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By Olivia Janisch

We’ve all heard that yoga starts on the mat, but in order to really benefit life must be a constant practice. The beauty is that yoga can happen more fluidly on and off the mat when consciously practiced. This means that once you leave class, your heart is soft, your thoughts are pure, and you don’t lay on your horn the moment you get cut off in the parking lot. Yoga is a powerful tool for transforming your mindset to see the beauty of life and to cultivate a gentle and peaceful state of being. Below are five steps to use your yogi training to hone your ability to handle whatever life throws your way with grace and patience.

1. Practice forgiveness

Forgiveness helps to detach you from the petty dramas of life, and stay in connection with the divinity and perfection you clear the way to during yoga. When someone does something cruel to you, it is because they have lost sight of who they truly are, and has taken action that comes from a place of pain, not love. In truth, their unkindness has nothing to do with you, it has to do with their fear or sadness or mistrust. Forgiveness helps you escape the emotional trauma that comes from someone else’s words. When you release someone from his or her mistakes, you also release detach from overemphasis on your own.

2. Remember that this too shall pass

Nothing lasts forever, be it good or bad. Life is a constant state of flux, and that’s the beauty of it. The reason we practice yoga is to more calmly and constructively process emotions, and move through difficult situations to come out with greater understanding and joy on the other side. We must remember that each difficulty that comes our way is simply a test, and to breathe and pass the test with courage and purity of intention.

3. Go towards your fear

Standing on your head, lifting up into flying pigeon, or going for full moon will likely land you in a face plant. Does that mean you never try them? When you go towards situations that take you out of your comfort zone and require you to access new strength, you grow in ways you never could have expected. You see that you’re capable of things you didn’t realize were possible before, and you become empowered and inspired to see what else you can move toward. The only way to fail is to never try.

4. Smile and breathe

Ever been in warrior two for way too long? The only way to healthily get through it is to smile and breathe. This can be done in any situation, as long as it’s true and coming from your heart. It can help you to see your circumstances differently, to soften your heart, and to make something as mundane as sitting at the DMV fly by.

5. Have a beginners mind

Coming to your practice without preconceived notions of what you can or cannot achieve helps you to detach from expectations and enjoy every moment. Practicing that mindset on a daily basis helps elevate your awareness, increases your ability to appreciate each situation as fresh and new, and nourishes the area of your brain that helps you stay youthful.

Yoga can change your life tremendously. From toning your body to keeping your spine young to literally changing the brain’s response to stress, yoga has the power to soften your heart and open your mind. By practicing it on a daily basis, in and out of the studio, you cultivate the power to heal yourself and feel alive in each moment.

Photo by Jason Long

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