What Yoga is Teaching me

 

  1. Presence: Follow the Butterflies

“Problems can’t exist within the present moment” – Echart Tolle

Our attention goes where our focus are. If you know me for the last 5 to 7 years you might not believe that I once had a considerable amount of negativity I was carrying around with me. 

A kind trainer / coach made the suggestion to me to “follow the butterflies” 

This was enough to trigger my curiosity. Soon after the suggestion was made I started noticing a lot of butterflies in my immediate environment. 

Upon further reflection I began to understand the importance of how thoughts and focus influence the quality of our lives. If we focus on butterflies, that is what we will attract. Conversely so, focusing on negative aspects or things that is out of our control, it perpetuates the same feeling of frustration and not being able to change the situation.

On the yoga matt you must stay present in order to be able to perform the asanas. You stay present through connecting to your breath. I believe that is partly why yoga became such an enlightening experience to me. Rarely do we experience such a sense of presence in our daily lives. Truly an experience to treasure and try replicating in our daily lives.

I believe the way to achieve that off the yoga matt is to connect to our breathing. Breathing transcends us back to the present moment. It also allows us to make more calculated decisions in terms of how we would like to respond to life’s challenges. 

  1. Consciousness

The moment I step onto the yoga matt I become more aware of my body, as well as my mental state. As an enneagram (https://www.wepss.com) type 7 I find it hard to connect to my own feelings. It’s much more comfortable to connect to my thoughts (Head vs Heart).

Therefore, YOGA provides a unique experience to me for reconnecting my body, mind and spirit. 

Being more connected with my own thoughts and feelings also helps me off the matt to be more congruent in how I behave. I am able to respond more authentically to problems, questions, challenges. It becomes easier to express how or what I really feel like about certain matters. 

  1. Emotional Management

I have always been a bottler. It was the example I grew up within our Anglo Saxon community in South Africa. I actually believed that not having outbursts was demonstrating emotional management. Little did I realise the impact of this on relationships. (http://www.susandavid.com/new-index/)

When I am on the yoga matt I often experience an unlocking / release of emotions which was most likely bottled up until that stage. I believe asanas, pranayama and kris help us release some emotions that no longer serve us. By doing so we are restoring energy so that we can move forward in life feeling fully recharged.

  1. Resilience: comfort through discomfort and self efficacy

If I’m totally honest, yoga practice could sometimes be challenging whether it’s holding a pose for an extended period or trying to balance in precarious positions. Yoga’s unique challenges on the matt, however discomforting, has helped me to face stressful, compromising positions in real life with a different attitude. Yoga has made me more resilient and able to follow through with ordinary challenges I face off the matt. 

  1. Connection

By connection to myself on the yoga matt, I have inadvertently realised how intimately everything is connected. I believe there is a real spiritual connection between all living and non-living objects on the earth plane. To realise our sense of connection we truly need to connect to ourselves first. 

  1. Trust

Yoga has truly increased my level of TRUST, both towards myself and especially being able to make myself vulnerable, by following instructions while practicing yoga. I believe I have a deeper sense of trust in the universe and knowing that everything is exactly as it should be. And that following the instructions, and accepting my current circumstances, will lead me exactly down the path of where I should be. Through my current experiences I will also be ready for the next steps that needs to be taken. A slow but purposeful build up to a magnificent “pose”

  1. Acceptance

Even if it’s just half an hour a day, the time I am spending on my yoga matt teaches me to accept my current circumstances. I believe that comes through presence. I have always had a hard time to accept things as they are. I believe it’s just that little thing called being HUMAN. 

  1. Forgiveness

I mainly refer to forgiving myself for not always being able to perform certain postures. Off the yoga matt that also helps me to forgive others for their imperfections by connecting with my own (empathy)

  1. The gifts of imperfection: Vulnerability

Sometimes, especially in intermediate classes, we are challenged with certain poses, balances that we may not be able to achieve (Crow, Crane, head stands, etc). This makes you feel vulnerable and lacking. For me personally it has provided a unique opportunity to identify with the gifts of imperfection. (https://www.newheightscoach.com/uploads/7/6/9/8/76986173/the_gifts_of_imperfection_by_brene_brown.pdf

We all have our own imperfections. The reward is in recognising them, exposing them under the spotlight, and accepting them. There is no PERFECT. The true beauty in life lies in it’s imperfections. 

  1. Self Love and Self Compassion 

You can probably understand why I left the best for last. Yoga has been a very important mirror for reflecting the principles of self love and self compassion back to me as the BEST and most trustworthy companions as part of our human experience. 

Whenever I am over-exerting myself on the yoga matt, I immediately remember that THAT is exactly the opposite of what yoga is about.

Yoga teach us to be self aware, self conscious, listening to our own body and gently increasing our own strength, flexibility and balance as we progress with our experience.

Through connecting and aligning body, mind and spirt I find the best parts of me, which sometimes remain hidden in the busy world which occurs off the yoga matt.

I carry this peace of mind and gentle understanding of myself into the real world in an effort to communicate more authentically.

