Having to juggle both work and full time YTT together, it really forced me to learn to make full use of my time and prioritize all my tasks. I entered the course with the optimism that I would not have much issues given that it was going to be a lull period for me at work. However, it was a rude awakening when I realized how much I had underestimated the time and effort one had to put in for it.
Coming to the end of the course, I found that I have managed to weed out so many activities that only served to help me pass time but did little to add value to my life (like mindlessly scrolling through social media or watching television). Productivity came not only from the removal of unnecessary activities, but also with proper planning of each day. This gave me a clear overview of how I was to spend each day and what pockets of time I had to squeeze in some extra studying or sneak in some rest time.
Though it was thoroughly draining, both mentally and physically, to have to be fully present and alert for more than 14 hours a day, it was also refreshing to see how we are able to push our body and mind this much (and maybe even more). This month has truly been a test of how much I could stay focused on the goal (to get through YTT) despite all the distractions around and how much I could persevere through the fatigue.
This has definitely made a positive impact on my lifestyle and how I will approach my days even after YTT is over. It is amazing how much one can learn and grow even in a short span of a month and I can only be thankful of the experience I got out of it.
Ever heard the phrase “you are what you eat”? It is a concept that is easy to understand but not everyone is conscious of the foods they put into their bellies. Whether you live to eat or eat to live, there should be no compromise on the quality of our foods. That does not mean that the more expensive a food is the higher the quality of it, we should be looking at how it affects the body and yoga gives us some guidelines as to what food are more suitable for a stronger, healthier and cleaner body.
In yoga, we divide food into saatvic, rajasic and tamasic. Saatvic food are mainly food that increase vitality, energy, vigour, health and joy, and are categorized as food that are fresh and organically produced, eaten in as natural a state as possible. Rajasic food are food that overstimulate the body and bring a restless state of mind, such as heavily spiced food. Lastly, tamasic food are said to be food that make a person lazy and dull like meat, fish and all intoxicants.
It is clear to see that yoga encourages that shift towards a vegetarian diet. But as mentioned earlier, these are purely guidelines to help you understand why these food are better suited for the body since they help bring more clarity to the mind and introduce less toxins to the body. It is not a preach to convert all humans to become vegetarians but for everyone to strive towards showing more love towards their body and thus choosing the right kinds of food to nourish it appropriately.
So the next time you are choosing between reaching for those 3 servings of meats to eat with your rice, why not try 1 or maybe even 2 servings of vegetables instead? Start small. There is no need to entirely cut other types of food. But the idea here is to reduce your intake of rajasic and tamasic food to replace with more saatvic ones as much as possible. Give it a month or two, see the change it brings to your body and mind, and hopefully you would feel the lightness it brings and come to love the food that nature has provided for us all this time in the purest and most natural ways.
With the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we tend to find it hard to calm our minds and settle comfortably within ourselves. Social norms and rules have also shaped us to be extra critical not only of others but of ourselves too. Which is why the need for a place of silence is even greater now than ever before and what better way to create such spaces than within ourselves?
Meditation (Dhyana) is a way we can do just that for ourselves. It helps us learn to block out distractions and disturbances whilst calming the mind and soul. It is the time we can take to reflect on ourselves and things that happen around us. When we direct our focus inward, we feel invigorated yet relaxed at the same time. The power of the mind is strengthened and we learn to love and appreciate ourselves and the universe that little bit more.
We tend to give ourselves excuses like not having free time during the day or not being able to sit and meditate for a long time. However, meditation does not necessarily have to be done for hours on end to be effective. Even a short 5 minutes a day before stepping out of your house would suffice to center and prepare yourself to tackle the rest of the day. It is simply choosing to make the conscious effort to dedicate an extra 15 minutes to yourself daily (though preferably in the morning).
Choose to work on you because self love, time and space are the best things you can gift yourself. Remember you are always worth the time and effort!
Even before the start of my YTT journey, I had many doubts whether I could handle the poses with the injury I had. The fear of worsening the injury further and just the thought of having to apply pressure on it gave me little confidence that I would be able to do anything.
However, through the course of my YTT, I have learnt that a limit like an injury is not always a bad thing. What was more important was how I faced it head-on and pushed myself whenever possible. Working within limits did not mean that I was weak. It meant that I needed to know when my body needed to rest and learning how to better listen to what my body was trying to tell me. It also meant that I needed to be more aware of the right alignment and exercises to facilitate recuperation.
It was all a matter of finding balance. Strength versus flexibility, both physically and mentally. How working on strengthening my weak areas around the injury, brought relief to the injury itself. How changing my mentality and allowing myself more time to improve, gave me space to recover. How it pushed me to find the balance between giving up with the excuse of an injury and stopping just at the right moment to prevent worsening the injury. Despite the fact that the injury still causes inconveniences and I still hold back on poses from time to time, I am grateful to have improved the condition of and my outlook towards the injury throughout the duration of the course.
It was truly a timely reminder that limitations are not there to stop your growth but for you to learn ways to overcome it and come out even stronger than before. Believe that you can too!