Discipline Found: How Yoga Looks Like a Workout, but Actually is a Game Changer

Have you ever been in line at the post office or grocery store and had the person behind you freaking out, making faces, shifting their weight from one foot to the other, and muttering under their breath at the time that it was taking for each person’s needs to be met?  Or have you sat next to someone at the movies or a lecture and noticed that they could not for the life of them sit still, crossing and then re-crossing their legs, grabbing for a piece of gum, and shifting from hip to hip?  Or maybe you have a friend that even if you tell them to meet you half an hour earlier than needed for lunch or for a long walk, is still predictably late?

Do you know what all of these people have in common?  No yoga.  No meditation.  No discipline.  Every time I encounter one of these situations I give thanks to my regular yoga and meditation practice, glad that I get to witness the crazy instead of being a part of it.  Anyone that has a regular practice has been in situations such as these, and in turn started to talk about yoga and how it would be great if a friend or family member that seems stressed and on edge would just love it.  “Want to come to yoga with me?” is something that has come out of my mouth for years slipped into conversation with people, as I know that it has brought a peace and discipline into my everyday life that nothing else has.  Sometimes it’s worked and sometimes it hasn’t.  I have friends and family that have established a regular practice and then I have friends and family that took a couple of classes and it never really clicked with them.  It always surprises me who falls in love with it and who goes running for doors.  It’s tough stuff, especially in the Bikram traditional hatha yoga 90-minute or 60-minute class where you are, in fact, watching yourself suffer, sweat, and stretch in the mirrors in front of you.

Over the last 10 years, this yoga practice has given me more than a good workout.  It’s helped me to develop discipline in the face of life’s challenges outside of the studio in more ways than one.  If your practice lately feels like nothing is changing and there is no growth physically, which happens to all of us at times, consider the following ways the practice might be changing your patterns and thoughts to make you a more effective person throughout your day.

  1. Learning to be on time.  Have you ever gotten to the studio a few minutes late for class and found the doors locked, class already in session?  This usually only happens to a student once and then they are never late again.  There’s nothing worse than standing there in your yoga gear, ready for class, perfectly hydrated, to then have to go home.  Being on time is a big deal, not only for class, but for any appointment throughout your day.  If you are chronically late to things you are stealing time from others and creating negative energy.  Be on time – for class and for life.
  2. Becoming a better listener.  I have found that not being able to talk at all in class, makes me a better listener in the long run.  I often find myself talking too much instead of listening to those around me, but if I took yoga that day I allow others to contribute to the conversation and learn more about them and their life.  I can also sit through a lecture or seminar and not allow my mind to wander to things that have nothing to do with that moment in time, absorbing information and using it to apply to a task or everyday life.
  3. Being able to take direction. Hatha yoga helps you take information and apply it to your body while outside of your practice it then helps you take information and apply it to your life.  You see the results of your postures when you are given clear commands and follow the instructions as best you can.  This helps us to be clear when working with others on a project to get the best result possible and makes us seek clear direction from others as well.
  4. Being able to release distractions. After you’ve been practicing awhile do you notice how someone’s water bottle falls over or someone sneezes in class and you are still focused forward, on your yoga, instead of scanning the room to see where the noise came from?  You are not letting the small stuff distract you from the task at hand.  I have found that I can sit through pretty much anything without feeling the need to move around too much, adjust, or grab for something out of my purse as a direct reflection of the focus I have attained through my regular yoga practice.
  5. No shortcuts.  You can’t cheat, or cut corners, in a posture and get the benefits you showed up for.  There is no shortcut to achieving greatness in anything in life, including yoga asanas. You need to work hard and the right way in everything you do.  Whenever you take a shortcut be assured you will have to go back and correct it in the long run, in yoga and in life.
  6. Respect for the teacher & students. Everyone has their path in life and is doing the best they can on that journey.  When you realize that the person that is moaning in the corner, or fidgeting on their mat during Savasana is truly doing the best they can in the moment you won’t let it bother your practice.  In fact, you might feel compassion for what they are experiencing and send good thoughts their way. When you realize that person that is making you a little crazy outside of the studio with whatever drama they might bring your way, is also doing the best they can with whatever perceptions they have of what is going on in a given situation, you will forgive and forget with respect to their path in life. You may also start to release some of your bad habits as you come in touch with what you do to create too much tension or drama in all areas of your life.

These are some of the ways that the discipline and mental focus of a regular yoga practice has affected my life.  VFTP Readers how has it affected yours?  Join the discussion below or on the Facebook Page.

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If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy reading:

Keepin’ the Faith

Taking Your Practice Off the Mat

Be the Bean


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