In Conclusion : 

I believe yoga is a very personalised experience for each of us. I am sure that many more benefits and teachings could be added to the list…

Karin Schoombee – YTT200hrs March 2018

 

Love Yourself

Love Yourself

Yoga and Lifestyle

 

Dragging along a yoga mat along throughout the day while commuting around using public transport that is packed with people like canned food. Rushing off from work during lunch time or after work to the studio for yoga classes. Spending time on the weekends after a hard week at work, on the mat in the studio or at home. Excitedly talking about yoga with family, friends or colleagues during meals.

The above scenarios describe the surface view of the life of someone who has discovered yoga, enjoys it and looks forward to getting back on the mat. This might even be you.

If this is you, it looks like you have found something you love, something that you are passionate about. You see the physical benefits, you enjoy the sensation of loosening your muscles, de-stressing and getting away from work. You might even enjoy it for the community. You made friends, or you enjoy going to classes with friends and the post-class meals or drinks.

However, ultimately, on the mat whether you are alone at home or in class, what you are really doing is that you are spending well-deserved time on yourself. Through yoga, you’ve found a reason to spend time for yourself, on yourself. Even though in a class you might be surrounded with people, during your yoga practice you are focusing on your body, on your own mind.

Psychologists, neurologists and social scientists have long advocated the needs and benefits of spending time for yourself. Doing so helps you to reflect and think deeply. If you can spend time alone in solitude, it allows you to unwind, and rejuvenate your mind just like how sleeping helps your body recover from fatigue. The list of benefits goes on and you can find tons of reasons and resources as to why it’s so important with a simple internet search.

However, living in the modern era, in a modern city that is bustling with activity and where people seem endlessly occupied with work, where people just seem forever busy; it’s hard to really set time aside and dedicate it just for yourself. It’s easy to know what you should be doing but actually doing it is hard.

Discovering yoga helps an individual get a taste of how liberating it feels to be able to spend time on yourself. Once you get that taste, it will help you find reasons (doesn’t have to be physical asana practice) to spend those well-deserved minutes or hours on yourself throughout the day as part of your lifestyle. You understand yourself better, you have time to let your thoughts wander and let your creativity flourish. You learn you treat yourself, take care of yourself and love yourself.

So if you aren’t already spending time for yourself, now it’s the time to start loving yourself. 😊

 

Namaste

Justin Chew

Putting Yourself First: Learning When to Let Go

My first two months of 2014 (especially February) were crazy. Crazy packed. It was the start of my journey in the fitness industry. I appreciate and love what I was doing and I’m extremely grateful for the many opportunities. Not many people can study and work at the same time and still say that they have never felt so fulfilled, driven and satisfied with life. 

In the month of February, I was studying full time in uni, working part time in a private gym, teaching multiple group exercise classes each week and giving personal training to a few clients. I also found my getting attached to an amazing guy in the midst of all these.

It’s ridiculous how close we live to each other. To the point where we spent so many days with a pathetic amount of sleep, just because we could easily get away with a super short walk home after sticking together after work/school/whatever.

It was crazy. We were very happy but we were also extremely drained.

One night, he said: “Ok. Although I love spending time with you, but I told myself that I have to send you home by 12.30am.”

People should be in bed, dead asleep by 12.30am – not sending someone else home. Both of us probably had schedules that required us to wake up at 6am the next morning.

We both knew that we were sleep and rest deprived. I even reached a point where I literally had to drag myself to my yoga teacher training during the weekends. I’m not a person who relies on taxis but in one month, I took more taxi rides to my yoga training than I did in the last few years combined.

I appeared at the yoga classes but I noticed that I wasn’t performing. I wasn’t improving as quickly as I ought to. My mind wasn’t there and I wasn’t as interested as I should have been. My lack of focus annoyed and frustrated me. The lack of improvement pushed my self-esteem down the cliff.

It’s so important to prioritize and to take care of yourself. I figured that if I don’t clean up my own acts soon, and get myself back in good order, I’ll not be able to deliver whatever results that I am capable of and I also wouldn’t be able to deliver what my clients have paid for. On top of that, I also wouldn’t be giving my loved ones the kind of attention and care that they deserve and desire. 

So I made the decision to let go of certain things that were adding income but minimal value to the pursuit of my dreams and my development as a fitness professional and person. Suddenly life seemed more manageable and focused. My yoga practices were showing me results that I’ve never dreamed of. I was pursuing things that meant much more to me. I delivered classes and training that met my own expectations. I worked out at the intensity and rigor that challenged my optimal self. I had slightly more time to attend to my school work and I had time to cook! 😀

I made a deliberate decision to focus and put this up in my room to serve as a constant reminder:

 

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Nobody can force anybody to prioritize and put themselves first. No one can force anybody to give up certain things that aren’t value adding. It’s such a personal decision. Asking yourself and answering “what do I want in life?” and “what is my dream?” is not an easy task. There’s always the need to dig deep within ourselves and find out what it is. The lack of an answer belittles our life and deprives us of the full life that we deserve to live.

What would you do, if you knew you could not fail?