How to apply yoga philosophy to my practice?

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Yoga has never been part of my life until Covid hit us globally. I was getting increasingly stressed at work and there was seemingly no avenue to release my stress. With lock-down and social gathering activities greatly reduced/minimised, I was lost. It was then when I discovered the beauty of Yoga. 

Fast forward 2 years later, I took a plunge and signed up for a yoga TTC course as I have fallen in love with yoga. Prior to taking the course, I had no clue about the philosophy of yoga – it was just practicing and trying to master new poses gradually. Now that I have learnt a little bit more about yoga and its philosophy, these are my reflections on how to apply it. 

Have faith in the practice

Even though I may become a teacher very soon, I am reminded every day that I am a student first. There is still a lot of work to be done – working hard on my core and shoulder strength to get into postures such as Crow pose (Bakasana), Handstand and headstand. I have no idea when I can eventually achieve these poses.  It may be 2 months from now or even 2 years later. What is important is the practice (or ‘Abhyasa’) itself.

Abhyasa is a Sanskrit word meaning “practice” and refers to a practice that aims at achieving a tranquil state of mind. Sage Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras, explains the importance of abhyasa and vairagya (detachment) to achieving a yogic state of mind.

Patanjali defines abhyasa as the practice or discipline that is used to attain and remain in a state of harmony with the self. The great sage recommends three essentials for practicing abhyasa: practicing for a longer time, practicing without interruption and staying committed to the practice.

While it is no easy feat to be disciplined in our practice (especially when you have a demanding job!), it is important for us to have faith in our daily practice. 

One important mental note that I have learnt through my yoga journey is the importance to pick yourself up when we fail. Do not give up on practicing and it is ok to get up and try again. One day, we will eventually succeed.