In the past month, I’ve witnessed a lot of exciting things happen to those around me.
My friend Jess launched a company; my friends Meg and Matt were just on Shark Tank (watch the episode, and don’t blink because you’ll miss me and Willow!); my boyfriend’s band is jumping into the local music scene.
I am so honored and proud to watch my friends go after their passions without apology. I like to consider myself “one of them” by living my passion through Happy Momentum.
So when I was asked recently about how things were going in my life, why did I catch myself saying, “Oh, you know, the same.”
It brought me back to a moment three years ago when I just started yoga teacher training. During one of our check-in meetings at my job, my then-supervisor said, “You seem… different. More calm.”
I felt the curl of a smile and unthinkingly replied, “That’s yoga.”
Sometimes when we’re spinning our wheels, it takes others to remind us of our progress (or to nudge us to the nearest 7-Eleven in order to fill up a flat tire).
Until that conversation with my boss, I hadn’t noticed how much yoga was transforming me. Inside, I still felt like a hot mess of emotions, at times struggling to get through each day and get home to my little dog and the yoga mat.
But here was external evidence that yoga was helping me to show up differently while living through the same circumstances.
In other words, your surroundings don’t have to change in order for you to. (tweet it if you believe it)
It’s like I recently wrote on the Grow Soul Beautiful blog (read the post here):
“Some days, everything seems stacked against us and the present moment, which is to say: us and peace. The seasons, the stars, our genetics, our relationships, our jobs, our lack of a six-pack—we spend a lot of time blaming exterior causes for our interior lives.
But do you know the greatest obstacle of all?
Go with the flow
When I recently opted to voice the “sameness” (who doesn’t do this, no matter how awesome your life is?), I started to wonder what was making me feel stuck.
The answer is simple: I’m blind to my progress. You better believe this goes along with being an over-achiever!
It’s common for us to see the successes of others and be oblivious to our own, especially when we compare those successes.
Consider a jar of coconut oil. Because I don’t have central air, in the fall the coconut oil solidifies, returning to its opaque state after a summer spent in liquid.
Coconut oil doesn’t question why it becomes a liquid or a solid. It just does, without question, depending on the temperature.
But people? We question. We second guess. We compare. If we’re solid, we want to be liquid, and if we’re liquid we want to be solid.
And then, if we finally get over the desire to be anything other than what we are, we often fail to acknowledge that progress. We’d be a lot happier if we could learn to seamlessly flow through the seasons of our success.
Seeing the change
I used to have a dream where I would jump forward, as if with rubbery knees, and fly in the air about 10 stories until some unseen force would bar my progress. I never could get past the invisible barrier—I’d always land back where I started.
In my dream, I failed to see that I was flying because I was so hung up on not flying freely. I missed the fun of momentary flight because I kept getting grounded.
How many of your life’s triumphs do you miss because you’re focused on what you think those triumphs should be?
In the midst of uncertainty, one thing we can be certain about is that we should never take our moments of flight for granted. Even though it may feel like things are staying the same, incrementally, they’re changing. You’re changing. And that’s what practicing yoga helps us to recognize.
Notice those small wins when your spine feels free and you twist deeper than before. Notice when your hamstrings loosen so you can plant your palms flat on the floor. Notice the fact that you came to your mat at all, despite your schedule and your mood. That itself can be a huge win.
Success comes with time. What we don’t see when we notice others’ successes is how gosh darn hard they’ve worked to get to that point. It’s the same with your yoga practice.
Put in the time. Reap the rewards.
You’ll soon find that yoga doesn’t change you… until it does.
Try this: Half Spinal Twist, Ardha Matsyendrasana Variation
Spinal twists teach patience and perseverance and just plain feel great. Whenever I’m in a blah mood or feel like my life is more of the “same” I twist it up.
In this posture, focus on twisting the entire spine from low to high. For this variation, keep one leg straight on the mat in order to fully focus on twisting the upper body without getting discouraged about any possible hip tightness.
- Sit with both legs straight on the mat. Bend the left knee and plant the foot on the other side of your right thigh, pressing down evenly through the entire underside of the foot.
- Firm your right leg down into the mat, settling evenly onto your sit bones. Flex the right toes toward your face and hug your left knee toward your torso until you feel a stretch begin in the left hip.
- Plant the left palm a foot behind you and loosen into the shoulder and elbow. Inhale, lift your right arm to the ceiling and, exhaling, twist to the left, placing your right elbow on the outside of the left knee.
- Inhale from the base your spine, lengthening the torso, and exhale twisting deeper. Your gaze may be straight ahead or, if it’s comfortable, turn your chin over your left. Relax the shoulders away from the ears. Stay for six deep breaths, inhaling to lengthen and exhaling to deepen the twist.
- On an exhale, release the twist and come back to center. Unwind your left leg and straighten it in front of you. Repeat on the right side.
Tell me: How do you celebrate your yoga progress and success, no matter how small?