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Lessons From the Yoga Mat

Updated on February 1, 2020
Alyssa Nichol profile image

Alyssa has a passion for fitness and sharing her favorite tips and tricks with the world. Alyssa is a wife, mom, and coffee enthusiast.

I first discovered the joy of yoga eighteen years ago. Every morning that summer I would get up at 6:50 am just to join Steve Ross and his crew shake and stretch to awesome hits. Once school started in the fall, I was unable to keep up my habit. Over the years, I found myself practicing yoga on and off, but I never committed to a daily practice.

At the ripe old age of 26, I threw my back out doing a simple task in preparation for moving. Plagued with low back pain, I sought relief in the form of YouTube exercise and physical therapy videos. My search led me to Adriene Mishler's channel, Yoga With Adriene. It was love at first cat cow.

As my own fitness journey grew, I found myself creating an Instagram account. While my initial reasoning for returning to this social media platform was not exercise related, I ended up inadvertently creating a fitness account. Fast forward three years and yoga has become a part of my daily routine. I like to put a music playlist on and just move on the mat, listening to my body and allowing the rhythm to inspire my flow. In addition to that, I regularly participate in, and occasionally host, yoga challenges on Instagram. It isn't often that I seek guided practices anymore, with the exception of Adriene's annual 30 day yoga journey.

Every January, Adriene hosts a month long yoga special. I look forward to it every year because it helps remind me why I get on my mat in the first place. It's easy to get caught up in taking a perfect photo for Instagram or to only do a certain pose because a challenge calls for it. Sometimes I get so involved in my online presence that I forget my time on the mat is first and foremost for myself. Adriene's 30 days of yoga series helps ground me and sets the right tone for the new year. Each edition has a different theme and the best part is that it's all available on YouTube for free.

Every time I participate, I write down the things I learned. Some are inspired by the day's practice, others I have to dig deep for, but they all apply to life both on and off the mat.

The following are the lessons I learned from this year's 30 day practice.

Home - A 30 Day Yoga Journey

1. Slowing down is difficult, especially when the body craves more intense movement.

2. Sitting still isn't always feasible and can be a real challenge at times.

3. How we speak to ourselves is important, both on and off the mat.

4. Move with intention.

5. The breath comes first.

6. Activation is part of the awakening process.

Working on shoulder flexibility with a flipped grip in tiger pose.
Working on shoulder flexibility with a flipped grip in tiger pose.

7. The mat is a mirror.

8. Acknowledge the thoughts that come up, the events that happened which have thrown you off, and then return to the breath, to your healthy habits.

9. Savor each moment.

A tree pose variation I've been working on.
A tree pose variation I've been working on.

10. Everything is as it should be.

11. The path to balance lies in the undoing.

12. Listen.

Enjoying the sunshine and focusing on breath work in this camel pose variation.
Enjoying the sunshine and focusing on breath work in this camel pose variation.

13. Balance is my natural state.

14. Where attention goes, energy flows.

15. Keep what makes you happy. Let go of what doesn't serve you.

16. How you move matters.

17. Sometimes a practice won't present a lesson. That's okay.

18. Every day you come to the mat will be different.

19. Accept where you are today.

20. Don't decide where it ends.

"Inhale" yoga with Steve Ross, 2010-04-09


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