I posted a great quote on my Instagram last week that says ‘yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self’ and I am truly immersed in this wonderful journey.
I have practiced yoga over the past couple of years and felt the benefits but never as much as I do now that I practice about 5 times a week in Bondi. Next week I will begin The Modern Yogi Project; a 6 week programme to deepen my practice through a focus on the 4 main pillars: self study, the physical practice, meditation and diet. I know it’s going to be an amazing journey and I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to write about at the end of it but I wanted to do a post before I began to comment on the incredible benefits and realisations that I have found through yoga. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been lucky enough to practice yoga in my usual atmospheric studio as well as sunrise yoga on the beach and yoga in the sky at the top of Sydney Tower Eye! However, wherever you are I think that by incorporating just some key aspects or simple practices of yoga into your life, it can do fabulous things and so I wanted to share them with you.
I have (or used to have) the busiest head that was constantly thinking, planning, organising, arranging thoughts into productive, understandable pockets, but actually this kind of constant thinking does not help us to understand, it creates a chaotic environment for our minds to live in. Yoga teaches the essence of being. What we learn on the mat; focus, mindfulness, being in that very moment, is something we can learn to communicate into our broader lives in other situations. No matter what pose or position we find ourselves in we can always come back to the internal present moment by focusing on the breath and check in with ourselves, helping to calm us.
As well as a busy mind, I had a very protected heart. When we face trauma we must find a way to cope and for me protection was a method used to try and not let it happen again but the truth is that we will all face difficult times and there is no use wasting time and energy shielding our hearts to the point where it is not open enough to enjoy the present moment. Through yoga I am learning to open my heart physically and metaphorically. In class we always work to open this part of our body and I feel revealed in a way I wasn’t before used to. One of my favourite heart opening postures is so simple that anyone can do it. You simply put a block (you could use a pillow) in between your shoulder blades and then lie down, arms out, feet out, heart wide open to the sky. I find this asana so meaningful and so powerful yet I love the stillness and calm that it brings. There is nowhere to hide, completely open to judgement, heartache, anything, but none of that comes – no one is judging me, I am just a girl lying in a room on a yoga mat. I am OK. When I feel myself feeling nervous, self conscious or fearful I will now peel back my shoulders, open up my chest and take a deep breath. I am here, I am taking up space and I am delighted to do so.
Through vinyasa we work our bodies hard: twisting, turning, balancing, flowing all in heated conditions and after our bodies are exhausted from the physical practice it allows us to truly appreciate the wonder of stillness, a calm that our minds are often too busy to understand. The stretching and bending creates space through our bodies and minds that we can then enjoy in savasana. The true appreciation of life comes when you are so focused on the wonder of the present moment.
Savasana is the most important asana; it’s the reason for sweating and exceeding ourselves in the physical practice, because in doing this it helps to ease us into a wonderful relaxation. I have has some really overwhelming times on the mat at this stage. Yoga is like therapy but instead of talking about the issues inside we get to feel them and move with or through them. This is what is so special because I know, at least for myself, that I often don’t actually let myself recognise that I am hurting and emotional and therefore don’t talk about it. It may be that we don’t want to vocalise certain feelings but yoga allows us to work through those problems anyway; it allows our bodies to recognise what we need and move energies around the body, moving through and pushing away the bad energy while intruding new energy that is fresh, positive and strong.
I’d just like to state that I am certainly not free of overthinking; I still can find it very difficult to calm my mind but I can already see how yoga has helped me to minimise this and free my mind to new found space that I have the potential to explore and this is what encourages me to continue on my journey!