How Yoga can Teach us Acceptance

Yoga class theme: Acceptance

Acceptance is a key element of mindfulness. So, in a yoga class, we want to cultivate acceptance.  This not only means we accept whatever we find externally in the moment… the sound of the trucks going by,  the cobweb I can see in the corner, my cat meowing so he can enter the room and interrupt the class (all MY distractions!). It means we accept ourselves exactly how we are.  It means we let go of judgment and expectations and attachment to the outcome. It means we let go of striving. 

There are not many people who could say that they accept themselves exactly as they are. In Western society, we are all about striving. We have been conditioned that we need to strive to achieve, make lots of money, garner respect and adoration, or maybe leave a legacy.  This has ego written all over it… and you don’t need me to tell you that the ego has no place/doesn’t exist when you are ensconced in the present moment, especially when Eckhart Tolle does that so well.
(Let me just leave this here for you to mull over, too: Perfection doesn’t exist. It’s impossible to achieve.)

So, in a yoga class, we accept what is happening with our bodies and move from there, meeting ourselves where we are at, focusing, and being hyper-aware of: Sensation, our edge, and how we are feeling energetically. These things change as we move through the class,  but we accept what we find in the moment, and move from that place. 

We accept our thoughts and emotions as they come up. We let them rise and pass without adding to thoughts or thinking further about why we are feeling a certain way. 

We accept and stay with any discomfort in the poses (Discomfort, but NOT PAIN). This is a lesson we can take off the mat into our lives, because there is quite often discomfort in life. We learn to stay with the discomfort, instead of trying to escape it. We use all sorts of things to escape discomfort. The truth is you have to face the discomfort eventually anyway. The only way to escape it is to go through it.

There is a distinction between discomfort and pain in Yoga. We need to find our edge and not push past it, because beyond our edge lies pain. Often, striving, self-judgment and expectations send us beyond our edge into pain.

Acceptance pairs nicely with both mindful self-compassion and gratitude. Once we accept ourselves, what is here and how we are,  in the present moment, we can raise our vibration by cultivating gratitude for what is — each breath,  just being alive, being a sentient being, LIFE itself…

Practice …


“I am enough”

“I am worthy”


Try Dr Kristen Neff’s self-compassion practices

Poses to Include in the Yoga Practice

Poses that can get uncomfortable, like Frog Pose (Mandukasana).

Any pose that can be held until sensation increases and discomfort occurs. (This is subjective, but the idea is to connect with the sensations in the body without judgment of those sensations, and stay with any discomfort that arises.)

Savasana can teach us to accept and not fear our inevitable physical death

Corpse pose (Savasana) is all about acceptance. We accept that we are going to die physically. It is a death of fear, of the ego. In this pose, we cultivate a stillness, practise mindfulness and allow the Yoga practice to integrate, body,  soul, and mind.