Once you’ve done 1,000 consecutive days of yoga, you’re officially a bad-ass yogi. Aaaand you’ve probably learned a thing or two about the yoga lifestyle – lessons that go deeper than rotating your shoulders out during downward dog. Yoga teacher Marielle Ebersol did just that. After two years, eight months and 27 days of hitting the mat daily, Marielle shares a little about her experience, what motivated her to keep on keepin’ on, and the ten yoga life lessons she’s picked up along the way…
Today is one of those days that you dream about. Today, I hit my 1,000th day in a row of practicing yoga. Saying those words out loud I shake my head in disbelief. I can’t believe it. This journey started for me back on January 1, 2013. I had been in a funk and I was tired of the way I was feeling and I decided to do something that led me away from that. I have been practicing for at least 6 years regularly but never day to day. That day I decided to get on my mat and see how many days in a row I could go. I thought maybe I would reach 30, maybe. And then 30 became 60, and then 90, and then 100, and then I just kept going. I started to inspire the people around me and, in turn, I inspired myself. So I kept going. And then I hit other big milestones and there was never a thought in my head as to when I would finish.
Over two and a half years later and I am still at it. Some days I settle into child’s pose for 15 minutes or put my legs up the wall, and that still counts. As long as I am giving myself that time to check in with my breath and slow down, then I am doing it. But the majority of these days have been in a studio for a full practice. And that is where I am happiest. My worries get left behind and I connect with my breath and my body and I allow myself to truly slow down.
Here are ten things I’ve learned on my journey:
How to slow down
This is a big one for me and one that I still work on every single day. My whole life I have always felt like I move at the speed of light. It’s so easy to skip ahead to what may or may not be coming up next or to focus on the past, and yet really, that has nothing to do with this moment. My day-to-day yoga practice has taught me that some days are for slowing down. No one is perfect and I most certainly am not. I make mistakes. I fall down and then I learn. When I get on my mat and I close my eyes, the outside noises get quieter.
Another big one and another one that I am always working on. Learning how to be patient with myself as well as others. Learning to be patient and trust the process and know that things work out just as they should. Learning to take one breath at a time and one day at a time.
I have learned so much about how to have integrity. With myself and with others. Most importantly with myself and knowing when I’m making a decision for the right reasons. Realizing that sometimes having integrity means saying no to certain situations and knowing that yes is not always the best answer. This goes along with my practice and knowing when the right time is for me to go further and when it’s simply better to stick to the basics and allow myself the time to slow down.
This is a big one and one that came up a lot in the beginning of this journey. I think halfway along the way I realized that the only way to appreciate my body was to feel good in what I was doing. Instead of focusing on looking a certain way I decided to just do what felt good and soften my expectations. I have never felt better. And I have never been stronger.
It is so easy for me to forget to breathe and to forget to slow my breath down. I have challenged myself over the years to really watch how much I am talking in all situations. And it is a major work in progress. I try to listen more than I talk, but, of course, that doesn’t always happen. Nobody is perfect. When I come on to my mat and focus on my breath, it immediately becomes slower. And having a daily practice on my mat allows me to slow down my breath so much more off the mat. I can think clearer and listen better when my breath is slower and I’m taking in every word that anyone is saying.
Learning how to trust is a hard one. Trusting the process is something I have fought with time and time again. And yet every single time I just let go and trust, I am reminded how much it works – knowing that every single step during my life has brought me to this one and knowing that every single step going forward is taking me where I need to go. Once you really trust it is amazing to watch things fall into place.
This practice has taught me so so much about gratitude. Gratitude towards every single person in my life. Gratitude for the people that challenge me and gratitude towards the situations that help me to grow. I am so incredibly grateful to all of the yoga teachers that helped to make me the teacher that I am. I try to take a little piece from each of them and infuse it into my teaching and I hope that comes across in my class.
I love surrounding myself with friends and family but often I have forgotten how important it is to spend time with myself. To spend time in the quiet of my thoughts and my breath. My yoga practice has taught me so much about this and how to really appreciate it. I am so much more likely these days to favor a night in with myself then to go off somewhere with a group of people. Being alone with one’s thoughts can be a scary place but I have learned to love it.
Another huge one. This journey has led me into and out of many different kind of relationships. Most of them have been friendships. I’ve had to remember that not all people that come into your life are meant to stay, and learn to forgive them and myself when they do come to an end. I have learned who to surround myself with and to forgive those that do not see eye to eye.
Becoming a teacher I have learned to be more and more empathetic than ever. Being able to see what is going on with a student in class and knowing when to give them their space. Knowing that when we come to the mat things come up and it can be a challenge. I am incredibly sensitive to how others are around me and when someone in my life is going through something I tend to feel it as well, which sometimes can be a huge challenge. But I believe it is one of my biggest strengths.