5 Ways Yoga Helps in Difficult Times

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You know those days (or weeks or months) when everything seems to go wrong? I've been having one of those months. I've leaned on my friends and family to help me through the tough times, but more than anything I lean on my yoga practice.

Here are 5 ways my practice has helped me through some of the most difficult times.

1. Be OK with discomfort. There have been numerous times when I've thought I couldn't hold Warrior I Pose for one more second, but when I relaxed and breathed I realized that the discomfort I was feeling wasn't so intolerable after all. This is the most practical lesson I've learned on the mat that translates beautifully into life.

2. Knowing I'm stronger than I realize. When I first saw someone in an arm balance, I though that I'd never be strong enough to do that. But over time, my muscles got stronger and I honed my understanding of where my body was in space and I could do it! I try to think about that first moment when my feet lifted away from the floor in Bakasana whenever life seems daunting.

3. Emphasize the positive. A yoga class helps me get my mind off my problems, and it always makes me thankful that I'm healthy and alive no matter what the situation outside the studio doors. Even when my life situation isn't ideal, just being able to experience my breath coming in and out helps me see beyond my own drama and feel like I'm a part of something bigger. That's a huge comfort.

4. Everything is temporary. Poses are temporary. Pain is temporary. Happiness is temporary. Life is temporary. Yoga has taught me that life keeps moving no matter what. And dwelling on how we wish things were different only inhibits us from enjoying the present moment.

5. Suffering is optional. While we may not be in control of the things that are happening around us, we do choose how we react to those things. We can choose to get upset when our teacher asks us to hold that nemesis pose for five more breaths, or we can enjoy the feeling of our feet on the ground and the air on our skin until she calls out the next pose. Life is exactly the same way.