First, I really want to thank Afsaneh Tajvidi for allowing me to publish her magnificent artworks here. I also thank her for the beautiful flowers which are now my header image. She is absolutely amazing, isn’t she? Please, visit her online shop Etsy.com/JooJoo.
I promised to write about my yoga experience and what changes Yoga had brought into my life. I know a lot of people are rather skeptical about Yoga, maybe I used to be one of them. Two years later I am happy I went to that little studio, on that chilly winter day (I’ll say it again: ‘Thank you, Adi!’). One practice and I knew it would turn into a necessity. Now I am absolutely sure that Yoga is for everyone. Even my little boy enjoys it. 🙂
But why do I like Yoga so much? For many reasons, however, I’ll only mention a few things it has enchanted me with.
1. It is not about flexibility.
I don’t get why people still believe Yoga is about putting a leg behind your head. Very soon I realised that flexibility would come little by little, strength – too. Yoga postures could be easily modified so that even absolute beginners find them pleasant. If something is too hard, leave it for a while until you are ready to try. My examples – headstands and handstands. I have some progress with the latter, using a wall, but honestly, I can’t stand on my head without someone to help me. And I’m OK with that. At first, I was a bit frustrated, but why should I be? I want to enjoy my practice and not to struggle with my body. I do my best with every posture, and yet I know I don’t need injuries to compromise my yoga experience. So here is what I’ve learned about Yoga and flexibility: Yes, you can do yoga without being flexible. You will be getting better. It doesn’t matter if you can touch your toes or not; after some time, you will do it with no difficulty. Crow pose seems impossible to do? Be patient and never says “I can’t do it.” One day it might become one of your favourites. Besides, what matters is the journey to mastering an asana, and not the final result. Have fun, you can’t be perfect anyway.
2. Meditation is not that mysterious.
Well, doing a headstand seems easier than switching off thoroughly. But in my opinion, it does not necessarily mean spending hours in attempts to soothe your mind or find the divine in yourself. That might be the case with real yogis, but I am just a yoga-lover who wants to take the best of meditation. So, even a minute of silence in Savasana or Lotus works for me. No thoughts, no anxiety, just let go. And let’s face it, you’ll need some self-suggestion in the beginning. Just stop thinking of it as something ridiculous that will make you look silly. Be with your inner self a couple of minutes a day, it’s worth it.
3. Inhale and exhale.
Breathing in Yoga is really important. Deep breaths in and out, through the nose. This is essential – through the nose. I found out that breathing the right way helped me to do the asanas with no exertions while at the same time made me feel more relaxed (for instance, the deep energising Ujjayi breath in Downward-Facing Dog). This kind of breathing helps me in my everyday life too, which means I turn to Yoga more often than a few practices a week.
4. It’s deeper than it looks.
Yoga is neither a sport nor an enigmatic philosophy to be afraid of. Some make money from it, some organise yoga competitions (what?! 🙂 ), some focus on its spiritual aspect… The truth is that for us, people from Western societies, Yoga is far too deep and complicated to comprehend. I practice Yoga, I read about Yoga, I am interested in Yoga, and I don’t pretend to know much about it. But if I can touch this philosophy and benefit from it, why not? I don’t exaggerate its influence over my mind, I don’t reduce it to a physical activity either. I am still learning…
5. Your body will thank you.
Even if one is not convinced that Yoga helps to relieve stress, at least they could feel the positive effect on their body. Absolutely no doubt about it! Less back and waist pain, stronger muscles, stronger arms, hamstrings no longer that stiff, more flexibility and endurance. This is what Yoga has done to me. Who wouldn’t love it?
As my favourite Yoga teacher, Rodney Yee, points it, “You have 10 minutes? Do 10 minutes a day. It will change your life!” (Gaia – My Yoga video). I don’t practice Yoga all the time, to be honest. But whatever the workout, I always incorporate Yoga into it, and into my life as well. My Yoga journey is still on.