10 Things I have Learnt so far on my Yoga Journey, and my Hope to Inspire You.
“We practice so that we can feel more, experience more, be more conscious.” – Luke Jordan
Something special happens when you practice yoga in a room full of committed yogis with special teachers for a few days, as I have had the pleasure of doing this week.
I wanted to capture a little of what I have learnt in my yoga practice over the last year or so in the hope that it may inspire you to perhaps start a daily practice or deepen and recommit to yours.
I practice Ashtanga yoga, where we flow through the same postures every day with our breath, making it a moving meditation. I will write another time in more detail about the Ashtanga system, but in the meantime, if you like, you can learn more about it here.
Part of the Ashtanga system is to practice 6 days a week, excluding certain Moon days. And so the practice and the lessons begin.
1. Will I or won’t I. Six days a week huh? Getting on to my mat and actually practicing is lesson number 1. Right from the beginning you start to learn about your habits, your mind-set, your energy, your approach, your commitment, your discipline. In case you hadn’t guessed, it’s very easy to talk yourself out of practicing at 6.30 am. Every. Day. Yes, you learn a whole lot about yourself just trying to make it onto your mat to practice.
2. It’s a microcosm of your life. You know that saying the way you do anything is the way you do everything? Well this goes for yoga practice too. The challenge of physical postures provides a playground to study ourselves and to look deeper at what we are doing and how we do it. It gives us space and a container to experience and to study our experience so that we can better understand ourselves and how we move through life.
3. The physical postures are the gateway to our inner world. I now understand this. The physical postures, or asana, are just one of the 8 limbs of yoga as described by Patanjali. They serve to cleanse, purify, and heal the body. But they also allow us to access the inner workings of our own minds so that we can also cleanse and heal there. Powerful stuff.
4. It’s a lifelong journey. Yes, I am in this for life. Even though I feel like I have learnt so much in the last few years, I also know I have nowhere near scratched the surface of what I will continue to learn – both about yoga and myself. Every day is different, and every day I learn something new.
5. It’s my practice and no one else’s. I am talking about a few things here. First of all comparing ourselves to others is not part of the deal. Everyone is different, our bodies are different, our practice is completely individual, and we all have our own lessons to learn. This kind of leads onto my second point – no one can do it for me. No other student or teacher can do for me what I need to do myself. Whether that’s learning new posture, learning to let go of a posture, or understanding what I need to learn about myself. It’s my journey, and my journey alone.
6. The yoga community –when you know, you know. Despite what I just said about it being my journey alone, I get to do it surrounded by an amazing community of yogis- both near and far. It’s like that KT Tunstall lyric – “Everybody sails alone, but we can travel side by side”.
7. It’s a constant in life. No matter what is going on, what I have to do, how I am feeling, my yoga practice is always there waiting for me. There is something beautiful and comforting about this.
8. Yoga philosophy rules.There is way too much to talk about here, but yoga philosophy provides a rock-solid guidance system to help navigate life. Whether that is moral and ethical principles, how we should approach our work in this world, or a framework to understand the nature of our minds. When I am ever in doubt, I turn to these teachings.
9. We are part of something bigger than us. Through the practice of yoga and study of the philosophy I have come to understand that we are all part of something bigger than us, whatever you want to call it. But at its most simple, we are all connected both to each other and the rest of the world.
10. Yoga will change you. It will peel away the layers of yourself and as you look deeper, and you will see things differently. And all for the better.
These are just a few things I have learnt along my journey so far. Really I am only at the beginning of my yoga journey, both as student and a teacher, and every day I begin again.
I hope that some of what I have shared here might inspire you to start or return. Keep it simple, commit, and know that it may not always be easy, but it will most definitely be worth it.
As always, I am here if you have any questions or comments.