(This is the last week of a 5-week series.
Here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4)
Last week I talked about how to use a high-level pose to keep your practice interesting and challenging. It's important to push yourself, but of course not so much that you end up with an injury. It's all about creating balance between deeper understanding of the poses you know well and continuing to learn and expand your practice. I can take the most basic level 1 class and never get bored because there is always more to learn, even in what seem like the simplest poses. You can always go deeper, if you want to.
Through a daily yoga practice, you can develop the ability to motivate your own growth, on and off the mat. For me, going to classes is great because I always get new ideas, and I am challenged to do things in a way I wouldn't necessarily do them at home. (There is also a little bit of peer pressure, especially in advanced classes, which is impossible to completely ignore and does motivate me to hold poses longer or try new things.) The motivation that's really meaningful, though, is internal. Yoga has given me a sense of self-control that carries over into other areas of my life and work.
Owning a business takes a lot of independent motivation - there's nobody telling me what to do, no deadlines, nobody's bottom line but my own. There's also nobody who would notice if I just sat on the couch and read fiction all day, so it's up to me to get my lazy ass out of bed and on the bus at 6 in the morning. I would absolutely not have been able to do this on my own 5 years ago. In fact, I had a different business 5 years ago, and it failed because I didn't do anything with it. Yoga is more than just physical exercise - it has also taught me to take responsibility for my life. I know that sounds kind of dramatic. Seriously, though, there is inner work in yoga that you don't get from many other things. People who run marathons maybe have something similar, and definitely internal martial arts or Qigong. Yoga is not the only way, but it is a path to personal growth if you want it to be.
If you've actually done the whole 5 weeks of practice, think about how it may have influenced other areas of your life. Even something as simple as having more energy or feeling more relaxed in a vague way. If you feel better after 5 weeks, think about how you might feel in a year. Keep expanding your practice, and yoga will make your life better. If you can get on your mat every day and really be present in your body, that presence and focus will carry over. Yoga is about paying attention, and there's no better way to start improving your life than to really pay attention.