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By Olivia Janisch

A yoga class is basically just one big fat metaphor for life. It is not only a physical practice but the act of using breath and movement to tap into your subconscious to rewire the way you process relationships, situations, and emotions.

Holding challenging, physically active positions is a way of hacking your brain and recalibrating the body’s reaction to stress. While the way we respond to challenges is deeply ingrained in us, yoga is the opportunity to examine our natural reactions and actively change them. When we do this on the mat, we raise our consciousness and naturally begin to reexamine other areas of our life.

We all know that negative emotions and stress can make us emotionally and even physically sick. Yoga helps us retrain the way we cope with challenges and provides us with tools to control our emotions and stress levels in a healthy and mindful way.

Take, for example, child’s pose. In every class you’ve ever taken, I’m sure the instructor has said that if at any point you feel overwhelmed or need a break, take child’s pose. Can you imagine if we did that in real life? That if whenever we felt uncomfortable or stressed, we checked in and took a moment to evaluate where we were physically and mentally, and to make sure that we weren’t overdoing it. This pose encourages us to be aware and to nurture ourselves, instead of hammering through a challenge just because we think we have to.

The physical challenge of yoga makes us more fearless. Standing on one foot in warrior three, pushing up into crow, and flowing in crescent pose all compromise your balance. The ego would tell us to avoid our weaknesses, but by pushing to our edge and tipping over we change the way we might approach challenges outside of yoga that aren’t our strengths. Practicing poses that put us outside of our comfort zone helps guide us through uncomfortable situations in life with composure and courage.

By exercising an optimistic and fearless mindset during yoga we make it more accessible for when we have real life issues, and create a healthy foundation from which we can move forward from a place of confidence as opposed to fear.

We cannot control what happens to us, all we can control is the way we move through the things that come our way. It is our inability to respond to struggles without anxiety and doubt that causes us problems, not the situations themselves. When we develop the foundation of our emotions with peace, love and gentleness, we are able to participate in our entire human experience with these qualities. When we move through negative situations, difficult relationships, and the minutia of daily life with grace and faith, our existence becomes much more untroubled, radiant and joyful.

Photo by Hazardous Taste

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