This fall, Live in the Grey is partnering with lululemon athletica to help you Live Your Best Life. Step one? Sweat it out.
In its most basic form, sweat is your body keeping itself cool. But when you’re in the middle of a jog or a yoga pose or a repetition, pushing yourself to the next level, it’s also a physical reminder of your hard work. It can be your best motivator.
If you’re working hard on your career, chances are you encounter your fair share of stress. You may not always find time to slow down and think about how to live your best life. Enter exercise and sweat.
Not only can exercise help de-stress you and lift your mood, but doing it through a form like yoga can put you in the right mindset to live with purpose.
To really understand what this meant, I visited Lyons Den Power Yoga studio in TriBeCa to attend their hot power yoga class. I wanted to learn how sweating through yoga helps New Yorkers find balance in their lives and careers. Here are five motivating insights they shared:
1. Yoga can help you make important life decisions
Owners John and Bethany opened Lyons Den in 2013 to create a community around their passion for yoga. “I have a tendency to dive way too much into work,” John told me. Yoga has always helped him create a space for his thoughts. “Now I’m able to create a space for our students where they can step away from the rest of their lives and engage in creative inquiry.”
John says many of his students have used yoga to make important life decisions, like quitting jobs that weren’t right for them or asking for promotions.
“What happens on the mat is what happens in real life. So if you’re scattered, you’re checked out, if you’re not breathing, chances are that’s what’s happening in the real world. As people find a sense of balance in the yoga room and start to develop confidence, it carries over into the decisions that they’re making for their life and their work.”
2. Starting your day on a positive note helps everything else fall into place
We’ve all heard the expression getting up on the wrong side of the bed. You can also be proactive about starting your day off right. I asked students from the 7:30am class how their early morning classes affected the rest of the day:
- “I’ve been doing yoga for 10 years. It makes me feel really grounded, like I can face the day.” -Nikki
- “My mindset is more at ease. I have an easier time interacting with people at work because I feel calmer. I don’t feel as on edge.” – Casey
- “I work for a site called Refinery29 and it’s very fast paced. Yoga helps me clear my mind. It slows it all down and reduces stress. It’s a great fresh start to the day.” – Caitlin
3. Clearing your mind can be liberating
Some of my most stressful moments happen when I’m overwhelmed by thoughts. It’s like an inability to stop my mind from racing from one thought to the next, whether it’s my to do list, my expectations or my concerns.
The best way to combat this kind of stress is to find a way to clear your mind completely. As my instructor, Terri, explained, “Yoga started out as meditation, but the yogis realized that it was too hard to sit still. There were too many voices in their minds. They started moving their bodies so that their physical body would relax and their minds would open.”
Through the process of movement, you can find peace even during chaotic moments in your life. It’s all about reaching what Terri referred to as blue sky mind. “How much blue sky can you see until a cloud comes by?” she asked me. What a great question to help self-assess your level of mental peace.
4. Lessons learned in yoga can bleed over into the rest of you life
During my time in the studio, everyone kept telling me how connected their practice of yoga was to the rest of their lives. This can be pretty impactful in a place like New York City. “There’s a lot of tension around living in a city that’s so busy with so many people. Just to be reminded that you can slow down is important. It’s not a race,” Terri told me. Throughout the yoga class, she shared mantras that helped us with poses but also symbolized a larger attitude on life.
“How you do anything is how you do everything,” she repeated when instructing us to let go of the stress in our shoulders.
Nikki, who was in my class, said this makes a difference outside of the studio, too. “One of the things I heard the other day is ‘suffering is just one of your options.’ I took that line and applied it throughout the rest of my day.”
5. If you can brush your teeth every day you can make time for yoga
One of my biggest struggles is finding the time to every week to sweat, whether it’s through yoga or something else. I asked owner John how he advises others who have this problem. Here’s how he thinks about it:
“Somehow everyday you find five minutes to brush your teeth. And we don’t think ‘Oh my god, I don’t have time to brush my teeth.’ Because if you didn’t you’d have bad breath and people would notice and you just couldn’t have that. That comes out of a concern for looking good for others. We have to cultivate that same sense of honoring our own bodies and just say, ‘my yoga or my physical practice is the same as brushing my teeth.’ Apply that same intention where it’s not negotiable, and it’ll happen.”
By the end of my class, it felt like I had let go of more than the stress in my shoulders. Starting the day off with so much awareness, as Terri references in the quote above, kept me focused on what I really needed to accomplish for the day. I’d love to hear from you: How do you use sweat to live a better life? Let us know on social media using #LYBL and @livegrey.
Photos courtesy of Lyons Den Power Yoga.