Deepen Your Values with Yoga: 10 Practical Essays

October 20, 2020

Lately, all I have wanted to do is step on my yoga mat. To breathe, to move, and just be in my own presence. It has taken up a lot of space in my life, and I’ve let it. For the first time since I can remember, I’ve been able to give my full attention to what’s calling me without question or inhibition.

I do wonder. I live alone now and have pretty much been in isolation for about three months. It’s like I have been gifted extra hours in the day to pursue my passions and interests undisturbed. How can I not give my undivided attention to what’s calling me when I have ALL this time to myself? The energetic invitation to explore has been so strong with yoga and breathwork these last few months. And I tell you, I’m here for it. 

After having spent the first six months of 2020 living at Blue Osa, a yoga retreat and centre, developing my spiritual practice has been on my mind. I realised that while I already had a home practice, the experience was usually only contained within the space I gave it. How did my spiritual practice translate in my everyday life? Maybe it did in positive ways, and I was never really aware (which isn’t ideal). Or perhaps my practice was a purely physical one and enhanced nothing but my fitness? I couldn’t say. 

We all know that yoga, meditation and breathwork can enhance our lives. But how many of us actually measure this? Or do we just rely on having a spiritual practice and hope for the best, or assume it’s working miracles? As in, I know a lot of people who ‘do all the right things’ and live as though everything is all love + light when let’s be real, we’re mostly operating from pain + darkness.

I rarely set quantifiable goals, especially a spiritual practice. Nor am I one to intellectualise a process. Instead, I feel through my experiences and trust my intuition to guide me. But that has also meant that my changing emotions have played a huge part in what I do daily, which has easily thrown me off my ‘greater plan’ many times.

So, after I left Blue Osa, I wanted to uplevel my relationship with my practice and set some commitments and goals so that I can physically see and quantify the transformation in real life. I wasn’t sure what that would entail, but the intention was there, and I let it go. Then in August this year, I haphazardly decided I was going to practice yoga every day for one year. 

I wanted to set myself up for success, so I agreed on at least 10 mins of yoga a day. And I’m thrilled to say we’re three months in, and I haven’t skipped a day. But by the 27th August, I noticed my practices were getting longer each day and sometimes I’d get on my mat twice a day.

So naturally, I re-evaluated and decided to make yoga an integral part of my daily life. This meant not just doing yoga every day (I’ve upped my daily practice to minimum 30 mins now), but also by studying the mind-body system/connection through yoga and working towards translating it into real life. If you read my blog, you know I’m all about navigating emotions, intuition and self-therapy. And now, I get to use yoga as a tool to connect these experiences and work towards total transformation off the mat.

The importance of intention.

My life is pretty still, and I have designed it that way. But I can very quickly get into my own head if I am not consciously utilising my practice as an anchor, for both grounding and awareness. 

Being on a yoga mat feels like home to me now. Moving and breathing consciously in my practice has brought about sensations and emotions in my body that I’ve continuously ignored. It’s become a place of conversation with myself, and a safe space to explore, be curious, and try new things. I’ve set principles and intentions, worked through them in my practice and seen them reflected in life. 

Am I allowed to say that yoga can be the quickest way to empowerment that I know? 

The word resilient comes to mind here. When yoga becomes part of your life and is not just ‘I need to work out or stretch’, you’re entering an entirely different ball game. You’ll see your inner strength and resiliency come to life in the shortest amount of time and through a process that is unique to you.

So far, my daily yoga practice has resulted in having plenty of physical awareness;

  • I catch moments of breathlessness much more quickly, and I’m able to centre myself with mindful breaths throughout the day.
  • I have more spatial awareness of my body. I notice how connected I am to the seat below me or how evenly (or unevenly) rooted my feet are to the ground. And I take up space unapologetically. YES MAAM, I DO.
  • I find myself flowing into random asana’s throughout the day because I now recognise when I need an energetic upgrade. 
  • I have become more attuned to pleasure and pain in my body as I consciously explore what it feels like to live in my body on my mat. 

On the not so glamorous side, I’m pretty sure I’ve also torn my medial meniscus from doing a god-awful lotus twist. And I’ve injured my right shoulder from continuous misaligned chaturangas. I still struggle to do a full push up.

It’s all good. As you can see, my relationship with yoga is thriving. 

Deepening my values.

Michelle Finerty in an article for GAIAM said, “One of the things I love about yoga is that if you truly pay attention to what you’re working on in class, you’ll probably find a connection to something you’re working on in your life off the mat.”

So if we can consciously decide to work on aspects of our lives on our yoga mats, we have the potential to work through anything and create change in our lives. 

One aspect that’s been circulating my mind in the last year has been my values and how I show up in life according to them. 

We all have them, along with some guiding principles to help us embody them in life. Yet we don’t necessarily practice what we preach. In such a changing world, I don’t believe we even know how to.

Our core values are our guiding principles that help shape our behaviour and actions to align us with the correct way to live. Think of them as an anchor to show up as the best version of yourself. And I can honestly say that I haven’t worked nearly as hard enough on who I want to be in this world as I thought I did.   

I value compassion, but how can I honestly be compassionate with others if I’ve not experienced compassion for myself?

I value growth, but how do I recognise growing pains from failure so that I can stay focused on my path? 

I value creativity, but how can I have patience in my messiness and imperfectness so that I can keep creating from joy and freedom? 

I value stability, but how can I remain stable in the face of adversity if I don’t even know where I’m losing balance? 

So, that is my intention here. 

To introduce my core values into my yoga practice and work through them experientially on my mat. And then bring them to life so I can genuinely embody my values correctly and truthfully as myself.

Over the next 10 weeks, I’ll dedicate one 45 minute yoga practice a week to focus on a core value. I’ll set the intention at the beginning, and infuse my practice with this intention. When I’ve finished, i’ll work to bring that experience into my everyday life and share my reflections here. 

If you’re curious to know how you can deepen your values through the practice of yoga, then subscribe below to get notified every time I publish my weekly reflection. 

PSA. It’s a 10 part series, 10 short essays, hopefully over 10 weeks.

Next week… Intention: I Have The Power To Change My Story.

Featured photo credits: Photo by Rawan Yasser on Unsplash

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