More than Asanas: Pushing Boundaries, Achieving Personal Best, The Journey Inwards & Beyond

Time flies and we’re on the final lag of the YTT course. It has certainly been a fruitful yet trying journey, one of pushing physical and also mental boundaries.

Those who know me know I’ve got an immense fear of heights and also confined spaces. With that, of course, brings about limitations to certain physical postures that have been impossible for me to do, even with regular practice. Yes, the dreaded sirsasana(headstand). It’s a posture that comes easier to some than others but for me it’s like getting a fish to walk on land. There really is no reason why I would not be able to perform the posture, other than the great fear of falling, which is involuntary and crippling. The fear is real.

I’m very proud to announce that I’ve achieved the impossible (for me at least) and did my first headstand over the weekend in the third week of the course. It’s the ‘I want to stand on top of the mountain and shout, I did it, kind of proud’. The sentiment that with the correct technique, focus and trust in oneself, personal bests and how the impossible can be achieved is not lost on me.

That to me, basically sums up YTT and its’ application to daily life for me. The theoretical aspect of yoga and looking inward on very tough questions like identity, with the practice of Pranayama and Asanas, gives insight and teaches life lessons that might not have been possible to achieve any other way. For me at least.

This journey has definitely been worthwhile and I’ve gained immensely from it. I achieved what I wanted and so much more. The alignment of both physical and mental state of being is a work in progress and something I think will benefit a lot of people. That yoga is more than Asanas & postures. Now that would be something I hope I can share with more people, either through teaching yoga or in some other way. Yoga is here to stay, for me.

Similarities Between a Multi-Tasking Ninja & Teaching Yoga

The connotation of a multi-tasking ninja is no doubt associated with; mothers, an amazing superhuman form who does a multitude of tasks on a 24/7 basis. Whilst definitely not on the same level as a mom, being a female, I take pride in being able to multi-task on a small scale, relatively well. Yes, I’ve gone out and said it, I think us females are better at multi-tasking and in details than our fellow male counterparts. Don’t get me wrong, I think males can get things done well, but just one thing at a time.

The class was exposed to teaching aspect this week, a real exciting yet daunting task. How hard can teaching be right… I’ve gone for my fair share of yoga classes, a few times a week actually and never gave much thought to what teaching really entails.

I joined YTT course for the simple fact that I like the physical aspect of yoga and want a deeper understanding of, not just the asanas, but what yoga really is. I did not except the course to be easy but never thought that teaching could be so challenging.

The class was tasked with teaching sun salutation and the application of posture alignment for it. Doesn’t sound like much on paper, in fact it appears rather fun, but NO. There are so many factors coming into play at the same time; from remembering the sequence of the postures, whether you need to breathe in or out for the postures to paying attention to the students’ postures and making the relevant adjustments… It was mind boggling… Another challenge is the finesse that comes with conducting the class, for instance, alignment of a student’s posture whilst the rest are all holding the pose and absolutely cursing you in their heads. Do not even get me started on having to remember the correct technique to adjusting the postures. Poooffffttt, the bubble that my multi-tasking skills are at a satisfactory level has just burst. Similarly, the stereotypical idea that multi-tasking ninjas are usually females. Look at the number of male teachers out there, who are exceptional at what they do.

To say that I’ve got a newfound respect for yoga teachers and the amount of work involved in teaching is an understatement. Of course, teaching is an art and a skillset that would get better with time and practice. I’m looking forward to honing my skills in that respect, to evolve from a duckling to a multi-tasking swan.

On deeper thought, it is my view that the art of yoga teaching and also yoga teachers on the whole are more like multi-tasking swans than ninjas. Poised, graceful and focused on the surface, but so much more work is going on beneath the surface.

A More In Depth Look Into Yoga

On to our second week, the journey of exploring yoga still proves as intensive as the first, not only physically but mentally as well.

The practice of the different asanas was thankfully not as grueling as the first week but the challenge was looking at each asana at a deeper level, with the correct posture alignments. Whilst I’ve been enjoying the physical benefits of yoga practice, imagine the awakening when I realized I’ve been doing some of the postures wrongly thus far. To be able to pinpoint the errors in my postures and consciously make changes is something I appreciate. To correct postures that one has been doing wrong for an extended period of time is definitely trying, especially when a lot of it is committed to muscle memory.

Being exposed to the theory aspect of yoga is also a highlight as we covered aspects of the Eight Limbs of Asthanga. The concepts are definitely big ones which pushes one to look deep into oneself, with honesty and clarity. The importance of alignment of physical and mental self is a key takeaway and at least for me, a work in progress. To apply the concepts learnt to daily life is surely a journey which requires adjustments from time to time to stay on course, much like driving or flying a plane, to arrive at the destination. Yoga forces one to be honest to oneself and the application of concepts being a daily affair is the beauty of yoga. An anchor that is always there to keep you grounded as long as you embrace it in your life.

It was mentioned in class that yoga is an action and not motion. The physical practice of yoga should be done with focus given to breathing, correct alignment and mental focus to enjoy the full benefits. Who would’ve thought there is so much that goes into asanas. I feel like I’ve been sleeping through my practice and the dots have finally been connected. Of course, the awareness is there that what I’ve learnt so far is only scratching the surface but at least it’s a start.

Let The Adventure Begin: The Exploration of Yoga

My first exposure to yoga was more than a decade back… Gosh, looking back I feel old. I was searching for an exercise regime that is lower in impact but at the same time allowed me to move my body and keep agile.

I really took to yoga after my first class, as the practice of the different asanas kept my body active but at the same time, it was so much more. It offered me the peace and calm I was in search of, albeit just for that 1 hour of class. Being able to empty my mind and just focus on the postures offered me the peace and calm that was so refreshing in today’s fast paced society. Much like what swimming did for me. The stillness and calmness of water enveloping you, and for a moment, time stands still and nothing else matters.

Ever since, I’ve been practicing yoga twice to thrice weekly, for the fitness element of it. I particularly enjoy hot flow classes and also yoga therapy classes. However, two to three years back, I found myself having the recurring query of “there has got to be more to yoga than just these different postures I’m doing”. My understanding of yoga was minimal at best and there was a need for that doubt to be answered.

The need to have a more in depth understanding of the asanas (not just blindly replicating them) and also explore the theory aspect of it is a driving factor as to why I begin my journey on this course. How both parts tie in together, the link between these 2 aspects was something I hope I’ll be able to get from the course.

So far, it has not disappointed. The class this first week was definitely intense and the theory aspects brought about some big concepts that appear contradictory to societal norms and difficult to grasp but definitively thought provoking and pushes one to look deeper into oneself. It has definitely been a tiring week, but an adventure I look forward to embarking and see where it leads me.