“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” ― Steve Maraboli
One of the reasons I practice yoga is that it teaches me compassion. It builds my confidence, makes me stronger and challenges me to notice when I’m being too hard on myself… even in yoga class. Sometimes when the teacher demonstrates poses, I get jealous. “Oh my gosh I can’t lift my leg that high!” And for a moment I feel discouraged. I may never be able to point the toes on my back foot straight up to the ceiling in standing splits… but that’s okay. Just as we often hear in class, I tell myself, everyone’s body is different. We were all designed differently to be able to do different things. Different is good. I might have a little regret for running long distance, playing lacrosse and soccer instead of following through with ballet and starting yoga at a younger age. Yes, I do think about that sometimes as silly as it sounds. But, I may be one of the few yogis who can still play sports and run, even if I can’t bend in the same ways, and I’m starting to think that’s cool too.
Yoga helps me to reset. When I come to my mat, I am able to hear the truth. In class, I open myself up to listen to words that challenge me. “Let go… Set aside the things that don’t serve you… Only go to your edge…” The more I hear these words, the more I am able to embrace them as truth and begin to live by them. The motivation and encouragement each teacher speaks pushes me to work harder and also to give myself a break when I need to. Practicing yoga allows me to cultivate compassion towards myself. And as I begin to speak kinder words to myself and let go of thoughts of comparison and regret or anything else that doesn’t serve me, I have much more freedom to offer the same kindness to others.
“Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and it’s beauty.” ― Albert Einstein
You have to start somewhere. The real goal is to have more space to offer compassion to others… not only empathy, but action. Flexible spine, flexible mind. Think about it. The more open you are in your body, the more receptive you can be to others. Pretty sweet, huh?