One day, I got bored and decided to finally do what I’ve always wanted to try. Yoga. There’s always been something about yoga that mystifies me. The peace, coordination, balance, strength, and flexibility that yogis have are beyond my thought process. Every time I look at them, I see radiance, peace amid humanly impossible body contortions.
My first yoga class wasn’t that bad. It was the restorative kind called Yin yoga. That same day after the session, I ended signing up for a membership, and enroll in a yoga beginners course.
Of course, I couldn’t silence all the jabbering in my mind with one yoga session. It wasn’t easy. There was something about zen environments that due to its perceptible silence, the clatter inside me somehow became louder. What an irony what silence could give, I thought.
As my eyes were shut in a “savasana” position, I was encouraged to pay attention to my breathing and to sink deeper into a state of relaxation where even the senses could not permeate. My mind, like a rebel in all its glory, did not cooperate. Thank you very much.
THE DAY OF MY FIRST YOGA BEGINNERS COURSE
It was such an education. I learned about the so called “ashtanga”, or the eight limbs of yoga. These were the commandments of yoga towards finding purpose and meaning. One thing was clear, yoga is more than just the “asanas”. It is an integration of three key components – mind, body, and spirit.
I realised first and foremost that yoga is a commitment. It is a way of life. It is not an aesthetic driven form of fitness. It is not a quick fix to clear the mind of sorrows and anxiety because for one thing, with yoga practice, you will be forced to confront them. And you will be tested mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Yoga is a commitment.
In the four weeks of daily “asana” practice, my patience and endurance were challenged. I discovered a new level of awareness of my body particularly what needed conditioning. It was difficult, and often I would get frustrated for not being able to execute the poses well. I could not engage the right muscle group to work together. And I couldn’t count the number of times I have put my body to extreme limits in order to get the poses right, which ended up with a general feeling of soreness in all areas of my body. Therefore, it is a commitment to discipline.
Yoga is a way of life.
The eightfold path of yoga or the “ashtanga” (google it!) as abovementioned, serves as a precedent to bring together the mind, body, and spirit. The “asana” is only one of the eight. There are factors within the principles of “ashtanga” that tackles about one’s moral and ethical standards; conduct and integrity; and awareness and discipline. This means that the practice of yoga is not limited to being able to perfect the poses. Therefore, it will make you a better person too.
Yoga is not an aesthetic driven form of fitness.
One thing I love about yoga is that it never talks about muscle definition and losing weight. I never met someone who wants to do yoga to lose weight as opposed to going to the gym and other form of physical workouts. Not that it is wrong. I think that we have the freedom to do what we desire and a freedom to choose for ourselves whether it is for health or aesthetic.
Health and fitness can take any form, and who am I to say otherwise. What I’m trying to say is that with yoga, it is more than just the physical aspect. It is also a mental and spiritual journey. Losing weight and muscle definition in yoga may only be a side effect of long-term practice. But it is not a guarantee because it is not what it is all about. In fact, it diverges from that principle.
Therefore, if your purpose is ONLY to lose weight and to have a killer body then yoga is not for you.
Yoga is not a quick fix to clear the mind of sorrows and anxiety.
I always think of yoga as a mind emptying practice, but my yoga instructor (Pascale) said that it is not. It is simply a cycle of meditation and conscious reality in a loop, and for this reason it is possible to separate a part of the self in order achieve discernment.
Yes! Yoga does help in this department (battles, miseries, sorrows, anxieties – name it!) but not without confronting them first. One of the reasons why I finally gathered the strength to start yoga was because of a heartbreak. I couldn’t last an hour without being visited by thoughts of the person I wanted to forget. I knew I had to do something, and yoga was always something that I kept telling myself I would do even before all the love fiasco came about.
I realised during my four week of practice that yoga does not help you clear your mind. It allows you to confront your inner battles. It allows you to step back and gain a clearer insight of the whole picture. And that can mean you have to break yourself first before you heal.
The difficult body poses (asanas), although develop strength, flexibility, and discipline, also center around concentration that is necessary in meditation. This means, in my opinion, that the brain reroutes your train of thought into focusing on your body movements, muscles stretching, and breathing. And this, with great difficulty, can be a way to purge all the negativities you contain inside.
Therefore, it is a continuous journey to healing and improving oneself. And I find that, until today, I am not healed yet. But I hope one day I will be.
*Disclaimer: These thoughts and realisations are based on my experience. These are all my opinion. It has just been four weeks ago when I started my yoga practice, and I don’t claim to be an expert in this subject matter. This is me speaking from my heart.