Confession: I’m a HUGE nerd. No, really – I love school, which is really quite fortunate as I’m currently set up to be in school for a good portion of the next decade. As a school psychology graduate student and law student, I’ve found that with school comes stress and for that reason, I am so thankful for my yoga practice. But whether you’re spending your days at school or work, integrating yoga into your daily life doesn’t have to be limited to finding time to spend on the mat.
1) Be Present
Education is awesome. I know that sounds silly, but so often as students we become tired of our day-to-day routine. Sitting in class or sitting in an office may feel mundane at times, but passing our time by sitting on Facebook or Pinterest during class does nothing but detract from our learning experience. School, like yoga, like everything else in life, will give you exactly what you put into it. I’m incredibly guilty of finding myself distracted by emails or online shopping when a lecture starts to drag, but it’s been a goal of mine this school year to be as present as possible during class time so that I’m able to actively contribute and am able to take away everything that each class has to offer.
2) Appreciate The Contributions Of Others
Some of my favorite classes have been seminar style classes where all members of the class are able to actively contribute. In education, specifically higher education, students often come from diverse backgrounds and bring unique perspectives to the classroom setting. In yoga, “Namaste” roughly translates to, “The divine in me honors the divine in you.” Bringing this mindset into the classroom setting can allow us to learn not only from our teachers or professors and our textbooks, but also from those that we are fortunate enough to be sharing our learning experience with.
3) Be Willing To Take On New Challenges
I am thoroughly convinced that I will eventually be able to float into a perfect headstand. For now, my tendency to fall flat on my back (or into the wall), remains pretty strong. But I’m still determined to keep working for it and I’m certain that you have your personal goals in your own practice that may prove challenging, but that you’re willing to continue to work toward. As I said before, school will give you exactly what you put into it. The idea of passing up new opportunities because these new opportunities might make your calendar a little bit more crammed than you like may be tempting, but more often than not you’ll be glad that you challenged yourself. New challenges may open up new doors and may provide you an educational experience totally different than that of someone who does the bare minimum. Take that hard class, or sign up for extra hours in your research lab. One of my favorite quotes comes from T.S. Eliot, “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” Go for it.
4) Refuse To Take Your Education For Granted
This semester, I am fortunate enough to be enrolled in a law school course entitled, “International Human Rights.” This course has the unique ability to shake me each time I attend it; to leave me unsettled and uneasy. It does this because it sheds light on the incredible inequalities that exist worldwide. I may get bogged down sometimes by school and research and may wish that I had more free time, but this class always puts in perspective how fortunate I am to be able to receive an education. Often it baffles me, and makes me feel guilty, that this right came to me only by chance of my birth. I was born in the United States; education is available and expected. But so many children and adults in other countries do not have the same access to education that we are fortunate enough to have. While we should all make an effort to learn more about international education and what we can do to aid those who have access to fewer opportunities and resources that we do, we should also be certain that we never take our access to education for granted. For so many years, I griped and groaned about the amount of reading I had to do, or having to stay in on a weekend to write a paper. How trivial those things seem now. Let us never take opportunity for granted.
5) Share What You Know
Having grown up in North Carolina, I’ve recently seen a number of changes in recent years in regards to public education. The salary of North Carolina teachers ranks 46th in the United States and budget cuts and new legislation continue to hit public schools at every level very hard. I can pinpoint the teachers that I have had throughout my life that guided me to exactly where I am today. I’ve had wonderful teachers who care, who push and challenge their students, and who inspired me to keep learning – for that, I am eternally grateful. Having the ability to teach others, to share your experiences and knowledge, is valuable and can be such a wonderful gift to those around you. Just because you’re a student doesn’t mean that you can’t enhance the learning experience of others. If you’re passionate about something, share it with others. Whether it’s yoga, art, finance, athletics – whatever your skillset, don’t be afraid to invite others to learn alongside you. "The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery." -Mark Van Doren
Go out and do big things, yogi.