Practicing Yoga Off The Mat

Practicing Yoga Off The Mat

This past week I had the opportunity to take my yoga practice off the mat and apply some of the teachings in real life.

Last Friday, I had a number of moles removed from my face and the experience has been eye opening. I wasn’t aware until now just how much I rely on external validation. Honestly, I thought I was above that! Well, after the surgery, I was highly self-conscious and didn’t want to leave the house, in fear of how others would look at me.

What I’ve learned from my yoga practice helped me get through the week as “Stitch Face” (as I was very affectionately called by a friend).

Stitch Face Selfie - Day 3

Stitch Face Selfie – Day 3

1.  I practiced acceptance and self-compassion. In yoga, there are poses that are challenging and might take a lifetime to nail. But we are called to accept where we are at on any given day, be okay with that and then let it go.

2.  Remaining present in the moment helped me immensely. Sure, I wasn’t looking my best, but day #2 after the procedure was my 35th birthday. Although I didn’t celebrate as I would have otherwise, I wasn’t going to let a bunch of stitches and puffiness ruin the fun surprises my husband had in store for me.

3.  Patience…it really is a virtue, huh?! We cultivate patience for our body and mind through yoga. It was going to take time for me to heal. The stitches were going to be in for a week and I just needed to be patient and wait it out. Wanting them out was not going to make time go by any faster.

4.  Breathe! When I started feeling anxious about how I looked, I brought my attention to my breath and slowed it down. That brief pause reminded me that having stitches in my face didn’t define me, and that if someone was judging me, that wasn’t my problem.

5.  This too shall pass. What we’re going through at any moment is temporary, as everything is in life. There will be days that we can easily float into a headstand and may come a time when we’re no longer physically able. When I’d think about the temporary nature of the stitches, I felt compassion towards those people who go through their entire lives with ailments and deformities that never go away. It made me feel a bit silly for giving so much energy to thinking about something so temporary.

I experienced a great deal of kindness this past week from so many people, including y’all. As the days went on, I realized that my outward appearance isn’t what people actually see or notice.

The most positive takeaway from this past week has been witnessing firsthand how a yoga practice goes way beyond the yoga mat and extends into all aspects of life.

How do you use your yoga practice in the real world? I’d love to know! Post a comment below.