Early in my yoga practice, I thought lunges were the worst. Of course, my teachers made them part of the sequence every time. I had a hard time balancing and keeping the hip of my front leg back. I would breathe through it, feeling fiery and frustrated inside, just waiting for the moment that I could stretch back to down dog and find relief. Later, when life events made me feel that same fiery impatience, I would recall being hunched over on my mat, breathing through one of those awkward lunges. My breath would even out, and I stayed calm until circumstances changed. This was my first indication that time spent on the yoga mat is practice for everything.
Yoga reflects all the highs and lows of everyday life, from the frustration of an uncomfortable lunge to the exhilaration of your first handstand.
Last week my yoga teacher reminded me of a favorite saying: “Practice and all things will come.” If you show up to practice yoga, you will grow as a result of your efforts. It’s the same way in everyday life. If you work at something, you will yield results, no matter who you are or how much talent you do or don’t have. I once heard a writer speak about this phenomenon. He claimed he hadn’t been the most talented writer in his creative writing classes, but he had gone on to publish several books because he was stubborn. He sat down to write every day, no matter what, while his more talented classmates neglected to put in the time. Michael Jordan got creamed on the court as a kid, so he practiced on his own and eventually became the greatest basketball player of all time. You get on the mat and do forward bends every day, eventually you start to feel looser in the back of your legs. In that way, everything we do in life is like yoga—you put time in, and you change because of your efforts. In yoga, you learn patience and humility. You grow more confident. Does that mean yoga=life? I think it does.