IS YOGA ON YOUR TO DO LIST? 9 WAYS YOGA CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE
I am a notorious list writer. I love it. If I see something that tweaks my interest I’ll write it down to research later. If there is something I want to buy or something I want to do (there are lots of these ones) I’ll add them to the list as well.
I find that writing things down encourages me to pay attention…to take it seriously. I guess I love the feeling of ticking or crossing it off. There is such a sense of satisfcation.
The only problem? I used to write so many things on my list that they would stay just there – on the list. They never blossomed into reality, taking shape in my life. Just ink on paper.
I remember when I first started practising yoga I was only attending once a week. Despite the obvious changes I was experiencing, I had trouble transitioning from a once a week yogi to a once a day yogi! Even though it was on my list – “start practising yoga 4-5 times per week” – I couldn’t seem to take the leap. I don’t know why, but perhaps it was hard to break a pattern of behaviour. Maybe I was scared, lazy, unsure.
I had to change my tactic – I had to ‘drip-feed’ yoga into my life. So I enrolled in a second class… eight weeks later I signed up for a third and then not long after I made the commitment to attend class 4 – 5 times a week. Once I did, I never looked book. Why? well, the changes I had experienced from attending one class tripled, quadrupled even.
Now, looking back, I wish I had spoken to my teacher a little more to get some insight into the benefits and value of yoga so that I could be motivated to increase my practice hours earlier.
I don’t regret how yoga unfolded for me. It does so, just the way it should for each individual. But today I want to share you with you the ways yoga changed my life – holistically, not just physically. If ‘go to yoga’ is on your to-do list and it’s been there collecting dust for way to long, then maybe this will drive you to take the leap.
9 WAYS YOGA CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE:
1) Fitter body: the most physical change my body has undergone has been through yoga. Although naturally petite, I was never very toned or strong. Now I’d hardly classify myself as a weakling anymore and I have muscle tone that the gym could never give me
2) Quieter mind: My family would probably be the only people that remember me as a highly sensitive, stressed and strung out individual. I was always running on the highest speed setting and as a result would get very easily burnt out, emotional and in turn, sick. Now I have a sense of calm, an awareness of what sets off stress and a deeper understanding of the inner workings of my mind.
3) Overcoming fear: I tell this to my students all the time. I was not gymnast or one of those fearless children that just flipped into backbends, handstands and cartwheels. I was nervous of anything I couldn’t do and played it ‘safe’. Yoga has taught me how to test my boundaries, how to be spontaneous, give up to the moment and to realise that falling is an important lesson in fearlessness. This has translated off my mat. It’s given me confidence in ways I would never have imagined. I finally understand that it’s not living if you hang out on the side-lines, not trying, avoiding risks and not experiencing anything.
4) Increased flexibility: Not only did I avoid testing my boundaries, I also wasn’t flexible or athletic. In fact, the opposite. I came to yoga with a stiff back, hips, shoulders… everywhere. Over time and a lot of dedicated practice I have seen profound changes. I am still most certainly not a super-bendy yogi, but it doesn’t matter, each day my body opens a little more and I learn a little more. The benefit of greater flexibility is that I feel my body is awake, open, lighter.
5) Better diet: If you’ve read my story you’ll know that I was blessed with amazing, healthy food as a child. However, In my early 20s I lost my way and my health. Yoga brought me back to health because it gently pushed me to consider what I was putting into my body. When you have to limit when and what you eat because of a yoga class then you can’t help but to pay attention to your diet… cleaning it up along the way and ultimately respecting your body.
6) Cultivating spirituality: I grew up with a strong catholic influence through my mother. I still respect the religion and admire my mother’s passion for it. But I knew there was another way for me to ‘worship’ – not necessarily another religion, just a different way of being connected. Yoga provided me with a platform to explore spirituality, and what that means to me. I also discovered a different way to pray, moving internally and meditating, in order to foster a more energetic bond with the universe – the world around me
8) Experiencing community: I imagine surfers, artists and musicians share a similar bond and with that they have a strong sense of community. Yoga has offered the same to me. Meeting other like-minded people, spending time together at events, breaking down the joy and the pain of yoga. I feel like I belong to something other than my career and my relationships.
9) Learning asana: Yoga postures. I love that I am always learning news way in which to move my body and find it absolutely marvellous that the body can do so many things. The asana, yoga postures, are my way of expressing myself whilst paying homage to the body. Also, it’s fun! Mastering postures that seem so daunting is an achievement, but also a lesson that there is no end – once you’ve mastered that posture, there is always another or it changes, or you change and everything is new once again.
Signing off with an exhale.
Pause. Listen. Live