Love Letters, Yogalicious

The Beautiful Cycle of Yoga and Gratitude

I’m so damn grateful for yoga.  And yoga makes me so damn grateful for EVERYTHING.  It’s a beautiful and endless cycle of yoga leading to gratitude leading to more yoga, and so on.  It’s yoga-rific, man.

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A year ago I was in a bad place- anxiety and fear were running the show, and I felt sick to my stomach all day long.  They say your gut is your second brain (who are “they?”), so when one is off, the other is off, and so on.  It’s a horrible and endless cycle.  NOT yoga-rific, man.

I’m in a much better place today, and when my stomach hurts it’s from too much hummus (worth it), not from fear.  While I’ve worked really hard on every area of my life to get here, one of the biggest factors has been yoga.

Yesterday I had an amazing yoga class, and I found myself able to do a balance pose that I’ve never done before, and certainly didn’t think I’d be capable of.  But suddenly there I was; on one foot, hands off the ground, bending and twisting and NOT FALLING!  It felt like my physical stability was a giant metaphor for how far I’ve come from that place of fear.

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On Saturdays, I love practicing in this beautiful outdoor courtyard; under the sky and the trees, listening to roosters and wind and street vendors, feeling the sun and the breeze.  Every time I lie on my mat in that courtyard I am OVERWHELMED with gratitude- for the moment, the setting, the movement, the LIFE I’m so unbelievably lucky to be living.  I remember the times I’ve been afraid and unable to feel joy, and I just breathe in all the goodness surrounding me, trying to make up for lost time.

Yoga is like a true friend.  A friend who doesn’t judge me on days I need to modify my side plank, doesn’t laugh when my legs are shaking in boat pose, and never turns its back on me for missing a day, or a week, or a month.  All yoga wants is for me to feel good, and as long as I show up to my mat, and to my life, it welcomes me with open, loving arms.  When I’m in a tough pose and thinking that yoga is being a bitch today, yoga just smiles and waits, knowing that once my practice is complete for the day I’ll love it for making me stronger; both mentally and physically.  Yoga reminds me to breathe, and to be kind to myself, and to value the moment I’m in.  When I need a strong reminder of these things, yoga literally knocks me off my feet, and lets me laugh about it.  And then yoga is still there when I get back up and try again.

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They say that what happens on your mat is reflective of what happens off the mat.  (Still don’t know who “they” are, but as they have been valuable contributors to this post, I thank “them.”)  I totally agree.  When my life is out of balance, I can’t stand on one foot.  I can barely stand on two.  When my yoga practice reminds me to breathe, I find myself breathing more deeply and effectively all day long.  And when yoga reminds me to feel grateful, I am so filled up with gratitude that I have no choice but to let it spill out, leaving colorful stains all over the fabric of my life.

There are still a lot (A LOT) of poses I would like to master.  I want to have better balance, be more comfortable upside down, strengthen my core.  These goals apply to life on and off the mat, and I’m psyched to work toward achieving them.

Sidebar…this post is not about yoga as a weight loss tool, but I won’t lie and say I don’t also want to tighten up and look like this:

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Because, damn.  On so many levels.

Ok, back to it.  Included on my long list of things I’m grateful for, I can quite honestly say I’m grateful for YOU.  You, who took the time to read my words, whether they resonate with you or not.  I hope you have something in your life- yoga, running, meditating, reading, hiking, cooking, whatever- that forces you into the moment and allows you to feel gratitude and joy.  I’d love to hear what that is for you.

Loving you lots, Starfish!


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