It’s safe to say if I challenged you to guess my favourite subject to write about – besides myself (kidding! :)) – many of you would say Yoga. Fact. And though many would be right, they may also be quick to assume that fireworks exploded during my first downward facing dog or rays of sunshine separated the clouds as angels “ahhhh’ed” from the gates of heaven:
This was not the case.
Yoga was the off-ice training class that every kid dreaded in my figure skating years. Maybe I secretly looked forward to the visualization aspect of it at the end (“picture yourself in a green, flowery field”…..I was a special 11 year old). But when high school / university happened, skating faded and so did yoga.
12 years later, when I reconnected with yoga, it took 2 Stop & Start years of experimenting different styles and ‘using it’ only when it was convenient for me to develop the relationship we have today.
If you’ve been yo-yo-ing in yoga for a little while and still can’t really see what ‘does it’ for so many people, have you ever considered that instead of throwing in the towel, maybe what you need is a little more?
1. START A YOGA JOURNAL
Look at it as your own little book of life lessons – one you’ll be happy to look back on. I started a yoga journal last summer and it has been the biggest game changer for me. After classes, I jot quotes from the teacher that resonated or feelings that arose during certain moments. It makes me more aware and challenges me think beyond the physical (though recording triumphs - yeah headstand!- is another fun way to playfully stroke the ego). A yoga journal will also help you see what means the most to you at any given time. I believe that if something “sticks” after class, there’s a pretty good indication it was meant to.
2. FIND A BUDDY
The journey of yoga can be a very inward one but it’s always nice when you have a friend who can relate to your interests and changes. They are great resources for book recommendations, words of advice and encouragement or just for bouncing ideas. Sometimes the road to yoga gets lonely, especially when none of your friends or family are into it. I’m lucky to have a handful of people to message, call or roll out my mat with (if you don’t, feel free to email me anytime – I really could talk about it forever and I’m always up for a meet-up!)
3. DEVELOP A (PLATONIC) RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR TEACHER
A friend once said, “the relationship we have with our teachers is so special.” I’m finding that to be true in more ways than I can describe in words. It’s a precious relationship when you find the right one(s) and I’m blessed to have a few teachers who shine different parts of their light into different parts of my practice.
Don’t be scared to approach your teacher after class – I’m betting they would love to hear from you and get to know you as beyond being their student. A healthy student-teacher relationship can also be a great catalyst for dragging you out of the house on those days that you really don’t give a rat’s ass. If you don’t get that feeling, it might be time to consider trying a class from someone new.
4. READ YOGA BOOKS
In the beginning of this newfound yogic affair, I dove my nose into as much yogi wisdom as I could. It was a great way to comfortably get used to the vocabulary, welcome new knowledge and entertain diverse thoughts / perspectives. I haven’t even gotten through half of the books on my ‘to-read’ list. All this being said leads to numero cinco……
5. PRACTICE LIKE YOU MEAN IT
Whether your intention is mind-blowing flexibility, reverent patience or heart-pounding revelations - Yoga is 99% practice, 1% theory. Practice and all is coming - Guru Pattabhi Jois was not lying.
No matter how much I resisted believing in this in the beginning, I’ve realized that we can read & talk & debate about it all we want; we can pay as much money to learn from the ‘best of the best of the best of the best’; but unless our own practice becomes regular enough, we may only be abandoned by our own g00d intentions.
In the end, our practice is equal to no one else’s, and – much like our lives – every single person’s will be infinitely different. As you delve into yours, relax and let it flow. Do the things you feel like doing and refrain from the things you don’t. With consistent practice though, I can guarantee one thing: anticipate to be lead through so many unexpected places when you leave what you expect at the door.
Question: Do any of these things deepen your practice? What are some other things that do?