To say I love yoga is an understatement. If I could turn yoga into a person and make them marry me, I would. Although to say the very least, my practice has been less than consistent, yoga has taught me some wonderful lessons about my own life and how I can improve my quality of living. The first one, of course, is to take everything one step at a time.
1.One step at a time
I remember walking into my first yoga class and seeing all these people standing on their heads; contorting themselves into the strangest positions. Having been a notorious failure at the average ‘rolly polly’ during my nursery school days, my first thought was, ‘oh shit on a stick’. My morale didn’t take the greatest turn either during class when I realized some of the most simple-looking poses were actually incredibly hard.
After finally deciding to actually listen to the yoga teachers constant instruction to ‘take it one step at a time’ and ‘not go into a position I am not ready for’ I began to relax into the practice and funnily enough, my progress began speeding up.
In todays’ society, it’s almost as if everything has been turned into a competition and the fastest competitor wins. Yoga has taught me that it’s not always about going fast, it’s not always about winning and that at certain times, taking it slow can actually keep you more productive.
What many people don’t realize is that yoga is not just about transforming yourself into a pretzel-like anthropoid. Breath is an integral part of the practice and crazy enough, an integral part of life!
Yoga releases the creative potential of life. It does this by establishing a structure for self-realization, by showing how we can progress along the journey, and by opening a sacred vision of the Ultimate, of our Divine Origin, and Final Destiny. The light that yoga sheds on life is something special. It is transformative. It does not just change the way we see things; it transforms the person who sees. It brings knowledge and elevates it to wisdom-Guruji B.K.S Iyengar
It’s not as though I hadn’t heard about the power of breath before. There are countless talks I’ve been to and countless pieces of advice which all replicated the same narrative: ‘Just breathe. Just focus on your breathe’ Feeling angry? Focus on your breathe. Feeling like you’re stuck in your head? Focus on your breath. My response to this was always along the lines of ‘Wow. so profound. Let’s get Eckhart in the house quick!’
Although, after really getting in touch with my breath during yoga, in a way that for some reason I hadn’t been able to in a simple sitting meditation, I realized that I was really missing out on something so small but incredibly important.
Focusing on my breath has done wonders for me: it’s kept me from making destructive decisions, it’s helped me sit through some intense anxiety and emotions and most of all its been the door into which I return to the present moment after trailing off into my minds netherworlds.
3. Be flexible
Life is not always going to go the way you’ve planned. Sometimes you need to adjust to suit a situation. Sometimes you need to try a different and more simple route because the one you chose is just not working out. Sometimes you have to put your leg behind your head and scream bloody murder. Whatever life is asking from you in that moment.
4. If you’re letting fear control you, you’re playing small.
I am scared of almost everything. There I said it. People frighten me, phone calls are basically my version of hell and I always imagine the house burning down when I leave it because I may have forgotten to turn the oven off.
I used to hate this about myself but I started to realize that the fact that I was not, for the most part, letting my fears control me, was a sign of strength. The fact that I was terrified of all the upside -down topsy turvy yoga positions, that I imagined my neck cracking every time I attempted one and yet still went for it, made me realize that there is nothing wrong with fear.
In fact, it’s probably been my greatest teacher in terms of stepping into my power. The more I allow fear to control me, the less I reach my full potential and I for one, don’t want to leave this earth having played small.
The funny thing about all of this is that when it comes to yoga, I am incredibly talentless. The wonderful part about the practice is that being good at it is not the deeper point. The point is to connect with your body again, to come home to yourself and remember the divine being that you are; leg half dangling behind your sweaty head and all.