July 2 | The Lifestyle |
Taylor Graham is a YogaSix student and a writer. She regularly contributes to our blog and back in February, she shared the beginning of her yoga journey with us right before she participated in her first YogaSix challenge! To kick-off the July Challenge – Yoga Bingo – we asked Taylor to recap what she learned from “one year of yoga”.
The end of May of marked one year since I started practicing yoga. I never thought I’d be so committed to my practice, nor did I ever think I’d be one to practice yoga, period. Yet, since coming to YogaSix nearly every day for the last year, I’ve learned many lessons that I’ve taken and implemented into my life both on and off my mat.
While I’m not one to be athletic or competitive, the lessons I’ve learned that have followed me off the mat helped me through one of the toughest—if not the toughest—seasons in my life last year. If I didn’t have my faith coupled with yoga, I don’t know how I would have been able to cope with the loss of my fur child, Cal, to cancer, while simultaneously dealing with my parents’ sudden divorce after 31 years.
The first thing yoga has taught me in the last year was to learn to live for today, in this moment, because that’s all we have. None of us are guaranteed to wake up tomorrow morning, so right now, we should make the most of what we have been blessed with: today. Through that, how do I want to spend my day? Do I want to spend it worrying about things I can’t control, getting lost in a whirlpool of toxic thoughts that frankly will never come to fruition anyway, or do I want to make the most of what I’ve been given, not worrying, but being grateful?
Gratefulness is the second lesson that I’ve learned through yoga, and what it truly means to be grateful. While I think this is always something I will be learning in life, yoga has taught me in the last year that gratefulness is one of the most important things we can display to ourselves, as well as others. More than just saying we are grateful for something, or someone, but truly living it, has become a big shift in my mind and thinking.
Instead of fearing the worst (which by the way, did happen to me last year when my dog was diagnosed with lymphoma, my biggest nightmare), and living in constant fear of what could happen, I should live my life letting those around me know I’m grateful for them, tell them that often, and my actions should reflect that. Worrying about losing someone does not equal gratefulness, but being thankful for what we have—today—and recognizing this is all we have, and communicating that appreciation and love rather than worry and doubt does equal gratefulness.
Lastly, and although it’s difficult to “rank” the lessons yoga has taught me, I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is mindfulness. That is, mindfulness about my body while on and off the mat. Mindfulness of what I’m doing with a broken ankle, and if I’m going to further injure myself by not taking it easy. Mindfulness of, therefore, embracing my many modifications and being okay with it. Mindfulness of listening to others more than talking myself. Mindfulness of being aware of what I have control over in my life: nothing, other than my breath, which even then, can be short and shallow or intentional and elongated. And mindfulness of constantly being aware of not letting myself get over emotional, or over logical about anything. That is, constantly trying to keep myself and my thoughts in the middle of logic and emotion.
Through it all, being dedicated enough to carve out time each day for me, where I can focus on me, my breath, and movement for an hour without interruption (except for my thoughts, which is still another lesson in progress—stay tuned) has become one of my biggest priorities. The mental benefits, clarity, and physical benefits yoga brings me each day are well worth it all.
(Photos Courtesy of Nick Borrelli: @ambassador_of_stoke)