I’ve been practising the physical aspect of Yoga for over 10 years now, and it’s taken me a long time to slowly come in to a greater acceptance & understanding of my body. Yoga has allowed me to manage a slight scoliosis in my spine by developing greater strength & stability in my body; it has also allowed me to find greater length in my muscles, and more space and freedom in my joints, which has all helped to improve my posture.
However the physical practise of Yoga also supports that greater journey inwards where we have the opportunity to connect with that deeper part of ourselves. So over the years Yoga has also given me a means to help quieten my mind and be at greater peace with myself.
Yoga has revealed more to me about myself than I knew was possible.
In a previous life, I spent many years working long hours on my feet in hospitality. I knew little of Yoga when I went to my first Yoga class in Adelaide with a friend. One of the first things I remember doing was lying over wooden brick and thinking what the hell have I got myself in to. As I began to allow my shoulders to melt around that brick though and to witness the quality of my breath I got my first hook of Yoga. After that class I was drawn to how Yoga, and in particular Iyengar Yoga, gave me a way of exploring and being in body more fully.
Immediately on my return to Sydney I found the Neutral Bay Iyengar Yoga Centre that had been recommended to me, and began classes.
Yoga gave me a way of understanding my body that I had never experienced before. I was already running and going to the gym fairly regularly and didn’t want another ‘workout’; I was stressed at work and wasn’t sleeping particularly well and needed something that was going to be calming and help quieten my head. Although I wasn’t necessarily looking I was immediately drawn to the small class sizes and that the room was full of a variety of people, young and old, flexible and not. I was in the ‘not’ crowd, and carrying years of body image issues I was still very self-conscious and I was glad the room was empty of lycra-clad ‘beautiful’ people, and full of regular people just doing their practise.
When I started ‘doing’ Yoga I immediately fell in to the trap of comparing myself and ‘competing’ with others in the class. I of course failed, having become distracted from my own journey.
As I began to experience more and ‘do’ less in practise I then realised I had begun to become competitive with myself! Why was I losing balance and falling over? I was again caught in the doing, distracted and attached to an outcome, rather than being present in my body.
As I understood my body’s limitations, I also began to understand the enormous potential of my body, and how through regular practise the limitations were really only in my head. Every week, and every week still, I go to class to experience my body and witness its relationship with my mind. As I practise the asanas I marvel at the journey of the last 10 or more years from when I first began. I’m still learning to experience more fully each asana, and I’m still challenged by the distractions in both body and mind that can come up on any given day that prevent me from being fully present.
Everything is a Practise!
Yoga will always remain a lifelong practise for me. It challenges me every day, on and off the mat, to be present in both mind and body; it requires me to be patient and gentle with myself. When my mind is distracted my body follows; when I’m more mindful, the distractions of the body are more easily managed. I may still not be the most flexible person in the world but I’m more aware, have better posture and feel stronger in my body; and no longer suffer with the aches and pains that I experienced in my twenties.
Yoga has taught me invaluable lessons about myself. How to be more compassionate and present in my body and mind, which has helped me find a greater peace in the world!