A life-changing practice
What was your first impression of yoga? When I first started yoga, I took it as a leisure activity that moved my body with some stretching and balancing poses. Nothing too physically demanding or aggressive. This was just nice for me, being a couch potato, who never liked doing any kind of sports. Nonetheless, I am kept being reminded of how a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risks of getting chronic diseases. Therefore, I am so thankful to have found yoga as my go-to exercise in my early twenties.
I like the soothing effects of the simple stretching and twisting poses on my body, the training of focus that brings me the mental and emotional steadiness when practising balancing poses, and how I become more relaxed during each yoga practice. As I progress with my practice, my body becomes more and more flexible. Moving on with more difficult poses, I sometimes ask myself if I am doing the poses correctly to get the benefits out of my practice?
Yoga is not all about the poses. I remember how I enjoyed my first pranayama practice as I managed to unblock my nose with the alternate nostril breathing technique, bringing me a smoother breath and a calmer mind. I remember how I was impressed by the Shanti Mantra when I first heard of it in a yoga class. It was a beautiful chant with the subtle vibration in the air.
Soon, I realized I want to learn more about yoga. I want to learn the correct alignment to prevent any injury and maximize the benefits as I hope to practise yoga for the rest of my life. I also want to learn yoga as a whole, not just the poses, but also the fundamental anatomy knowledge and spiritual aspects. With a leap of faith, I signed up for the 200-hr yoga teacher training course in Tirisula Yoga. Before the training, I was so worried about it as I never learnt headstand and any arm balance poses before. Now, we have come to nearly the end of the training and I know I won’t regret of my decision to join the training. The course has been a holistic personal development that works on my body and mind.
Throughout the training, in order to strengthen my body, I have become more self-disciplined to do body workout. Instead of only doing the exercise during my free time, I will make sure I have spared some time to work on my body daily. I also make time to do meditation and breathing exercise at home in order to reap the benefits from consistent practice. The yoga practice has also increased my self-awareness to maintain a good body posture, manage my facial expression and control my eating habits.
In the past, I always avoided practising inversion pose as I was not used to going upside down and I did not see any benefits of doing so. On the first day of the training, we were asked to do headstand. I am glad I get to learn this beautiful pose as it teaches me lessons more than just going upside down. I have learnt to let go of my fear. Taken from our studio motto, ‘The body achieves what the mind believes’. Sometimes, we just need to let go of our fear and push ourselves out of the comfort zone to overcome the challenges. If you think your body cannot do it, you will easily give up after a few attempts. If you think you can do it, nothing from your mind can hold you back and you will become so determined to turn your body upside down.
Having said that, there were physical limitations that I had to overcome in order to do this pose. I realized my core was too weak and I never learnt how to engage my core. For this, I have focused on abdominal workout to strengthen my core. By learning how to engage my muscles in headstand, I get to control my muscles in this unusual position of going upside down. Together with the controlled breathing we learnt in our pranayama practice, this somehow gives me a sense of gaining control in life, especially during this difficult period of pandemic.
The yoga teacher training also greatly boosts my self-confidence through teaching. For someone who is not comfortable with public speaking, I am thankful to have this opportunity to get to practise teaching in class. By practising backbend such as camel and wheel pose, the physical action of opening my chest has somehow prompted me to mentally open my heart as well. I am more inclined to accept others and focus on bringing kindness to others.
Last but not least, I have also started to do a lot of self-reflection after learning the yoga philosophy in class. I started to think what kind of person I want to become. After learning the concept of ‘desire’, I started to find my motivation to work toward my goals. I also learnt the importance of keeping momentum in every aspect of our life, whether it is daily workout, meditation, or pursuit of knowledge.