Thursday, 24 July 2014

Yoga Saved My Life

When my yoga journey began, I immediately felt and appreciated the physical benefits of yoga. I was a fitness junkie; I ran marathons, taught exercise classes, and caught onto every new workout program. At the time, I thought yoga would just be a small addition to my exercise regime. I began to notice changes in my body simply by adding one yoga class per week. My knees and ankles stopped swelling when I’d run, my balance improved, my hip flexors didn’t ache anymore, and I was becoming more flexible. Since physical health was my priority at the time, I became a huge fan of yoga for everything that it could do for my body.

A year later, I was still practicing yoga, along with all of my other physical activities, when my whole plan backfired. I was over-exercising and under-eating. At 21, my hair was falling out, I no longer had a menstrual cycle, and I was absolutely miserable. Although it took quite a while for me to admit that my “healthy lifestyle” was causing all these issues for me, I eventually recognized that I had a problem. It was at this point that yoga changed my life.

I stopped ignoring my yoga teachers whenever they would talk about the spiritual component to yoga. My practice stopped being about challenging my body and became my source of peace and happiness. I started reading about yoga, developing a personal practice, and meditating. Within a year, my priorities, my lifestyle, and my sense of self changed drastically. I was healthier in every way; my physical body felt better than it ever had, my relationships improved, my stress and anxiety levels were under control, and for the first time in my life I had a spiritual practice.

When I began the teacher training program two years ago, once again, I underestimated the impact that it would have on my life. Yoga is one of those things where, the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. My practice is forever growing, influencing my life in different ways, and teaching me lessons along the way. Yoga has truly saved my life.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

thank you yoga

Yoga has had an incredible impact in my life and has changed it in many ways for the very best. It has allowed for me to be patient as well as self accepting especially the factors of which I have no control. My practice of Asana’s has helped me achieve balance in my life through my breath and body awareness. I attempt to incorporate yoga in my daily living.

The practice of yoga has helped me maintain mental clarity as well my physical strength. I have a better above all sense of self , a truly deep rooted love and passion for the practice and how it has enriched my life for me. Yoga has been something I have been able to rely on and always be blessed with clarity. A perfect marriage of tranquility, peace and love. Yoga inspires me to be ever changing in every aspect of my ever changing world.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

do not abandon the mat in hard times

Yoga offers lessons that you won’t find in a book. These lessons come to mind when I reflect on why I do yoga. It is amazing to see what people can do with their bodies. Many beautiful and inspirational yoga videos are floating around on the internet. But it is the silent and invisible aspects that can only be discovered internally, and which often go overlooked in passing digital bytes. It is difficult to capture and communicate these things.

I have learned that my physical barriers are often created by my mental resistance. Yoga is great for anxiety but if I jump onto the mat without being fully present, letting anxious thoughts float around as I fall into poses, I will not get very far. The experience will not be pleasant either, desperate rather than tranquil. This has been a humbling lesson that I often have to revisit when I want to give up in moments of frustration.

Using breath as energy is another subtle lesson that yoga teaches. Whenever a friend asks me to teach them some poses this awareness is the hardest part to communicate. If I could go back to tell myself all the things I have learned through my practice (with much more to learn), my past self would probably not understand what I was talking about. Breath opens space, and space is all you need sometimes. Even a tiny bit can make a world of difference. One can teach a pose, but it will always be up to the student to explore that pose individually and internally. That exploration is what makes yoga special for me.

Learning to not push too hard has been more challenging than any physical challenge I have encountered. Yoga has taught me that there is more strength in moderation than in completion. I still resist this lesson at times but it gives me something to work with and this is valuable in itself. This notion of moderation contradicts many years of academic education, and beyond that the years spent immersed in modern society. The push to achieve without stopping to consider what is being achieved has been drilled into my brain. Being able to stop thinking and explore a deeper level of awareness is why I do yoga. (A little rebellion against the system is fun too :)

This year of deepening my yoga practice has confronted me with a lot of truths and valuable lessons. Cycles of enthusiasm, overwhelmed tiredness, resistance and surrender have all come and gone. It is true that nothing ever stays the same. And while this can be defeating at times, it can also be humbling to acknowledge that life escapes definition. Don’t abandon the mat in hard times. It is there to teach a lesson even when you feel like rolling up in a ball of self-pity and letting the tension in your body consume you. I will forget all of these lessons and I will remember them again. And there will always be moments that remind me I don’t know the half of it, or any of it. This wisdom that reveals itself bit by bit through internal exploration is why I know I will always want to keep practicing, questioning, and finding peace in humility. And having fun too, there is always lots of that!