I started practicing Yoga in Sep 2013, just as i began B-school in the United States. In retrospect, i think they coincided for a reason. Yoga was a relaxing complement to the intense journey i was about to embark on.
I found a safe refuge in Yoga. It’s been 7 years of practice. A lot has happened since. Through the many adventures and challenges — many countries, a full career, a marriage, and all the daily mundane minutia, something i could return to unwaveringly was Yoga.
It felt apt to start the year with a reflection on the 7 lessons from my 7 years of Yoga practice. Hope you find something useful in here that might encourage you to get on the mat and also start the journey with Yoga.
One: Yoga is a journey, not a destination. It took me a while to get there. No pun intended. With Yoga, there is no “there there” to get to — no perfect pose, no right angle, no exact amount of time. It’s everything that happens in continuum as you move along in preparation to aim to get where ever it is that you think you need to reach. The fruit really is in the process of tending to the fruit tree; only to realize it was not a fruiting tree to begin with.
Two: Focus not on what it looks like, but on what feels good. When i watched youtube/instagram yogis gliding into seemingly impossible contortions, it somehow felt like that was the goal. Soon i realized not all bodies are the same or even need the same things. The act of getting on the mat, exploring what your body feels like on a given day, listening to it and discovering what feels good is the simple reward. So find what feels good.
Three: Stretch not only your body, but also your mind and soul. Yoga is a beautiful combination of the physical, mental and spiritual. It’s the perfect trinity if you will. Tending to one without the other or the other two, or without the third is a lost opportunity. When you get on the mat, leave behind the world you know and believe in. Explore realms within your body, mind and soul you never knew existed.
Four: You can always come back to your breath. There are so many moments during the day when you lose your center. To know that you can re-set simply by closing your eyes and taking a life giving breath. Everything you are is in you breathing. We are, because we breathe. Yoga taught me to hit reset often by taking a deeeeep breath.
Five: Be kind and be patient with your body and with yourself. We are our worst critics. We belittle. We hurt. We demean. We inflict incredible harshness to ourselves — all too easily. We forget that change takes time. Especially sustainable change. Yoga taught me not to expect results overnight. Flexibility, focus, fruition — all take time. Be patient and be kind.
Six: You can practice anywhere as long as you are present. I used to be anxious and flustered, a lot. Every moment was about maximizing on life, and thinking about the future. Yoga taught me how to live maximally in the only thing we truly have — the now, the present moment. Again, it’s very much work in progress, but i am a more patient person today.
Seven: You can take your practice off the mat into your daily life. Being present, holding pose, breathing deep, focusing on your current stance, finding balance — all these are things we can apply to our day to day activities at work and in our personal life alike. What you do on the yoga mat, can be done anywhere, or really everywhere, in life.
It’s fair to say that of all the many adventures, travels and experiences i have dabbled in in life, the one practice that brings me immense peace and centering has been the practice of yoga. The few minutes during the day that bring me back to myself are the ones spent on the yoga mat. This post is an ode to the past 7 years of which yoga has become an integral part of my being and here is to many more years of practice.
Hope this also gives you a few reasons to start this practice in small ways in your life too.