Monday, September 27, 2010

Off the Mat, Into the World

As much as I prefer yoga to other forms of exercise, I still can not help but take a peek at the clock during some practices and think to myself, “If I had gone for a run instead, I’d be done by now.” Done to do what? Does it matter? Whatever it might be must be a lot more enjoyable than fighting with my body to stay calm and focused in tough poses, or at least already over by now.
For that matter, as much as I love yoga in general, I sometimes think I'd rather be doing anything else, even sleeping. When my thoughts start to head in that direction, another part of my brain kicks in and I remember that it’s actually because I am having those thoughts and having to deal with those thoughts that I need to be in downward dog pose in the first place.

That’s part of the reason why yoga is bootcamp for the brain. Not only do I have to push my body to its limits, this exercise is centered on forcing me to have to think at the same time, look within, confront and manage those feelings, act and look calm when I feel anything but, breathe deeply when I might prefer to get angry because of the challenge, avoid comparing myself to others, focus when all I want to do is let loose, be patient when I am ready to change the time on the clock myself, forgive myself for not being able to keep up and do all of this while someone else is telling me what to think about.  Heck yeah!!! Where do I sign up?

Those sound like valuable life skills to have, right? Next step: taking those lessons off the mat and into the world. Turns out someone else already thought of that too.  Check out OFF THE MAT INTO THE WORLD, an empowering non-profit organization dedicated to “using the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and ignite grassroots social change.”  They help empower people through leadership trainings and community events and by organizing local and global service projects.  It’s one example of how there can be more to yoga than just doing a body good. The heaviest grit of the practice is taking the training and lessons learned on the mat off the mat and into one's own life.

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