What you can accomplish on your yoga mat, you can achieve in your life. It’s not just about the yoga. It’s so much more. With an open heart and an open mind, yoga can truly be transformative. Just ask anyone who practices regularly why they practice yoga? They’ll likely tell you, it’s about strength, balance, flexibility, and focus – for your body and for your life.
Today, let’s talk about Strength.
When you practice yoga, you will absolutely strengthen your muscles. Holding static yoga postures and moving through various series of poses uses every muscle in your body. I always encourage my yogis to push a bit farther than they find comfortable in their muscles. It’s easy to get into a yoga pose, but it’s hard to really bust out that pose and do it like you mean it. Imagine even a simple pose like Mountain Pose – just standing at the front of your mat, arms lifted overhead. Just about anyone can do this pose. Now, rather than simply standing, try arriving at the front of your mat. In this moment, you have chosen to be here and be strong. Press into all four corners of your feet, squeeze your legs together from your ankles to your inner thighs, slightly tuck your tailbone, and engage your core by pressing your belly button towards your back. Suddenly this simple, easy pose becomes active and challenging and requires presence of mind and body. Now, let’s move to your upper body. Draw your shoulders away from your ears, lengthen through the crown of your head, reach through your fingertips, and spin your pinkies inward towards each other. Now we’re talking. Now you are powerful and strong! Every part of your body is activated, and you are 100 percent in it!
Every yoga pose can be easy or it can be hard. Strength comes from pushing beyond the edge of discomfort. You can do it. Even if your mind is telling you you’ve done enough, you can do more. If you have arrived on your mat, if you have bothered to show up, you owe it to yourself to rise to the occasion and be your best self. You are stronger than you think.
Strength on your mat enables strength of character. Take the physical practice and let it transform your life. Strength is not just something in your muscles, in your body – it’s in your mind and your heart too. You are mentally strong as well as physically strong.
Maybe that strength comes in the form of courage. Maybe it comes in the form of forgiveness. Maybe it comes in the form of kindness or love. In whatever areas of your life you need a little extra strength, you can find it in the principles of yoga. You can find it with breath, presence, and mindfulness. In a room full of yogis all breathing and moving together, each person is there with their own agenda. Everyone has their own issues to deal with. Yoga is a beautiful way to fire up your strength and find your inner power, for whatever you are dealing with.
I don’t pretend to know what experiences or struggles my yogis are facing in their lives, but my job as a yoga instructor is to help them to connect to their power, internalize what yoga means to them individually, and take what they need from the class. Some participants may need strength to deal with a difficult situation. Maybe they are struggling with the death of a loved one, or illness, or a divorce, or depression. Some participants may be facing something new and uncertain that requires courage and openness. It could be a new job, a new marriage, a new baby, or an exciting trip.
Yoga teaches us that everything is connected – our breath, our bodies, our emotions, our spirits – and yoga helps us cope more effectively and positively with whatever life brings.
Arrive in your life! Be present. Be strong.
You got this!
Joanna Meiseles is the founder of Turbo 26 Studio, a new concept in yoga coming to the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California this fall. Turbo 26 offers fast-flow heated yoga classes in 26-minute stackable intervals. Designed to deliver inspiring fitness-focused classes, Turbo 26 is demystifying yoga and making the benefits accessible to anyone willing to challenge their body and open their mind.
Prior to Turbo 26, Joanna created Snip-its, a franchised chain of hair salons for children. After building Snip-its to more than 60 locations in the US, Joanna put her skill and franchise expertise to work as a strategy consultant at iFranchise Group, the world's premier franchise consulting firm. A lifelong avid yogi, Joanna is now putting her energy into Turbo 26, a concept that she hopes to grow into a successful franchise across Northern California and then across the country.