Yoga Teaches You So Much More Than Flexibility, So Here's What Will Always Stick With You

by Georgina Berbari

Every time you roll out your yoga mat, you're giving yourself the opportunity to learn all sorts of lessons. Sure, you thought you were going to yoga class to perfect your tree pose, but instead, you emerge from the studio with a heaping dose of newfound knowledge about yourself, others, and the world around you. If you stick with your practice and keep an open mind, there are so many life lessons you'll learn from yoga — after all, you are your own best teacher, and each time you get on your mat, you're meeting and rediscovering yourself in totally new ways.

If everything I'm saying sounds like a big load of spiritual hippie BS, I feel that. I used to think yoga was nothing more than a workout that made me more flexible, and hey, if you're only coming to the practice for the physical benefits, that's more than OK.

But, for me, what started as merely another form exercise, gradually turned into an opportunity to show up for myself in ways that I never imagined I would be able to. My practice, which has gently held my hand through mental illness, heartbreak, loss, and the most turbulent of life changes, constantly reminds me that I'm stronger than I'll ever give myself credit for.

If you stick with your personal practice, I guarantee you'll learn things that you never dreamed would come out of sinking into a downward dog or holding a warrior II. Take it from these five yogis: The physical poses are honestly the least interesting thing about the practice; rather, they are the gateway to acceptance, self-love, and unconditional compassion. Here's what your yoga practice can really teach you.

Your Thoughts Shape Your Reality

"The biggest life lesson that I've learned from yoga is how much my thoughts control my reality," Beth Brombosz, a yoga teacher, running coach, and writer based in Oklahoma, tells Elite Daily over email. "When I first started my yoga practice, I'd naturally find myself focusing on how difficult a pose felt or how my muscles were shaky or sore. That led to a lot of unnecessary suffering."

Over time, Brombosz explains, yoga helped her learn how to take control of her thoughts to release the negative ones that weren't serving her. "Instead of focusing on how much my quads were burning in warrior II, I could simply let go, focus on my breath, and be in the moment without all of the suffering," the yoga teacher says.

Brombosz says that when she pulled that lesson off of her mat and into her real life, it was a total game-changer. She knew she didn't have to stress out about the negative things in her life; it was all a matter of her mindset. "Instead, I could think about the things I could control and let go of everything else," she says.

Your "Weaknesses" Are Actually Your Strengths

Your "weakness" might just become your biggest strength, if you stay on your mat long enough to realize it. Anastasia Sharova, a life-long yoga practitioner and creator of the blog Happily Globalized, says that she started learning new things about herself as soon as she began her practice. "I struggled with tight hamstrings, and my desire to stretch as much as possible has inevitably led to a painful injury," Sharova tells Elite Daily over email. "The injury, however, was a blessing in disguise: Through practice, I learned to be gentle to myself, to feel my body, and compare my own progress with no one else's, but my own."

And that, my friends, is what yoga is all about.

It Feels SO Good To Be Completely Still

"One of the greatest lessons that yoga taught me was the power in being still," business and life coach Charlene Corpus tells Elite Daily over email. "Savasana might look like you’re napping, but being completely present in that moment, yet relaxed, lets you journey within."

Stillness draws the benefits of yoga out from the physical body and into your spiritual being. "In savasana, we practice surrendering to life," Corpus explains. "By doing so, we create space within to experience peace, even for just a few moments."

Nothing At All Is Permanent In Life

Thanks to her yoga practice, Hillary Wright, an international yoga and meditation instructor and director of continuing education at Y7 Studio, learned that everything in life, no matter how permanent it may feel in the moment, is always subject to change.

"Nothing lasts forever, whether it’s a pose, an injury, a plank; nothing is fixed," Wright tells Elite Daily over email. "In yoga, and in life, we like to attach to what we like and to avoid what we don’t like. But when we’re in the middle of a yoga practice, we realize that everything is constantly in flux."

Ultimately, Yoga Teaches You To Be A Better Person

Brendon Abram, a yoga teacher, Canadian Forces veteran, and author of the book Teaching Trauma-Sensitive Yoga, says that sometimes, in a moment of reflection, he wonders how he managed to move through life without the awareness he's now found through his yoga practice. "Yoga has taught me how to live my life in a way that celebrates kindness and compassion, and acknowledges how very important it is for me to accept myself for who I am," he tells Elite Daily. "It has taught me the importance of treating others in exactly the same way."

Abram also shares one of his favorite quotes about mindfulness from meditation teacher and author James Baraz:

Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).

And that is exactly what yoga has taught Abram, me, and eventually, you, too.