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“New Month. New Beginning. New Mindset. New Focus. New Start. New Intention. New Results.”

The end of summer has always felt like the end of the year to me. The preceding weeks of longer days lived at a slower pace leave us refreshed and restored. We have rested, taken a break from our regularly scheduled life, perhaps eaten better, and hopefully had a little extra fun. Thanks to this, we reach the end of August reinvigorated and ready to jump into the fall with energy and enthusiasm.

As much as the end of August feels like year’s end, September feels like a tremendous beginning. For those of us who grew up here in the US, September brings the first day of a new school year. As a mother, this time of year is still all about “back to school.” September has its traditions at our house all tied to the new year. School shopping. A last burst of effort on summer reading that has been ignored for much of the summer. The annual “big clean” – closets, bookshelves, backpacks, and so on. All designed to get us ready for the “Big Day” and beyond.

Even as a professional with no children, “back to school” energy shifted me into a higher gear. September always felt like the “right” time to clean up my desk, get organized, and to hold team meetings to get us pumped up for the busy season ahead. More often than not, it was at this time of year that we would begin work on big, new projects that had been on hold until everyone was back from their vacations.

As a yoga instructor, this time of year is rich with new students embarking on the beginnings of their yoga journey. Like children and young adults embarking on a new school year, or a professional taking the first steps in a massive new project, these new yoga students feel a mix of excitement and nerves. Whether developing a yoga practice is a long-held goal or an idea that flashed into mind yesterday, beginning students tend to show up with an excited smile and a heightened energy.

Also like the kids and professionals mentioned above, new yoga students’ excitement tends to be mixed with some trepidation. Beginnings are, as a matter of course, a step into the unknown. As happy as a student may be to embark on a new beginning, it is typical for them to also feel some hesitation and a sense of doubt. Some worry about not being able to do a posture. Others about not being strong enough. Still others about not being bendy enough.

And they may find that they are not strong or bendy or coordinated. They might discover other struggles or weaknesses they haven’t even thought about worrying about. But it won’t matter.

That’s right.

It won’t matter.

In fact, whatever challenges they must face within their new beginning – the struggle will be good for them. The same is true for you.

One of my favorite yoga authors, Rolf Gates, says it beautifully. “The obstacles on the path are the path. Every time we stretch beyond our resistance and our fear, we make the choice for life. And every time we choose life, we find that fear loses its grip on us. We all know more than we think we do, and we are stronger than we believe ourselves to be. We come to our [yoga] mats, and to our lives, to learn by going where we have to go.” (Meditations from the Mat, p. 28)

If our mission in life is to stretch ourselves, to grow and to change, then challenges and obstacles are the stuff of life. Nothing has taught me this lesson more viscerally or more vividly than my yoga practice. On my mat I have learned that it is possible to set aside fear and worry and simply try. Yoga teaches that failure – even a spectacular failure that leaves you flat on your back – is nothing more than the opportunity to try again. Do so, and I guarantee you that one day you will surprise yourself and do whatever it is you’re learning to do!

Life, it turns out, isn’t much different than yoga. Your path will at times seem paved with challenges and obstacles. Your path will almost always be leading you into the unknown. Take a deep breath. Choose to stretch beyond your fear or worry. As you do, you will be choosing to grow into your life and into your potential. Which is exactly what you’re meant to do.

As you head out into whatever new beginning September holds for you, take a deep breath and remember that the obstacles, challenges and struggles along the way are your path. As you walk it, you’re becoming the person you’re meant to be.