. Thank you for posting this. Glad you’re doing well, better than well.

    • You’ve always got time. Loving yourself is really hard work. There are so many ways you can try to sabotage yourself or a relationship.

      Many times other people, who may have good intentions, get up inside your head and make you think too much or too little about a situation. Finding a balance is difficult!

      Anyway, I’m sure you’ll get there. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you slip up, though! We’re all human and we’re allowed to make mistakes along the way. :)

  2. This is fantastic. I really needed to read this today. And I’m so happy to see how far you’ve come and to see what a strong person you are.

  3. Thanks, guys!

    I think one of the most important things I learned in therapy, which has made me much more open to learning new things in general, is that life is a constant lesson. CONSTANT! Even at work, where I am bored out of my mind every now and again, I learn something about myself or someone else.

    Sometimes it’s (another) lesson in patience. Sometimes it’s a lesson in empathy. Listening. Taking a step back from a situation so you don’t explode.

    Etc, etc.

    I was worried my post got too rambley. Thanks for making it to the end. :)

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