9 Yoga Lessons from the Mat

“Modern society,” says Lisa Frank, wellness counselor and yoga instructor at Miraval Arizona, “might make you think that yoga is all tight, bright pants and women twisting into human pretzels.”

There’s a whole lot more to it than that.

“This ancient practice nurtures our thoughts, feelings, and social states as much as it tones our bodies,” Lisa offers. It’s so much more than a pose captured in a magazine or social media post.

“Yoga in Sanskrit means union and offers a way of living that is in conscious connection with all things: all our parts, all beings everywhere—all of the universe.  It is a way of cultivating mind and body connection, a bond with your most genuine self, and a closer tie to your fellow humans,” Lisa explains.

Yoga can help us feel a greater sense of belonging, acceptance, and meaning in a life that often throws us curveballs.  We can take its rich teachings on the mat and apply them to our larger lives. It can teach us lessons to help us become our more realized selves, even when we step off the mat. 

Try these 9 tips from Lisa’s toolbox.

1. Mat as Mirror
Use the mat as your mirror to increase your consciousness of what’s happening right now. Pay attention to your breath and body to become more self-aware and able to reflect yourself clearly to the world.

2. Live Love
As you become more aware of and connected to your true self, you might notice a compassionate shift towards opening up a love of what you see, feel, and observe. Our essence is love, and it is accessible to all.

3. Create Balance
Creating balance goes beyond standing on one foot. Play with balancing opposite yet complementary forces: stillness and action, giving and receiving, comfort and growth.

4. Be Flexible
Being able to touch your toes may or may not improve your life but developing the flexibility to change defeating behaviors and beliefs will. 

5. Set Intention
What do you want from your practice, and how does it translate to your life?  When you have clear intentions, you practice living with greater meaning. 

6. Compare and Despair
Step away from the urge to make your practice match anyone else’s. We try not to live someone else’s life or duplicate it because that undermines our authenticity. We all have different bodies, experiences, and abilities—one person’s strength might be another person’s weakness. Practice in a way that is right for you.  You are unique, so look to others for inspiration rather than comparison or judgment. 

7. Progress not Perfection
There is no perfect pose or perfect person.  Perfectionism can lead to self-degradation; it’s not in harmony with self-love. When we practice yoga and life with compassion and kindness, we see progress. Shifts happen without being attached to “perfect” results.

8. Breathe Consciously
Breath is the bridge between mind and body, a relaxation technique, and a vehicle into the now; it’s a priceless tool.  Consciously take deep, slow diaphragmatic breaths to feel instantaneous and positive health benefits.

9. Get Support
When you have a hard time with a pose in yoga class, support may come from the teacher, other students, or a prop.  You can learn that when you want to achieve something in life, you alone have to do it, but you do not have to do it alone.  

Book a private session with Lisa Frank, Mind-Body Wellness Counselor & Life Coach, M.ED, or learn more about Miraval Arizona’s meditation and yoga experiences here.

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