Many times, there are certain poses that we aspire to do. Sometimes the fear of falling holds us back from ever attempting them and other times, we rush into doing that certain pose without being mindful. But most of the time, we all know that that is reckless practice and if anything goes wrong, we’re committing ahimsa to ourselves. I’ve had my fair share of such experiences throughout my physical practices, such as flipping backward and falling flat on my back while attempting a headstand, or falling onto my shoulders while lifting myself into tripod. Thankfully, my body could handle the impact of these falls without any injuries. However, there were a few instances where I sustained minor injuries, such as cutting my lip as I fell onto my face while attempting one-legged crow, or knocking my head against a wall while getting up from wheel unsupported, resulting in a “baluku”.
The bad news about falling is that it can have serious consequences. If we don’t know our bodies well enough to know if it can land a fall safely, or if there is no one to support us in challenging poses, then we are committing ahimsa to our bodies by injuring ourselves.
However, the good news is that falling helps to overcome the fear of attempting challenging poses, and it gave me greater awareness about the limits of my body and balancing points when attempting the poses again. Falling is actually quite a liberating feeling because it’s like overcoming a mental block from “I can never do that!” to “I’ve tried that before (and survived it)!”. I think falling from a pose cannot be avoided in yoga, but falling just once is good enough to erase the fear of attempting challenging poses again and again. And you know that if you keep at it, yoga will eventually reward you. But first, fall safely!!
Doing asanas every day not only has its physical benefit, it also has its mental benefits. I find that my mind has become clearer compared to the first day of YTT, because doing asanas expel any thoughts in my head. Some poses can be really unforgiving, one string of self-doubt and the pose collapses. In that sense, doing asanas forces me to discipline my mind, bringing all my energy and focus to find that balance so I can hold a pose.
Off the mat, I’ve become more aware of my own thoughts, and that I am in control of them. When I catch myself thinking negatively about anything or anyone, it takes discipline and compassion to forgive and to let go, and to replace them with positive thoughts. Because my mind is also less cluttered than before, I feel like my senses have also become sharper. Anything I receive from my senses, I am better able to perceive them as is, and not what I think they should be.
It’s difficult to maintain a clear mind throughout the day, because my mind is so used to multitasking, making opinions, and thinking logically, but doing asanas makes it all go away because it grounds me in the present. There is only that moment, and there is only my breathing.
Although having a mind that is clear and quiet feels foreign to me, I hope that my yoga practise will eventually bring me to a state where I am able to maintain a peaceful mind without the help of any asanas. 🙂
Before joining YTT, my yoga experience was not very deep. My first encounter with yoga was only last year, and I only went for a yoga class because my friends pulled me along. It was only in March where my yoga practise became a weekly affair and although not recommended, I only went for about 20 yoga classes before signing up for YTT. At that time yoga felt like a mindless sequence of movements that made me feel good about going for a fitness class and I couldn’t really feel the physical, mental and spiritual effects that I thought the practise was suppose to bring.
It surprised me that I would even do a YTT because I never imagined myself to do YTT in my life. I just wasn’t a fitness junkie and I hated sweating ahaha. But while experiencing 6 months in a desk bound office job, I jumped into signing up for YTT without thinking much. I just knew that anywhere is better than being in an office. It was really a leap of faith, closing my eyes and diving entire into something I hardly knew anything about. I just knew yoga and spirituality is linked, and that sounded like yummy stuff.
2 weeks in and I found myself revisiting questions I had years ago, questions about our own existence, divinity and what we really want and need in life. All these resonated with me, and not just because it was yummy stuff, but because I always stumbled on trying to find answers to these questions.
Also, doing YTT made me realise that there is more to asanas than just mindlessly going through the motions. It brought greater awareness to me physically and mentally, and helped me to understand that the purpose of doing asanas is to cleanse the mind and body. And really, doing asanas is more of a mental challenge than a physical one. Many times, I felt like my body knew what the feeling of doing a certain pose is like, where the weight should rest and where the strength should come from, but the mind doesn’t remember, and the easiest way to do a challenging pose or to hold it is to really not think at all, which from what I learnt, is also the point of doing asanas.
Now my perception of yoga is that it is a way of life, and I think it will definitely guide me in my own experience of life itself, because I find that so many things in life can be backed by the philosophies and teachings of yoga. I don’t know if I will want to teach yoga commercially next time (because sometimes yoga feels more like a personal practise), but (ok v cheesy here but) I know yoga will teach me and question me about whatever I face in my life.