What Yoga Taught Me About Discipline

This past week, I did something quite crazy and wonderful… I went to a yoga class.

I attended yoga classes sporadically in college. But to be perfectly honest, I had not worked out (let alone, done yoga) at all since I had become pregnant with Joshua. Yes, I had gone on walks and made sure I ate healthy, but not once did I attempt to “break a sweat” or do anything remotely strenuous. That means over a year of zero exercising. eek.

So here I was, walking into a yoga class, mat in hand, ready for what I always thought was merely “glorified stretching”. I had looked up this studio and the instructor (whom, might I add, is a world-renowned yoga instructor). I sat down excited for what I thought was an “all-levels welcome” class.

Boy, was I wrong.

Little did I know that 20 minutes into the class, I would literally be dripping sweat onto my now drenched mat. I hadn’t realized that everyone else in the class had brought towels to lay on top of their mats because without them, they would be slipping and sliding all over the place (as I was). Little did I know that I would be spending a good chunk of the class lying in “child’s pose” (which, in case you didn’t know, is the assumed position you take when you need to rest). Little did I know how exhausted (& somewhat mortified) I would be at my inability to keep up. And one pose after another the instructor would continually repeat “This pose is only momentary… keep breathing… only a little bit longer and then we move on.”

I am not sure that I have ever sweat so much doing anything. I’m not sure if it was the yoga, the instructor, the sheer fact that I hadn’t worked out in over a year or some combination of the three that made that hour-and-a-half almost unbearable.

As I walked out of the class, quite honestly looking like I had jumped into a pool, I thought to myself, “well… I already bought a 10-pack of classes… guess I better get used to this.”

The exhilarating thing is, when it was all over, I felt liberated. I could not believe I had made it through such an agonizing 90 minutes that, in the moment, felt incredulously painful, but afterword allowed me to feel stronger, refreshed, rejuvenated.

And isn’t this was creating and breaking habits is like? We ache and we sweat and we nearly give up… It doesn’t feel good in the moment. We’re exhausted, sometimes mortified, and anxiously await the end result. I have felt like this in both my healthy habits (eating & exercising) and even in my spiritual walk with God.

There are many moments and many seasons that feel hard to get through. Sometimes, I don’t want to wake up at 6 am to read my bible. I don’t want to pray. I don’t want to exercise. There are even those harder moments when I don’t even feel like finishing graduate school… sometimes, I simply want to quit.

and then I remember, “this is only momentary… keep breathing… only a little bit longer and then we move on.”


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