Six Lessons I’ve Learned from a Yogi
by Robert Burclaw
As a fitness professional one of my greatest fears is getting complacent. The moment I cease to learn is the moment that my peers pass me by. I’m obsessed with constantly learning and continuing to evolve. A goal I’ve always had for myself was to be as well-rounded as I could possibly be. There are tons of different styles and viewpoints on what work, and far too often I see people limit themselves with their own closed-mindedness. So I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about each of these different schools of thought, and yoga was my most recent fitness adventure. This post goes out to the Yogi that opened my mind beyond anything I could have ever imagined, you know who you are. Thanks for the inspiration. For this post’s sake, I will refer to them as “my teacher.”
I first crossed paths with my teacher a while back, and avoided going to their classes due to my own pre-conceived notions of yoga. See, I used to be an extremely closed-minded individual. I accepted the research, and the science was always final, and I would argue in its favor every single time. Perhaps at this time I was not ready to learn what I eventually would. A few months went by, and I started to feel as though something was missing. I had an empty void in my life, and no matter what new experiences I sought out, nothing filled that void.
One day, I was reading through some new fitness-related articles to keep up on the industry, and I stumbled across an article on meditation. Naturally, I thought of Buddha, and I thought to myself, “there’s no way I could sit still for that long, good luck to them.” As I read deeper into meditation, however, I started reading about all these different health benefits, as well as how meditation can help with insomnia as well as discipline. Initially, I thought that is exactly what I needed! I had struggled with insomnia since my early college days, and I had always struggled with handling tasks as they were handed to me. Little did I know, this was only the tip of the iceberg, and that what I really longed for was spiritual guidance. I’ll elaborate more on that later in this post.
After extensive research on meditation, I sought out my teacher. I was taken through a guided meditation, and at the age of 25, I had my first every religious experience. My senses were heightened; I saw beautiful, vibrant colors everywhere, and I could hear everything for what seemed like miles. I was overcome with a sense of love, joy, and empathy for all. My teacher assigned me books to educate myself on the core principles and practices of meditation, and I couldn’t put them down. I wanted that feeling back. Eventually I was able to start meditating on my own, and I was beginning to see how everything in this world is so interconnected… it is truly beautiful.
I was hooked on this feeling, and I wanted to share it for all. I started bouncing ideas around with my teacher on ways in which both of our crafts share things in common. What we found is that yoga and personal training are perfect compliments for each other. As we continue to go back and forth learning from each other, I comprised a list of things that I have learned from my teacher. Perhaps when you read these it will open your eyes, just as it did for me.
Some of these are deeper than others, but none of them go unappreciated. Thanks, teach!
LOVE – Once you start seeing how we are all comprised of the same energy that formed this Earth, you begin to see we are all interconnected. I ridded myself of all judgments, and began to see everyone for the beautiful people that they were. I also gained an entirely new respect for nature. The biggest way this impacted training for me however, is that I learned that you simply CANNOT exercise because you hate the way that your body looks. Exercise because you LOVE your body, and you want to reward it with good health.
POSITIVE THOUGHT – The power of positive thinking is SERIOUSLY amazing. Your thoughts become you. Period. Why do you think negative things always happen to negative people? If you think positive, if you truly believe good changes will happen; good things will happen. You can alter your physical being by just thinking positively. Experiment with this, as I did myself. Take a whole day to smile and greet everyone you come across. Sit back and listen to what they all have to say. You’d be amazed by how much your positive energy feeds those around you. Who wouldn’t want to make other people feel good about themselves?
RELAX – Stress and diet are the two largest contributors to disease, and in 2014 we are WAY TOO STRESSED. Sit back, relax, and trust that everything is happening as it should be. Next time you’re feeling stressed, pause and take some deep breaths. You’d be surprised with how much better you feel. On top of everything else, if you’re constantly stressed, exercise does next to nothing for you in terms of hormones, other than weaken your immune response. So, RELAX. I’ve never experienced anything better for stress relief than yoga/meditation.
DISCIPLINE – As a Personal Trainer, discipline has always been at the very heart of what I teach. However, after picking up yoga/meditation, I have a whole new reason to eat clean and make better decisions. I am no longer just trying to have a lean and strong body, but now I’m trying to achieve a higher form of the self. Discipline is paramount to meditation; some would say discipline is the very goal of meditation. I’m not speaking in terms of just diet, but everything. Discipline your thoughts by eliminating those that are negative, discipline in diet by eating food that is natural and brings energy, discipline in your actions by treating others with respect/love. Through discipline, I have become a much more fulfilled and happy person.
COINCIDENCE DOESN’T EXIST – Yes, I said it. There are no such things as coincidences. If you are doing what you are meant to in this world (I know I am) then people come into your life at the right time to guide you to fulfill your destiny. Even prior to me believing in this, there is no way my life would have played out the way that it has to this point if I wasn’t made for this. It only took my teacher to discover how my life events tied together; look at how I met my teacher. You just have to be intuitive enough to recognize a person has come into your life for a reason, and learn what you can from them; it may guide you to your next lesson.
BREATHE -Breath is life. I know how cliché that sounds, but it’s true. You can last for days without food or drink, but only minutes without breath. NOBODY is better at teaching how to breathe than a Yogi. I wish Personal Trainers received better education in diaphragmatic breathing. I was humbled by working with my teacher on the most fundamental part of being alive. Besides that, research indicates that those who breath effectively have much lower rates of disease. Think about it. Almost all diseases are anaerobic, meaning they can’t survive in oxygen. When you breath effectively you bring more oxygen into your body; couple that with a good diet, and you create an environment where disease can’t thrive.
I want to finish with a HUUUUUUUUGE shout-out to my teacher, and inspiration for this post. Thank you for showing me the path.
Tags: breath, breathe, breathing, discipline, love, personal, positive though, relaxation, stress, wellness, yoga, yogi