3 life lessons I learned on my yoga mat: and why I shouldn't be your workout buddy

They say if you want to stick to your workout goals you should exercise with a partner. This partner will motivate you to get your butt to the gym when even waxing your ass sounds like a better idea. A partner that will call your bluff when you claim you’re too tired to go to class. I am not that partner.

Want to walk my dog with me? Fantastic. Want to walk for thirty minutes on a treadmill? Not a chance. Bike ride? Does it involve snacks?

I spent 15-20 hours a week in the gym as a gymnast by the time I was in jr. high. Later, as a dancer, I’d often spend 10 hours a day in the studio rehearsing or choreographing.

http://www.usmagazine.com/entertainment/news/kacy-catanzaro-owns-american-ninja-warrior-is-first-female-finalist-2014167I’ve realized, though, that I now struggle finding a desire to work out without the purpose of competeing or performing. I’m not interested in running a marathon; no part of me wants to spend six hours doing a triathalon. American Ninja Warrior looks fun, which is probably why the only class I like at the gym invovles the MoveStrong machine.

Last week I finally returned to a Baptiste yoga class. While I regularly do sun salutations and a few random asanas at home, I haven’t taken a true class in over a year.

Although I missed the physicality of the class, I forgot about the connections. Usually what happens on the yoga mat has intentions beyond shaping muscles and increasing strength…they’re metaphors for life.

Yes, you can learn a little about life on your yoga mat.

“Accept the quiet within the chaos.” Amidst the continual flow moving through poses and salutations you start to think you’ll never have a chance to catch your breath. And then you pause in a given pose and it’s a welcome relief. Sound familiar?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/news/8649662/Slow-drivers-cause-the-most-frustration.htmlWe rush to work, to the store, to a meeting, to pick up our kids, to activities…non-stop all day. We curse the red light and slow driver for interrupting our flow, instead of finding it a momentary pause to catch our breath.

Stuck behind an endless freight train? Put the car in park and take a few deep breaths, read a page or two in the long put off novel, or take a moment to simply observe the world around you.

“Find the calm in the struggle.” Sometimes, though, that short delay becomes an uncomfortable halt. Maybe it’s a three minute “chair pose” that makes your muscles shake and your heart race; maybe it’s life knocking you on your ass.

This is where breath becomes essential. Calming your breath doesn’t eliminate the challenge, it gives you the strength to face it.

calm“Stop thinking and start listening.” We anticipate, we reply, we’re thinking ten-steps ahead…and we’re missing the point. Sometimes the flow goes in an unexpected order. If we can turn down our own mind-chatter, though, we’ll be led to the next step.

Once we’re anticipating what we think should happen, we lose focus on what is happening.

So while I might not be the best choice for a “workout buddy,” or the best person to help you reach your marathon milestones, I’m always happy to try that new salsa class, go for a hike, try a naked yoga class, or play some catch. I’ll bring the snacks.

Kacy Catanzaro photo credit

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