In a beautiful yoga class that I attended last week the teacher began the class with words that deeply resonated within me. As she led us into meditation, helping us find ourselves in the present moment she said a lil’ somethin’ like this…
“Ground down onto the mat, deep into this space. This is exactly where you are meant to be in this moment. Now, stay here, on the mat, for the next 75 minutes.. Let the world take care of itself for a while, whilst you take care of you.”
On hearing these words an inner sense of freedom began to wash over me. It was as if this was the exact permission I needed to let go of my responsibilities, my commitments, my expectations.I could leave my problems at the door, for now. I was allowed to surrender.
The next 75 minutes? They were bliss. I had never expereienced a class where I was so present. It was like I had created a special forcefield around my mat. Nothing could permeate it. I had been in my own little bubble, completely focused on my practice honouring my body, connecting with my Soul.
I left feeling light,centered & fluid, thinking to myself – “If only I could feel like THIS after every yoga session. Shit, if only I could feel like THIS all the time!”
And that’s when it hit me… Why the hell couldn’t I? If I had managed to create this divine, expansive space in my yoga class, what was stopping me from using this as a vehicle to navigate my way out in the big, wide world. Yes, I hear you girl , the “real world” isn’t exactly like a yoga class. People are pushier. We all have deadlines, commitments and responsibilities. There is traffic. None of these “first world problems” seem to exist behind the walls of a yoga studio. So of course its easy to cultivate feelings of pure bliss in this space!
But I can assure you, yoga in itself is not what creates this bliss. I practice regularly and let me tell you, honey, some classes they are just… well…shit. I leave feeling frustrated, angry & sometimes even more stressed than when I first entered the room. So clearly neither the yoga nor the studio posses an intrinsic power that puts me in a state of bliss.
The difference between the classes that leave me feeling all warm, fuzzy & divine-like and the shit ones? Its the commitment to being there on the mat for the entire class. Its the choice to be there in that space, completely present throughout the practice. When I don’t make this commitment, I find my mind wandering over to other people’s mats, comparing their practice to mine. Or judging my practice based on what happened on my mat yesterday or what I expected to happen on my mat today. Hello, shit yoga session!
I have realised bliss in yoga comes from staying on your own mat. But I am done only settling for this kind-o-bliss for 75 minutes a few times a week. So…
I have decided I am staying on my mat, for good!
No, I am not planning a life of stagnant meditation. This mat-o-mine is metaphorical!
I want to anchor down into this space of pure bliss, where I am solely concentrated on myself and my immediate surroundings, in every moment. This week I have made this my mantra. Whenever I feel myself getting too attached to my thoughts, the thoughts of others or anything in my external environment I have been gently reminding myself …
“Hey Meg, why don’t you pop back on over to your mat. It’s much nicer over there!”
And its working.!!! When I get my ass back on over to my metaphorical mat, instantly I feel grounded, expansive, present.
I know what you might be thinking. How will my problems ever sort themselves out if I keep them at the door of my yoga studio… forever? How will I ever get anything done if I simply focus on whats in front of me instead of planning and predicting?
Calm down, Beautiful! Have I got good news for you!
An extreme focus on the present does not limit us in any way. Quite the opposite actually. Extreme present moment awareness helps tap into our inner divinity – our capacity to create! Given that we only ever have the exact moment right in front of us to work with, when all our energy is focused here… magic happens.
So making the choice to stay on your mat means lots of blissful ju-ju and an enhanced capacity to create.
Well, stick a mat to my ass and call me a Yogi, cause this is where I will be staying!
Don’t know how to stay on your mat? Or can’t even find yours?
Here are a few things I have learnt through yoga that help me remain on the mat. All of these little beauties don’t have to be confined to a yoga studio, they are perfect for the “real world” too!
So here goes…
1. Focus on your breath
In yoga the breath is the focus. It guides our practice. We use the breath to centre ourselves & ground down into our bodies so that we can move more deeply and fluidly into a pose.The breath is also the strongest tool we have to cultivate present moment awareness.
In our everyday lives the role of the breath does not change. It is our life force. So focus on the breath. Allow it to centre and ground you so that you can move more deeply and fluidly into situations which may seem uncomfortable. Can you feel the breath running through you, filling your lungs and energising your cells? Yes?
Well, welcome back to the mat then, my friend.
2. Focus on your body
Similar to the breath, yogis use the sensations of their body to guide their practice. Bringing awareness without judgement to all that we see, feel, smell and hear helps to focus our attention on the mat, back on the Now. So… when you feel yourself all up in yo’ head – Stop. Look around. Listen to the sounds. Take a big whiff of your surroundings. Appreciate it all. In a world that is pretty much go-go-go, rarely do we really use our senses to inform our feelings. So get out of yo’ head and into your body – it’s a sure-fire way to get back on the mat.
3. Practice Self-Compassion
On the mat, the body is boss. If our hamstrings are screaming out in pain, we don’t go all “mind over matter” on that shit. We listen. We accept our body’s limits. We retreat to child’s pose. This is the practice of Ahimsa, which in Sanskrit means “do not injure”. Yogis carry out this practice by showing themselves the utmost compassion. They do not attach to the yearnings of the ego, which can often sound a little something like this…
“Why the hell did you pull up?… You were this close to nailing the standing splits!!!”
Instead Yogis listen to their bodies, understanding that it knows best. The Yogi does not worry about what was achieved yesterday or what they hoped to achieve today. It is all about what the body is capable of right now, and the yogi accepts whatever this is completely.
So, Be kind to yourself. Release all expectations. Honour yourself for simply showing up.
You are already enough!
So beautiful people, you don’t need to be able to do this to experience the inner bliss of a Yogi. You just gotta get yo’ ass on that metaphorical mat of yours, Baby. And start living!
Would love to hear how you go with these little tricks or if you have any of your own that help you stay on your mat. Share with me below! Would love to connect.
Image via Xanga