I am learning how to lean into tension, breathing into any areas of tightness that I might feel. I am pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, while respecting what my body is telling me. I am gaining flexibility, while letting go of rigidity. I am learning to set an intention for the day’s practice, lending my attention to something I want to work through, draw to me, or simply something I want to gift to myself. I am closing each practice returning to that same intention. I am learning that yoga makes me happy. Happy in the purest way, that is independent from anyone or anything, and unreliant on external circumstances. I float out of each class, no matter how I felt walking in. Stilling my mind, by focusing on my breath, I am steadily gaining strength, and grace as I flow through the postures. I am learning that something quite remarkable happens when I quiet my mind, yet continue to move my body. It is the closest to God I feel without sitting in a pew. For me, it is prayer with movement. When I practice yoga I am my best self. I am enough, perfectly imperfect, joyful, and whole.

Last class my teacher Rozel talked about taking our practice “off the mat”, transferring the principles that we learn in our yoga practice, and applying them in our daily lives. This lesson, like others I’ve learned from her, resonated deeply with me. Simple and true, this is my answer to a life spent chasing the why of my unhappiness instead of focusing on the how of feeling better.   This lesson is implicit in every talk I give, and all of the work that I do with individuals and their families. It is the fabric of my coaching work, and heartbeat of every article I write. If we can learn to lean into the tension, breathing into any areas in our lives where we experience tightness. If we can push ourselves outside of our comfort zones, while listening for cues when we’ve gone too far. If we can gain flexibility, and let go of the rigidity that creeps in when anxiety, and fear take over, and we scramble to control the uncontrollable. If we can start each day with an intention, and close it the same way. If we can still our minds, while continuing to move ahead. If we can feel as close to God as I do in my practice in the ordinary moments that make up our lives. If we can bring the peace that we find in our happy place with us when we leave it… What an inspired life this would be!! This is the HOW OF HAPPY. This is what it means to take it off the mat.

*I invite you to follow me on instagram and twitter @whatconnects_us.

Join me in inspiring others to take it off the mat. Post a quote, or a picture that expresses your how of happy, and be sure to use the hashtags #howofhappy, and #offthemat so that we can all follow along!

My contribution- My latest vision board. Filled to the brim with what brings me joy.






Filed under #offthemat

4 responses to “#offthemat

  1. Cindy

    I soo feel the same way about yoga and how it brings me back to “Cindy” it reminds me of who I am and not what others expect me to be.
    Thank you for always teaching me and reminding me to be true to myself Shannon:)


  2. Kathryn Truant

    Shannon, I was not there to watch you grow as a child, or a young woman, but I love watching you grow into the woman that you are now. I am so proud and inspired by your capacity to grow and learn. You’re “nailing” life!


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