It’s been a long time since yoga has entered my life and with asanas (the Sanskrit word for yoga poses; see at the end of this post for my favorite definition**) such as headstand, full wheel or crow being firm parts of my practice by now, and others such as handstand, forearm balance, and side crow moving into the realm of possibility (yay!), I felt compelled to take a look back at my yoga journey.
When I first put my nose into yoga classes, dedicated studios were still a rarity and the few that did exist felt a bit too unfamiliar and exotic for my liking. Think dreadlocks, linen rucksack, vegan, super skinny and bendy like a pretzel. (Oh my, has the yoga landscape changed!)
What’s more, I was still trapped in the corporate rat race and more of a party goer and gym buddy, but most of all I was seriously un-bendy and whilst often harrowing, body stiffness and aches were normal. So was covering up in black clothes and as long sleeves and pants as possible.
So, ‘meeting yoga’ was not love at first sight, nope.
For one reason or another I kept trying a few different classes and teachers, and eventually the magic of yoga won me over. And so today pain-free, flexible and visible yoga pants are the norm :)
My journey to yoga joy does not only reflect itself in my choice of fashion though, or in my increased bending abilities, but the true power is in the lessons that yoga has been teaching me off the mat.
As so often I find quotes of the world’s most significant and influential thought leaders and visionaries of all ages one of the most wonderful ways to express and share my own thoughts. So expect lots of them!
1) Everything is possible
A truth that has been showing up for me in my yoga practice from day one: If I believe it, I can do it! I love how Wayne Dyer said it:“You’ll see it when you believe it!” or in Napoleon Hill’s words:“Whatever your mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve regardless of how many times you may have failed in the past.”
2) It’s about the journey not the destination
Not only have I learned (sometimes the hard way) that life is a journey, but I now actually enjoy the ride. Roller coasters and all. In Denis Waitley’s words:“It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfilment, it is in the happiness of pursuit.”
I am stronger than I think
It’s not about the perfect posture all the time, but what really counts is getting up and trying again when I fall. Resilience is not a physical thing, but it comes from belief and trust. Trust in my own abilities, but also trust in something bigger than myself. And in the worst case, my yoga mat will catch me if I fall ;)
Success takes time
We all know the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. And it is so true! Not only is success not instant, it actually takes failing to get there. I love this quote by Alberto Giacometti “The more you fail, the more you succeed”, or, as my yoga teacher puts it “It is a practice and the more you practice the better you get.”
Taking risks brings me closer to my dreams
It can feel really testing and scary, but I feel truly blessed that I’ve learned to follow my heart and intuition. And if I’ve learned only one thing it is this: if I’m not scared, I’m not growing. “Only those who will risk going too far, can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T. S. Eliot
Focus is key
I get what I put in. The more I commit and focus and the more I practice the quicker the results. In a nutshell, focus is the number one productivity tool. One of the best summaries I’ve come across is Brian Tracy’s quote“The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire not things we fear.”
Some days are hard, some are easy
Life is not symmetrical, and some days are hard, some are easy. When the going gets tough it’s life’s way of testing me and leading me to a higher level of consciousness and awareness. All that matters is that I do my best and don’t loose faith. And when all else fails, in yoga as in life, I take a few moments and breathe through it.
Only compare myself to myself
Judgement and competition have no place in yoga. The only person I compare myself to, is myself, and it really reminds me how far I’ve come! There seems to be no shortage of comparison quotes and I find them so inspiring, so here they are!
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” –Theodor Roosevelt
“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it, it just blossoms.” –Zen Shin
“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” –Unknown
“Personality begins, where comparison ends.” –Karl Lagerfeld
The body and mind are connected
My body follows my mind, and my mind also follows my body. If I’m stressed or anxious, my body slows me down by sending me various aches and pains. On the other hand if I look after my body and treat it well, my mind follows suit and reaches for the better feeling thoughts. I may have had theoretical knowledge of this connection, but it is (years of!) yoga that has truly risen my awareness of this oneness.
It’s never too late
I met my Mr. Right at 39, I’ve awakened the entrepreneur in me in my forties and consequently left my secure corporate career, and I’m now (in my forties) on my way to mastering the handstand! Woohoo!
Life is short. Never say never. And it is never too late to learn something new, change direction or let go of old habits. “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” –George Eliot
I truly believe that discovery, mastery and realisation of self are the key to a happy life, perhaps it is even the meaning of life, and whilst I’d say that my best “enlightenment teachers” have been my failures, upsets and other traumatic experiences, yoga has been absolutely instrumental in showing and shining the light within me.
I’ll finish off with an excerpt from Marianne Williamson’s inspiring book ‘A return to Love’.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? …Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. … It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Wooh! I’m currently at the cross roads of having left my corporate career and setting up my own business venture, and it can be really challenging at times – and testing my self-belief – so I really needed this post!
I hope you got a few powerful reminders, positive nudges and a good self-confidence boost, too.
Peace, love and light.
** my favorite definition of asana is from here: http://www.gaia.com/article/yoga-exercises-defining-asanas-yoga-poses. It states that “Asana can be defined as a physical Yoga posture or position that is designed to help master the body and enhance the body’s functions. Yoga poses are, in essence, Yoga exercises creating strength and endurance, improving circulation and energy flow, cleansing organs and other systems, and expanding muscles and joints. With all these benefits of the Yoga poses, we can not lose attention to the original purpose of the Yoga pose or Yoga exercise.”