Learning To Let My Mind Slow Down Through Yoga

It took me quite a while to truly get into yoga becuase I used to get extremely impatient- my mind would wander in class wondering how much longer I had left and I’d get antsy. My life is very go, go, go. It starts early in the morning; it’s active and fast-paced and packed full almost every day. And because of that I used to never give my mind time to just be because I felt as if I didn’t have time to do that.

I used to consider my runs and lifts my “mind-clearing” time, but that’s truly not what they are. I realized that they’re actually the most active times for my mind. They’re where I play loud music, think through everything that’s on my mind, push my body to its limit and sweat everything out. There’s no mind-clearing going on during these times- my mind is usually the most full during these times… I’m thinking about the fight I had with so-and-so the other day, I’m thinking about how heavy I should lift, I’m thinking about how amazing my body feels pushing itself so early in the morning, I’m thinking about the blog post that needs to be written, the recipe that needs to be created, and even the breakfast waiting for me at home (lol don’t pretend like you don’t think about food at the gym too ;) ). With all of that being said, my workouts are where I get all my thoughts out before I get too busy later in the day to even think straight.

But yoga? That’s when I truly clear my mind. Once I realized how much I desperately needed to slow down my mind and put life on pause at times, I fell in love with it. Once I stopped thinking of yoga as a workout for my body and started thinking of it as a workout for my mind, it’s like something inside me clicked, and since then yoga has filled me with so much peace and joy.

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At the beginning of this month I set being more mindful as one of my new year intentions, and I’m not going to lie, at first it was hard. It was like I physically couldn’t slow down my mind enough to take care of it in the way that I needed. Rolling out my mat and tending to it at 5 in the morning before getting my day going was difficult. And I realized it’s because I was treating it like just another thing to check off my to-do list. Yoga * check *. I was trying to structure my yoga and meditation practices like I structure my workouts.

And it just can’t be that way.

One of my best friends and roommates is so dedicated to her yoga practice and it inspires me to no end. I texted her admitting that I just couldn’t get into a mindful yoga groove but that I wanted to so badly. Her response made everything clear: “It’s your yoga practice, not yoga perfect, so sometimes you just have to move through whatever it is and allow that season to teach you. It takes time and there is no end to the journey, just perpetual teachings and growth. Tending to it in the way that I feel I need to be tended to in my mind, body and heart in THAT moment. That is yoga and it feels great.” (Like WOW. How did I get so lucky to have this amazing soul in my life?)

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To help kick off my new dedication to truly tending to my mind, body and heart as Morgan suggested, I went to a hot yoga class downtown and it was so life giving. The instructor kept repeating that we must be proud of the person who showed up on the mat that night, and it’s as if she knew exactly what I needed to hear. The class was crowded, but there was something about how close we all had to be and the way our sincronized breathes seemed to echo off the studio walls that made my heart so full. The class pushed my body, but more importantly pushed my mind and made me realize how badly I needed this mindful escape in my life.

Of course, I’m a college student and can’t be dropping dollas right and left at yoga studios, so Morgan suggested I try free-flowing at home and I have to be honest- that intimidated me to no end. I didn’t feel confident enough in my yoga abilities to simply put on music and flow. But once I pushed myself and tried it I questioned myself for never trying it before.

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(how gorgeous is this studio?!)

There’s just something about rolling out my mat, turning off the lights, lighting my candles and turning on music like Trevor Hall and just trusting my body to move itself through what it needs. I love ending my practices with a few minutes of meditation and I can finally say my mind has learned to slow down. In these moments it’s like the world has been put on pause and all that matters is my mind and soul and the mantra that I am committing to in that moment.

The more I practice yoga, the more I meditate and the more opportunities I give my body, heart, mind and soul to harmonize, the fuller of life I’ve been feeling. The other night I was sitting on my couch listening to Trevor Hall (can you tell I’m a little obsessed? Also a Morgan suggestion. If you haven’t listened to his music I highly suggest it!) and I felt the burning need to roll out my mat right then and there. So I did and ended up having the best free-flow practice I’ve ever had. I could feel so much happiness and peacefulness washing over me that it brought me to tears as I meditated. In that moment, I had no worries, no stressors, no insecurities, no sadness. I strive to have those moments more often and I strive to savor those moments and hold onto them as hope when there are worries, stressors, insecurities and sadness.

No matter what your new year intentions are, don’t be afraid to admit that you’re struggling with them. If I hadn’t sought advice and had instead discarded the idea of ever loving yoga, I wouldn’t be where I am right now in my practice. It’s in moments of vulnerability that we grow the most.

XO nat