I’ve been teaching yoga for 10 years and practicing for about 14—and I mean full commitment to my practice. Once upon a time, back when my schedule permitted, I used to dedicate two and a half hours a day to my ashtanga practice! My passion was fierce, but like anything that stokes your fire so strongly, it’s bound to burn out without the proper tending to the hearth. My relationship with yoga has gone through peaks and valleys, but at the end of the day, I know yoga is always there for me. My relationship with it will always grow and transform as long as I stay open to change and the lessons it wants to teach me.
RELATED: The Strength-Building Yoga Pose That Tons of People Do Wrong
I’m about to wrap up co-teaching a month-long, 200-hour yoga teacher training in Napa Valley, and I have to say that I find my love for yoga refreshed and inspired by my amazing students. Watching my fledgling teachers prep their wings inspired me to sit down and list the reasons why I still practice and adore yoga so much.
1. Yoga Is Flexible
Insert obvious joke here. Yes, yoga does make you flexible—both in body and mind—but beyond that, it’s been so flexible in its offerings toward me. Yoga will take me no matter what state I’m in. I can be fiery and amped up, and it will offer me sweat, heat, and discipline. I can be hormonal and exhausted, and it embraces me with blankets and bolsters as a safe little island where my insanity can slip away. I can be injured with a broken spirit, and yoga still offers modifications if my ego is willing to step down to let my heart and body heal. A moment hasn’t gone by in these past 14 years when the practice hasn’t been willing and ready to provide for me, assuming I’m willing to receive.
2. The More You Learn, the Less You Know
This was one of my former teacher’s favorites things to remind us, and how very right he was. I just had a lovely talk with one of my trainees; she told me she’s so excited by all of the information we’re giving her but overwhelmed and worried she’ll never be able to learn it all! I simply smiled and reminded her there’s no such thing—we’ll never know it all. All we can do is show up, do our best, and stay open to the daily lessons in hope that they help us grow and transform.
People often refer to “yoga masters,” but from my experiences, there’s no such thing. Just when you think you’ve “mastered” a pose, the next page will flip to unfold even deeper and more complex versions of what you thought you had just perfected. Honestly, it makes me laugh as I write this because yoga has taught me to forget the quest for perfection—it’s a long, winding road that will only bring you back to where you started. I don’t want to be perfect—I want to be smart, aware, and connected. I’ve managed to become quite proficient at many postures in my yoga career but have endless poses and variations yet to explore. This aspect of the practice keeps me hungry—there’s always something new to learn.
RELATED: 11 Surprising Perks of Practicing Yoga
3. Yoga Is for Everywhere
Yoga can be done anywhere! All you need is a mat and a space big enough to hold it. I’ve practiced yoga in amazing studios and retreat centers, as well as many a hotel room and even wedged into a small space between the wall and a bed. I’ve even done a yoga practice in bed when I’ve been too tired to do anything else. The accessibility of this practice keeps me going because there really are no excuses. This modern age provides us with amazing online studios that release new classes every day (yogaglo.com is my favorite and the one I teach at). I don’t need a teacher, special equipment, or to even leave the house. Yoga is always a possibility.
4. Yoga Makes the World a Better Place
Yoga makes us all better. I adore the physical element of the practice, but most importantly, yoga has taught me boundless lessons about myself and how to be the best version possible. Yoga has given me patience both on and off the mat. A challenging posture doesn’t come naturally—you have to work for it. I’ve learned what true resistance to the process feels like and how easy it is to give up. The main key to achieving what you desire is to do your best and apply yourself everyday. Anything you love is worth working hard for.
Yoga has also taught me about perspective. How do I behave when I’m struggling with a posture; can I cultivate patience and enjoy the journey instead of wilding grasping at the destination? How do I behave when I’m successful; can I stay humble, honest, and hardworking? I’ve learned that not being good at a pose isn’t failure—it’s a step in the right direction and another tool in my teaching belt for being able to relate to my students. I’ve also learned that being really good at something is fleeting and not to define myself by something like yoga posture. The practice on the mat teaches me how to live and react in my life. It’s not meant to be mastered or executed, as if you were getting a gymnastics score. It’s an amazing way to drop the ego and learn what it’s like to just show up for both myself and for those I care about in this world. What better gift can you get that that?
RELATED: 9 Quick Pick-Me-Up Power Moves
Kathryn Budig is a jet-setting yoga teacher who teaches online at Yogaglo. She is the contributing yoga expert for Women’s Health magazine, a Yoga Journal contributor, yogi-foodie for MindBodyGreen, creator of Gaiam’s Aim True Yoga DVD, co-founder of Poses for Paws, and author of Rodale’s The Women’s Health Big Book of Yoga. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or on her site.