What does Yoga truly mean to me?

Now that I am about 3/4 way into the 200-hour YTT, I feel more prepared to write about this topic that has been in my drafts for the last couple of weeks.

My thoughts about Yoga has been evolving. From when I first started, it was a fitness routine. It had also led me to find a community that made my overseas work assignment feel like my second home (if you’d read my earlier post, you’ll see why). In this world of busy-ness, whereby our schedules are packed tighter than sardines in a can, I find that yoga has led me to become more introspective. By looking deeper into my thoughts and what that inner voice is trying to tell me to do – and this could be as simple as breathing.

For anyone that thinks that Yoga is simple, I would urge you to think again and to think deeper. Yoga as a subject matter is a union, that connects us with the wider universe that we are a part of. I used to be so caught up with plans, schedules and maximising every second of my life, pushing harder, pushing deeper. Whereas the me today takes a more adaptive approach towards life. It does not need to have a plan for every second, though a general longer term plan is still my guide.

In addition to working towards a deeper practice, I particularly enjoy learning about the philosophies of yoga. I was never quite a philosophical person, but I found through yoga, that I am actually pretty reflect-ive as a person. I enjoy learning about the wise words of those who have contemplated so much about life. Beyond the physical practice, I enjoy learning more about the unknowns. How we are connected to this universe in past, present and future lives, how continuous hard work together with building faith will lead us to success and more importantly, knowing that there is almost never an end to this learning journey.

What have I learnt from Yoga?

In my last 2 posts, I explored the topics of why i started yoga and how yoga fits into my lifestyle. In this post, I hope to reflect a little more on my journey thus far. Specifically, what I have learnt from Yoga.

Firstly, I am blessed to have embarked on this yoga journey. Through yoga, I have built connections with people and more importantly, a stronger body and mind. In part, my personality / character is one that when I am truly interested and passionate about a topic, I drill deep and I drill hard. What this means is, developing a strong understanding through personal experience. Basically, I want to try it all, learn it all and do it well.

In terms of learnings, I have 2 key takeaways – consciousness about the “now” and detachment.

Through Yoga, I have learnt about the importance of being conscious. Specifically, being conscious about the “now”, in the present moment. I don’t know how many categories or types of people there are out there, but I am a thinker. I think and I wonder. But at the same time, my thoughts could float from one topic to another easily. Something can happen during the day and I would reflect on it later at night. I recall in my earlier days of practice, contrary to how yoga should be practiced, I find my thoughts lingering from a mix of important tasks to do after practice to reflecting on a particular moment that had happened recently in my life. By shifting this focus now more onto my practice, I find that it has helped with my focus in my tasks and my thought process. Not to let clutter find its way into my brain and to focus on living in the now.

Through Yoga, I have also learnt about detachment. I find this learning particularly useful when I detach from things that are not within my control. I used to be very hung up on negative experiences. In part, I dislike saying no. When things do not fall in place, I get upset or angry. However, I start to experience a shift in my perspective of things as my Yoga practice deepens. There are always things that will not be in one’s control. I still feel some emotions whenever things do not go according to plans. However, I find myself being able to get out of these situations a lot faster now than before.

How Yoga fits into my Lifestyle

Ask me 1.5 years ago and I would possibly never have thought that I would be doing Yoga.

Fast forward 1.5 years later, I am committed to a physical practice of 5 – 6 times a week and am currently enrolled into a 200-hour YTT course. In my previous post, I have shared the Why into my yoga journey. In this post, I would like to share about how Yoga fits into my lifestyle.

There are a few things that I spend most of my time on, which truly matters to me. Yoga, work, family / friends. My life as a whole works on a pretty dynamic pace, with deadlines, stresses and a particular routine, given that I hold a corporate office job. I enjoy it but I feel that I need some “grounding” or stability too, something that I can find meaning beyond short term goals or targets, something that I feel that I am personally working on for the longer term.

My almost daily morning yoga practice (almost daily because it is important to have 1 rest day as well) helps me develop discipline, which I have always believed in. Ashtanga is my primary practice, which I love its routine-like nature and the focus on working on each pose. In addition, I enjoy how this practice has allowed me to take my mind off its constant thinking mode – from tasks to to-do lists, it allows the mind to quieten down, which is a great complement to my hectic lifestyle.

There are however, still things that I want to work on – the physical practice should extend beyond the mat. Besides turning up (almost) every morning to practice, there are some things I hope to slowly integrate into my lifestyle to busk in the full benefits of Yoga, which I truly believe in – meditation and having a better diet.

Why did I start Yoga?

This post is about my personal yoga journey, documenting why I started Yoga.

Possibly similar to many, my yoga journey started as a fitness regime. About 1.5 years ago, I was based in Krakow, Poland on an international work assignment. I enjoy having an active lifestyle and running outdoors was not just my go-to workout, I really enjoyed it as it took my mind off whatever stresses I had in life. However, running was not possible when winter started to creep in. I started to research on alternative workout options – gyms, climbing etc.

Coincidentally, I found a yoga studio just a stone throw away (literally 3 minutes if I had walked slowly) from my apartment. I registered for a class that suited my work schedule, which turned out to be an ashtanga primary series led class. What are the chances that the first yoga class that I had signed up for being so tough and challenging? Just to share, the last time I tried yoga was a good 10+ years ago when I was still a teenager. I was warned at the registration counter that it was a tough class, and I thought to myself, GREAT! Exactly what I was looking for, right?

The class turned out to be REALLY challenging both in terms of my strength and flexibility. As a runner, I was very used to working on the lower half of my body. For those of you who have tried Ashtanga yoga (and for those of you who have not), there are COUNTLESS of chaturangas, whereby the strength of the upper body was key. And not forgetting, the number of jump backs and jump throughs as transitions between the seated postures, that focused strongly on the core.

If I recall correctly, it was this feeling of being so beaten that made me want to visit the studio to better my practice, over and over again.

The yoga studio was also a place that I had forged deep friendships with the locals, which made my life in Krakow feel like my second home. What can I say besides, I feel really lucky and blessed to have found yoga. It is a journey that started on fitness but has now developed into a deeper interest and I hope to learn more about yoga, how to apply it to my daily life and hopefully, one day, will be able to enrich the lives of people around me.