Today I got on my mat and practiced some yoga.
I’ve been practicing yoga for about 16 years now and sometimes I wonder what keeps me coming back. There are days when it’s tougher to get on to my mat than others. I do know that I always feel so much better when I get on it, than not.
It is said that your mat is a reflection, a way to look inside yourself.
All you hold inside yourself can surface on your mat.
I’ve experienced this phenomena more times than I can remember….some days feeling joyous at a new discovery, or just happy to be alive and healthy; some days falling to my knees in tears.
I believe that’s what keeps me coming back; the need to discover and explore. But, it’s not always easy to take that first step.
The other night I was watching a true story on the Discovery Channel about two war heroes whose plane went down into the ocean while on a routine search and rescue mission.
Out of the 11 men on board, only 3 survived the crash. They floated on a two life rafts for 47 days. They subsisted on little water (mostly rain water they caught,) no food other than what they managed to catch, got attacked by a Japanese fighter plane and nearly died of dehydration and starvation. Not to mention being surrounded constantly by sharks.
One didn’t make it.
The other two finally found an island and managed to row towards it, but not before fighting through a terrific storm. Once they got to the island, they suddenly realized it was occupied by the Japanese, and they were captured and became prisoners of war. Both men survived the concentration camp and made it out alive.
I wondered how they could not absolutely give up after being through those 47 days, and (just when you think the suffering will end) ending up in a prisoner of war camp. That takes a tremendous amount of determination and strength.
I was amazed by this story of survival and commitment.
Commitment to life.
That’s what keeps bringing me back to my mat.
My commitment to improve my life.
To live my life to the fullest.
To face those things within myself that need changing, or need loving kindness; a way to open my heart and accept; to find a better way.
My mat is my haven, my sanctuary, my safe place. My yoga practice has carried me through many of life’s ups and downs like that raft floating on the ocean. It has been my refuge through the storms.
I’ve often marveled at the teachers I have studied with who have been practicing yoga since the 70’s and 80’s. They are still going strong. I’ve had the honor to study with these masters, and they have an aura of calmness to them that I know comes from practicing yoga.
It’s what I want.
So I get on my mat day after day, month after month, year after year breathing, sweating and moving into myself.
Most often, I practice in my home studio where I can be in my own space.
Sometimes it’s my yoga family that gets me on to my mat. There are two classes that I take on a regular basis, and it’s not so much the practice that gets me there, (although I love ashtanga yoga,) it’s my yoga family who I practice with that keeps me coming back. We are a group of “over 50” ladies who rock it out in class. It’s such an inspiration for me to practice with these ladies.
There is another friend, who fell off a roof while working, broke both ankles among other injuries and was back to practice within a year. He and I started practicing in the same classes years ago when yoga wasn’t quite as popular as it is now.
These are the people who hold me up and bring me on my mat when my own courage is lacking. I feel so much lighter the minute I walk into the room and see their faces. And yes, yoga will keep you looking and feeling younger!
So tomorrow is another day. Another day to get on my mat. Another day to discover and feel. Another day to breathe.
What keeps you coming back?
Gloria is a certified personal trainer with NASM, a certified spin instructor, and a registered yoga teacher through the Yoga Alliance. She’s taught yoga since 2000 and primarily teaches vinyasa and ashtanga yoga; all levels of students. She’s also taught private lessons, partner yoga, teacher training programs and other workshops. If you have specific questions you don’t want to ask here you can contact her by email: firstname.lastname@example.org