We’re all practicing being our best selves. That’s what yoga is about at the end of the day to me. Finding a deeper connection to your authentic self. Not your social media identity, not your work identity, not your personal identity. Just you. Whatever brought you to the mat today, whether it’s to find that 60 minutes of ‘you’ time to slow down, to take some breaths, to connect to your body, to rehab an injury, to find a deeper spiritual connection, or to get in shape for the summer, we’re all practicing with the intention to grow. That’s what makes yoga so special, it brings together a community of people from all backgrounds and motivations to practice.
This Memorial Day is a perfect time to set an intention for your next month and summer. Sure, for us New Yorkers Memorial Day is an unofficial start of summer, but technically we have a few more weeks of changing weather until the June 21st summer solstice. After a grueling winter it’s real easy to find gratitude for some warmer weather, blue skies and blooming trees, but look deeper than that. What cues can we take from the change of season? Where else can we find gratitude in ourselves? Where else can we, like the blooming trees and seasonal veggies, grow personally, physically and mentally? Each month I try to take stock on what I’m willing to let go of and grow from to embrace not only the next month with some fresh eyes, but the next chapter in life.
Change only comes from challenges. That doesn’t mean to go to an extreme and sign up for 26.2 miles tomorrow without training, it could mean something as simple as taking a new class or trying a new instructor. Medwell offers 230 classes a week. It’s daunting sometimes to try something new, especially with something as intimate as yoga practice. A quote I usually throw in my classes after or during a tough sequence is “the comfort zone is an awesome place to be and chill, but nothing ever grows there.” Usually follow up with lines about how we can all chill out, hibernate on pizza and Netflix all day (which I love and is needed), but doing that, I know I wont be growing much. It’s a comfort zone. It’s simple, if it won’t challenge you, it won’t change you. We try new things to learn new things about ourselves. This summer set an intention on challenging and taking a step forward to growth. Change is mentally tough in the beginning and easy to get discouraged, that’s the point. Change is always teaching us something new about ourselves. Whether it’s by just becoming aware of our mental and emotional reactions, if it’s negative or positive, or aware of the physical reactions of taking a more challenging class or posture in class.
This is what makes yoga so rewarding, there is always room to grow. Mentally, physically, no matter what “level” (which I’m no fan of leveling yoga) yogi you are, there is always room for growth. Take that mentality off the mat and we start approaching situations we usually dread; waiting rooms, crowded commutes, babies on airplanes, DMV (okay DMV is still tough!), into growing and learning experiences. That’s where the real benefits of yoga come through. Be open to newness, be open to change and be open to finding what brought you to yoga. Be open to growth this summer at Medwell.