10 Lessons I Learned From 10 Years of Yoga

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Alignment, postures—those physical aha moments that happen in class—are exciting because it’s not often we get to experience and feel something new. No matter how small or large the sensation or movement, when it happens and the lightbulb flicks on it’s like a part of the body that was previously untouched by the mind comes to life, and we can begin to see, notice, and connect to something new within the old, familiar vessel that we’ve been walking through life in. 

That’s exciting!

But for me, the most moving aspect of taking a yoga class is the possibility of hearing something life changing. Every now and then, there is a magical sprinkling of perspective, of soul-opening aha moments, tidbits of anecdotes, and grand life lessons spoken in minimal words that are eloquently and almost sneakily woven in by great teachers. It's the simple teachings left hanging in the air that creep in, that keep me both grounded and striving to go deeper, on and off the mat. 

My 10 Best Life Lessons From Yoga Classes

1. You always have this moment.
No matter how many thoughts may be tornado-ing around the space within your skull, no matter how many things may feel as though they are collapsing around you in life, remember that you will always have here—this moment or this Child’s Pose—to slow, to stop, to lay, and to breathe.

2. You will always be supported.
When it feels too hard to hold yourself up, to keep going and trying, give the effort over: Let the ground underneath hold you. Know that you will always be supported, that the earth beneath cannot help but to hold up your bones, skin, heavy thoughts... You.

3. Each breath is a new beginning.
Brand new. It’s your chance to start again—fresh—and it’s you who gets to choose what you bring in.

4. An exhale is an opportunity to release.
You also get to choose what to let go of with every exhale. With every single one, you have an opportunity to release what no longer serves you. How beautiful is that?

5. Trust that you—your body—can.
It carries you all day, takes in the good, and deals with the bad. It’s always there working for you, ever-strong, even when you don’t notice. Can you trust that it knows how to carry you? Trust in its strength and its ability to balance you. Let the mind step back, and allow for space to surprise yourself.

6. Surrendering is powerful.
When people speak of surrender, it is often associated with weakness, giving up, or a loss of strength; in fact, surrendering is one of the most powerful things on Earth you can do. It means to become one with. Look what happened when Romeo told Juliet to surrender to love: It birthed a great love, an untouchably powerful force. So, when you surrender to an experience, you become part of something profound.

7. We are blessed to be present.
Stay—be here one more second. Take one more breath, because you can. Not everyone has that blessing. So, rejoice, do, breathe, for those who no longer have that gift.

8. It's OK to shake and wobble.
Let your body move. The worst that can happen is that you fall for a moment to a ground that’s not very far.

9. Embrace the moment with movement.
Finding balance and staying balanced does not mean being frozen or holding still. If you find yourself holding on to, squeezing, or clinging, know that—in the long run—it can’t sustain you. Even the sturdiest buildings can’t stand strong without some movement. The greatest ships still must move with the waves of the ocean. You, too, in order to stand strong and sturdy, must breathe into the experience, into the shape, and into where you are.

10. Only you can live out your experience—you know yourself best.
No boss, no teacher, and no scholar, can ever know you better than you know yourself. You are an expert in this body, and no one else on the planet, or in history for that matter, can live out your experience. Only you have been presented the gift of this unique life, these unique dreams and feelings. Only you can cherish it.

What are your favorite lessons from yoga? Share in the comments below!


Alananychalf

Alana, a Los Angeles native, moved to NYC in 2011. As a graduate of NYU with a degree in Psychology, and a dedicated yoga student and instructor, Alana has melded her passions, academic interests, and physical background into a unique approach to ...READ MORE