So this isn't a pitch for yoga, actually. This is about, however, about a personal yoga challenge I've given myself & the lessons I've learned in my first week that will absolutely improve my fat loss, my fitness, and my mindset.
I want to share those lessons with you.
So really, this is kind of like yoga for fat loss without having to go to yoga.
Haha. I actually think yoga is a great thing for almost everyone, but my purpose in this series is to share with you lessons I'm learning in yoga that I believe can & should be applied to our food choices, our fitness, our mindset, relationships and life in general!
As I've recently shared on the podcast, after being diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroiditis and some stress-related health challenges, I'm making some changes in both my diet & lifestyle to help my body heal.
One of those changes is yoga. I am not a yogi, I do not like group exercise, but I've taken on a legitimate mental, physical and logistical challenge:
45 yoga classes in 45 days.
I'm not challenging you to do that - my journey is my journey - but I do want to share what I'm learning with you through this challenge.
I'm not necessarily taking yoga for fat loss, but I think there are incredibly powerful parallels between what you learn in yoga and the skills you need to reach your fat loss, fitness and health goals.
I'm doing it because I need to learn to slow down, to be more present, to breathe and to be gentle with my body, my mind and my heart.
Leave it to me to take something like yoga and get all intense with it, haha. 45 90-minute hot yoga classes in 45 days...yeah Elizabeth, way to take it easy...
Hey, gotta make it interesting, right? I'm a competitive person!
I've walked out of every single class so far feeling like I've learned something beyond the mat, beyond the yoga pose, and I'm planning to share those lessons with you each week for the next 45 days.
So, I'm one week into my yoga challenge and I've learned some good stuff!
At my first class, the instructor shared with the new people (I wasn't the only one) that the only goal of the first class is to stay on your mat. Don't quit and leave, don't leave the room for some cool air, just stay. It's okay to rest. It's okay to sit down or lay down, just say on your mat.
See, it’s 105 degrees in this room and your moving your body in weird, challenging and uncomfortable ways. (In front of strangers! )
You aren’t weak if you want to quit. It’s not a sign that you’re a failure that you don’t feel like doing it.
But that feeling doesn’t mean you need to leave. The desire to leave is just a desire.
Don’t react. Just stay.
How true is this in life & fat loss? It's okay to stop. It's okay to slow down. It's okay to rest.
But don't leave. Don't drift. Don't let go of your goals. You can always rest, but don't walk away. Don't leave the pursuit. Stay on your mat.
You WILL have times when you want to quit. But that doesn’t mean you need to justify ice cream or chips or cookies or alcohol.
Just stay there.
You’re on this journey. Don’t leave. Just wait.
In Bikram yoga, which is what I’ve decided to do, there are 26 poses and, in my class, we do each pose two times. As we moved into a particular posture for the second time, the instructor quietly said,
"Keep going. The maximum benefit comes at your depth"
See, she didn't want us to stop when it got uncomfortable. She didn't want us to feel the discomfort and not go past it.
The maximum benefit, the greatest growth, the fastest improvement comes when you go as far as you can.
If she hadn’t said that, I wouldn’t have looked for my depth in that pose.
I would have just done what I felt like I could, held steady when it felt uncomfortable.
But this cue from her, this comment, it sent me looking for my depth. For how far I could go. For how deep I could take it. For my limit. For my best.
How often do we stop at the point of discomfort in life? We do what we're comfortable with and give in when it gets too hard.
But that's not where we improve. That's not how things get easier. That's not the way to transformation.
Think about the times in your life when you've grown the most, learned the most or excelled the most. It probably took going beyond your comfort zone - going beyond what was easy or comfortable.
When it comes to health, food choices or fitness - where is your depth? Are you going there? Are you bringing your best effort? Where’s your limit? How far can you take it?
The maximum benefit will come at your depth.
This next one so deeply resonated with me (pun intended). It's pretty similar to the last one but so vivid. I was standing there, waiting for the instructor to declare, "change" so I could release a challenging posture.
You hold the posture, usually struggling (certainly for me as I’m brand new to this) and can release when you hear “change”
Instead of "change" she said,
"the pressure is the beginning of the posture"
She meant that instead of looking to release as soon as it gets uncomfortable, consider that the beginning. Your effort begins, your training begins, your work begins, the posture behinds when the pressure starts. That's when it begins, not when it ends.
It reminds me what Mohammad Ali said once when asked how many sit-ups he had done. He replied,
"I don't know. I didn't start counting until it hurt"
This isn't an argument for doing push-ups through the pain, but I think it has much broader applications to life and the pursuit of our goals.
Think about it - we let up when it gets too hard. When the temptations get too hard we relent. When we're tired, we give in. How about deciding that the pressure is the beginning of the work, not the end.
Temptation is the beginning of the work, not the end.
Emotion is the beginning of the work, not the end.
Someone came into the class a few minutes late. The instructor acknowledged her and said,
“there’s a space up front, just one minute”
She'd get her situated once we finished our posture.
A few seconds later the instructor said to the late lady,
“Stop trying to manage the room. Drop your mat and breathe”
We were doing the beginning breathing exercises.
I don’t think the woman knew what she meant and so the instructor said,
“Seriously! Stop trying to mange the room. That’s my job, not yours. Drop your mat, start breathing, I will get you settled in a minute”
This woman was in her head. She was thinking about where she should go, who would have to scoot around to make room for her, where she could disrupt the fewest people
And while she did that, she was missing the posture.
I loved that instruction – stop managing the room.
I know I do that too often, I try to manage the room or the situation instead of just being present in it.
I try to manage other people. I spend a lot of my time thinking about what other people will do, when, where.
I am a natural leader and so at family events, I’m in my head thinking about where people will sit – are there enough chairs? When will we eat – do we have enough for everyone? Is there a parking space for the person who isn’t here yet?
While I’m in my head managing everyone and everything, I’m missing stuff.
A lot of stuff.
We do this at work, at home. We do this when it’s none of our business.
I’ll be sitting in traffic and I see that someone is blocking an intersection when the light turns red.
They aren’t blocking me. I’m a half a dozen cars behind.
But I start thinking and worrying about the people who are at the green light and can’t get through and how frustrated the poor guy blocking the intersection must be because he can’t move.
Dude. Stop managing the room!
This cue, stop managing the room, will remind me to just be present, just do what I need to do, and not worry about what’s behind me, what’s in the future, or what anyone else is doing or should be doing.
I'm really excited about the mental & emotional lessons I'm learning on the mat & I'm excited to keep sharing them with you!
Join me at ASCEND in Nashville!
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