March 23, 2013

Learning to Approach Life the Same Way You Approach the Mat. ~ Kathleen O’Hagan

The Vinyasa Life

I have been practicing yoga every day for over a month now. It was something I intended to practice for the sake of my sanity while completing my B.A. in Liberal Studies. Although I am a full-fledged yogi now, I tend to go in phases with my fitness. One month I love running, the next I’m a ballerina, now I am on my mat every day trying to stick a handstand.

Last summer I was really into hot Vinyasa and Bikram. During one hot Vinyasa class, my teacher mentioned that the way you approach your mat and your yoga practice represents how you approach your daily life. I brushed it off thinking there was no way I projected on the yoga mat. But as our practice went on, I began to realize that it was true.

I was mimicking some of the habits in my daily life.

As we began our practice, I started out so strong as usual. I mastered every pose fiercely—doing my best chaturanga to upward dog to downward dog vinyasa. The flow felt amazing and the heat felt fantastic.

Then around 45 minutes in, I started to fade.

Granted, this was a hot Vinyasa class, during the summer, so it was hot in there. But I still felt like I shouldn’t have been fading, and at 25 years old, I should definitely be strong enough to get through an entire hot yoga class!

It all became clear. As my favorite teacher Renee would say, I had been blowing my yoga load in the first 45 minutes.

As I started to work on changing this slowly in the next classes, I began to reflect on how I do this in my daily life.

It happens with my fitness habits. I run and run and run until I get tired of it and decide to change gears. I’ll do ballet twice a week and then a month and a half later, I’m over it. I’ll get my mind wrapped around something new and am so passionate about it that it is the only thing I can focus on for the coming weeks.

In some aspects, these are great qualities to have. I am ambitious and focused when I find something that consumes me. But I usually end up burning out. I start a lot of things, but don’t tend to finish them. It happened with my education. I have wanted to be so many things, but have burned out with those as well.

Until now.

Yoga has taught me how to not burn myself out. To take it one day, one hour, one minute at a time. And it all started by practicing this on my mat.

My theory was, if I could slow down in my yoga practice and enjoy the entirety of the class, I would then master that in my daily life.

Almost a year later, I am back in school, tackling 20 credits, a part-time job in NYC, looking for teacher trainings and launching a health coaching business.

Am I still passionate about all of these outlets? Of course I am, but I have learned how to contain that fire, preserve it and let it burn even longer.


Kathleen O’Hagan is a Holistic Health Coach, aspiring yoga teacher and miracle worker in progress. And this is just her hobbies. She is also a full-time student, SUNY Purchase Wellness Center Intern and a personal assistant in New York City. She dreams of spreading nutrition, yoga and self love across the world through any outlet she can.


Like elephant yoga on Facebook.

Asst. Ed: Amy Cushing
Ed: Brianna Bemel

Read 19 Comments and Reply

Read 19 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Elephant journal  |  Contribution: 1,375,490