The Yogi Life
In Sanskrit, yoga means to listen. In modern life, yoga means to wear leggings to work, find yourself at Indian ashrams and drink green smoothies for lunch. To me, yoga has a very different meaning. Read on to discover what this ancient Indian discipline has taught me over the last few years.
I took my first yoga class at the age of 15. Breathing was difficult. Not only because the incense made me feel rather sick, but also because I kept on laughing out loud at how ridiculous it all seemed. Seven years later, and I find myself in a 40°C room staring at myself in the mirror opposite balancing on one leg while the other is behind my head. Yoga teaches patience. Flexibility is not what makes you succeed in the poses. It is a combination of the right attitude, breathing, strength, and most importantly, patience. In fact, patience is the crucial driver of improvement. Sometimes, all it takes is a deep breath or a smile on your face to stop you falling over. Our modern lifestyle forces us to continually adapt to change. Yoga, however, offers a constant force of repetition challenging just that, allowing the opportunity for mastery.
“Don’t worry, I’m quite fit and shouldn’t have a problem at all”‘ said me, shortly before experiencing near death in my first Bikram yoga class. Halfway through the class, I was lying in my pool of sweat with stars and white spots dancing across my vision. Yoga opens your eyes to something we are not to used to revealing: our own physical and mental limits. They say that the poses you find the most challenging are those your body needs the most. Giving up and skipping them seems easier, no? Being honest to your body will allow you to immerse and claim progress in the long run. As with anything in life, honesty always pays off.
Seven years ago, I committed for less than ten minutes. Today, yoga is part of my life. This doesn’t mean I rise with the sun every morning and go into deep meditation for an hour. Instead, I am committed to breathe and listen to my body, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. The art of yoga requires the spectator never to tune out.
Yoga stretches your limbs and your comfort zone. Limits are continually being broken down as you progress through the art form. One year ago, headstand variations seemed outlandish. Today, I pushed myself to give one a try in the soft sands of Bali, et voilà. It’s amazing what your body (and your mind) can achieve if you just let go of preconceptions and give it a try. I dare you to give it a real try yourself. Enjoy the journey, and remember to breathe always through it.