My prior concept of yoga was merely stretching and being “zen”, so it did not quite appeal to me as someone who has extremely short attention span and does not like being still. Now looking back at this 2+ years of practice – I had to stop for quite some time as I was getting shoulder dislocation and a shoulder surgery from another physical activity – I realized how I have progressed mentally and emotionally through my physical practice.
Yoga has helped improve my mental and emotional wellbeing unintentionally through Asana practice. During the initial stages, I found myself getting easily frustrated when I am unable to do a pose and would constantly find competition in classes, like being the lowest eagle pose in class or show that I can do my twisting poses with ease. However, it did not bring fulfilment to my practice. My hunger to do better felt weirdly insatiable. My basic poses weren’t even comfortable to hold, yet I was trying to move on to other things.
I realized something was missing, and that it lied within myself, so slowly but surely, I tried to focus on nothing in the room but myself. I started with giving myself more space and leeway, telling myself that it is alright to skip a flow if I am exhausted, and to use blocks to assist myself if necessary. Instead of beating myself up, I could better recognize what I could do to improve myself. I started to learn that I am on a race only with myself, whether in yoga or in life. My mindset shifted to one that was focused on self-improvement without comparison. It helped me recognize that it was alright to be on a different speed and different journey from others, as we have our own strengths and weaknesses, that the final destination is different, and even raise a question: ‘Does the final destination even matter?’. The journey of learning, failing and picking oneself up to me is the meaning of life.
Through Asana practice, I became more emotionally stable in terms of how I view myself and others. I was able to I feel joy instead of envy for others when they are able to master poses quicker than me and I feel more content from my own practice. Though I have yet to perfect controlling my emotions, I have learnt to identify them and reflect on them. Being alone but not feeling lonely has been one of the biggest takeaways through my yoga journey these 2 years as I begin to appreciate alone time more and more.
Moving forward, I hope that I could better identify moments when my mind becomes fleeting and be able to train my mental grit and stamina. Emotionally, I want to slowly move towards to controlling my angsty nature and learning to manage my tone and pace. 🙂