One of my yoga teachers (who I adore by the way) taught me this translation of the first of The Yoga Sutras by Pantanjali which (transliterated) is ‘atta yoga nushasanam.’ ‘And now begins the practice of yoga... and now begins the practice of yoga... and now...’
What she meant by that was that in every moment of every day we are presented with yet another challenge to breathe and practice greater mindfulness and ease -- even in the most challenging of situations. I get mad at my husband. (Breathe.) I get caught behind a slow driver and I'm running late for an appointment. (Breathe again. And again.) My father is looking over my shoulder as I cook dinner. (Breathe some more.) You get it. Whenever we feel our stress levels rising, every time we feel cortisol shooting into our nervous system, we have an option. We can react, or we can breathe.
It's hard, right? I want to get mad when I think that someone (either inadvertently or on purpose) has wronged me in some way! I want to lash out. And unfortunately all too often I do. I'm a bad yogi. I don't breathe the way I should. I get mad. I don't take that minute to breathe before I react.
But I'm better than I was. And I'm not as good as I am going to be. And this is what I love about yoga. It's not about arriving at some destination. It's about a process of trying to be better tomorrow than I am today. It's about sometimes remembering that it I just take that breath, that perhaps I will save myself the stress of my own making. And now begins the practice of yoga...