How to Use Yoga Practices in the Challenges of Daily Life

I was scrolling through Instagram today (click here, to follow me) and found an article posted from Yoga Journal about using yoga to help sift through the struggles and challenges of modern life (see source below).  It was almost like the Universe knew I needed to read this vary article.  I needed to be reminded of how to use yogic practices in the challenges of my daily life. Like most people, I have struggled with a few things throughout my life but have managed to over come most.  There are two obstacles that have been persistent in the past few years.  The first is finding my place in the small town community that I live in and the second is being a step-parent from a distance.  This post is not a rant or complaint of my current situation but rather bringing more attention to the balance I have been missing.  Realizing that I need to take time to use yoga principles on and off the mat to help with the challenges of daily life.  Instead of dwelling on these two issues, using yoga to get over these hurdles.

The first struggle has been with the community in my smallish town.  I did not grow up in this town or go to college here and due to this fact, I have not built the relationships of youth which could be part of the problem.  There is a weird phenomenon with small mountain towns.  It's very cliquey.  There are various cliques surrounding activites in the community, including running, skiing/snowboarding, rock climbing, yoga (which seems to be one in the same here) and of course others.  It's hard to be accepted into these scenes unless you know someone and most of the time the group on a whole doesn't want new people anyway.  It feels like a popularity contest.

In my yoga teacher training one of the first things I learned were the yamas and niyamas.  These are social and personal ethics of yoga.  Ahimsa (non harming) is the first of five yamas in the eight limbs of yoga.  This principle is important to embrace for self as well as for anyone we come in contact with.  Being in a community that has many cliques including the yogic community, the very first principle is lost.  By intentionally creating an environment where only certain people are accepted into a group is harming.  Celebrating differences in people and honoring that those differences bring other perspectives and values to the community, which should be a common goal.  Instead excluding those with differences seems to be what is happening.

The second hardship has been being a step parent.  Step parenting is hard no matter what the situation is.  The step parent can feel like an outsider at times and may not know exactly what his or her place is in the children's lives.  This can be especially true when the children have both mom and dad in their lives.  I started out as one of my step children's teachers and it has been really difficult for me to step away from that role.  It can be hard to be a parent when you are used to being the educator.

Another struggle has been step parenting here and there.  This is due to my husband and I living two hours away from my step children.  The time spent with them can sometimes be less than quality due to distance and time.  Most visits are weekend and school break visits, which can be short because of school and/or extra curricular events.  Routines at our house are different than routines at their mother's house therefore expectations and routines seem to be harder for the children to follow.  By the time the routines are remembered and embraced it is time for them to go back to their other home life.  The cycle starts again each time they return.

How to Use Yoga Practices in the Challenges of Daily Life

Using Yoga Practices (the eight limbs) in the Challenges of Daily Life

Finding balance is a huge part of yogic principles.  Using  santosha (contentment) and tapas (heat or self discipline) as examples of opposites to find balance.  Being a step-mother, I find that I am a great example of tapas.  I am very disciplined with most everything I do, exercise, yoga practice, manners, work, etc.  These are important areas in my life.  Although I work hard to achieve and stay on my path, I do find contentment in my own life.  It has proven to be harder to allow myself to experience santosha when it comes to these two humans.  I am dissatisfied with their behavior, they way they do things around the house, and even they way their interact with my son.  Since I am recognizing this imbalance, I know I need to back off and do more self study (svadhyaya) in order to understand how to be more accepting with the things I cannot control.

Bringing everything back to the eight limbs of yoga has given me an eye opening experience.  Getting back to the yogic philosophy when faced with life's challenges can help to bring balance and joy back to my daily life.  Taking more time to slow down and listen to or observe my feelings, thoughts, and insights can help bring balance back to my life.  In the past year I have had many eye opening moments while on my yoga mat.  I am grateful for the realizations that have been coming.  Being on my mat truly has helped me to work through many hurdles in all the years I have been practicing.  The answers are there, I just have to be open to them.  I need to remember, I am human.  Things happen and I do not always know where to go, however the more I get back to the roots and focus on my journey, I realize I am making headway.  I am doing my best to remember the philosophy of yoga is here to support and balance.



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