5 Essential Life Lessons From My Yoga Classes

5 Essential Life Lessons From My Yoga Classes 1

Yoga is more than just the physical practice. The more I stay with my yoga practice, the more amazed I am at how many life lessons I keep learning here, right on my yoga mat.

We all should be a positive force in our life, energizing all who come in touch with us. We need to remain this way, not because life is presenting us with the best and ideal opportunities but because our attitude is the best, which helps us extract the utmost from the situations presented to us. Yoga shows us the way.

Yoga is indeed a great teacher and out of the many life lessons that it has taught me, here are 5 essential ones that we can use every day to help us view things with a more positive perspective.

Life is as hard as we make it- Belief

Over the years, while on my yoga mat and attempting a new posture, whenever I have feared the posture and been doubtful of making headway with it, that’s precisely what has happened – it has been impossible to improve in that posture. Conversely, when attempting a new pose with grit and a charged mind, I have been successful. I have tried to extend this lesson to my daily life. The way we think and act in a situation can either improve it or make it worse. If we keep thinking that life is hard and we are never going to be successful then that is what will play out for us. The reason is that we have already given up on ourselves at the outset.

If we feel we are slipping into a negative loop of self-doubt we should mentally call for a “time-out” to do a simple breathing meditation which can help in regaining focus, energy and balance.


We can do this meditation by closing our eyes and taking slow, long, and deep breaths. These deep breaths change our mood, push away self-doubt, settle our troubled mind and body and connect us with the strength within us. So, simple deep relaxed breathing aids in the intake of huge amounts of oxygen and pranic energy ( life force), it helps in letting go of stress and clearing out the toxins in our mind and body.

We must allow ourselves to let go of negative thoughts. The choice to be positive is ours.

Try and try until you succeed- Persistence

We all know this too well. On our yoga mats, we get to learn the lesson of being persistent.

When we doggedly work on a posture, say a balancing pose, we begin to get more steady with it – As the practice continues, we fall out of the posture less, the mind wavers less, the required muscles remain activated, every part of the body seems to cooperate to hold itself without stumbling.

In life too, things will rarely work out according to plan, but that does not mean we should give up in the first or second or third or even fourth try. The lesson of “persistence” learned on the yoga mat should now be translated into our life scenario.

Focus on the journey, not the destination- Explore

All yoga practitioners soon realize that many postures take years to achieve. So if we’re planning to celebrate only the achievement of the posture then we have a very long wait. Yogis have internalized that the journey should be enjoyed because that’s what we’re doing on a daily basis “journeying ahead”, practicing, improving, and learning ! And when we release the tension of having to achieve a posture, it will come to us suddenly in its own time.

It’s when we let go of the idea of accomplishment, that we will be able to actually accomplish anything. The Shavasana or Dead Man’s Pose is one of the most beautiful yoga poses which unfolds this concept of “letting go.”

Shavasana or dead man's pose

Let us go through the steps of the pose-

  • Lie flat on your back with your legs slightly apart and toes falling sideways.
  • Keep your arms by your side but away from your body. Face your palms upwards with fingers gently curled.
  • Rest your head on the floor with your chin slightly tucked into the chest so the neck lies flat on the floor.
  • Relax, close your eyes, and take three deep, slow breaths. Begin concentrating on every part of your body, naming each part as you go up from your toes to the head. Tell each body part to release, let go, and relax completely.
  • Remember to completely soften the muscles, tendons, ligaments, organs of each body part before moving ahead. Breath normally, and with each exhale imagine the stress and fatigue leaving your body.
  • After naming each body part, focus on the center of your heart and feel a lightness in the chest.
  • Observe your chest gently heaving up and down, and stay there for a while.

We must remember that there is a deeper realization hidden behind every yoga pose. In these poses lie the absolute ability to bring healing and deeper awareness and calmness.

Life is one big journey and the finish line is far from the high point.

Treat Everyone Equally – Patience

Yoga is for all. Whether we are a beginner or a seasoned practitioner yoga is not biased.

There are instances when we could be practicing next to the most experienced person, who can get into any pose with the utmost ease. We might feel embarrassed and impatient at our incompetence. But we need to remind ourselves that this person was also at our level one day. We need to be loving and patient with ourselves. We need to progress at our pace and compete only with our own selves. Slow and steady. As long as we are regular with our practice, the body will continue to respond and grow from strength to strength. So patience with ourselves will lead to learning to be patient with others too, in all life situations. A great virtue to inculcate.

Everyone has flaws – Acceptance

Yoga is not about the picture perfect pose or the quintessential image of excellence. Our bodies were not designed to be identical to one another and we were never born to be perfect beings. So why are we so often filled with disappointment in ourselves?

Our flaws do not disqualify us from greatness, they are actually what help us to achieve it. Whenever we start any new physical activity we may feel awkward thinking about how we may look or whether we are doing things right.

However, we should remind ourselves that we have to work through those flaws, overcome them and enjoy that amazing feeling of accomplishment that follows. Some flaws or innate limitations may remain and we learn to accept those, make modifications and continue to surge ahead.

Not being able to accept ourselves for what we are can lead to mental aberrations , anxiety, stress, or depression. This lesson is also well learned on the yoga mat. For instance, I have several students who have acute cervical spondylosis, due to which many postures are disallowed for them, postures that they can do and really enjoy doing. But they have accepted their condition and move ahead in other postures, protecting their vulnerable neck region by avoiding the forbidden body positions. This has taught them the amazing lessons of humility and acceptance.

To sum up – Yoga, which means “union” works through postures and leads our bodies to a magnificent union between mind body breath and spirit in a fluid alignment.Keeping in mind these life lessons will help us find the calmness and poise in our daily struggles.

Namaskaar !

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