Slow It Down

You’ve got the rest of your life to do yoga. Oh, right. So I don’t have to get that pose right now? I don’t have to push my body when it is crying out for some restorative yoga? So what’s the rush? Why do we obsess over getting our bodies into those ‘amazing’ poses that are sure to make us look like ‘real’ yogis? I’m a yoga teacher, but I’ve only been practicing regularly for 18 months. My practice isn’t amazing, I don’t have a long slender yoga body, yet I get to the studio five times a week and do my two-hour Ashtanga yoga practice. Throughout the past 18 months I have learnt that the way I look in my Lulu Lemon gear and where I can put my leg, isn’t what yoga is all about. The truth is, yoga is about learning to let go of these ideas and expectations.

Here are a few things I’ve learnt so far on this journey:

  No two days are the same Some days I have boundless energy and I bounce around like I can hardly control myself, other days I am plagued by this heavy sensation that almost flattens me to my mat. Some days I feel fat, other days I bind in Marichyasana twist no problem. Sadness will slow a practice down, while anger will speed it up. When I feel love, I feel as if I’m floating from one pose to another like I’m doing a perfectly choreographed dance and I’m the only one in the room. I have learnt to honour where I’m at each and every day. Some days I just cant do my entire practice, and that’s ok. I just trust that my body will do what’s right each time I find myself on my mat. Our emotions are intricately embedded within our physical body This is something I’m constantly rediscovering. I’m only in my twenties, yet some days I feel my body is about twice that age. Our emotions and past traumas are stored in different areas of our body, and through practices like yoga we perform poses which open up these areas. What comes out can be truly terrifying, but I am learning that it is a necessary way to move forward and to overcome these issues. I have held onto a lot of fear and a need to be in control for a very long time. This attempt to hold on and to keep things together has meant my body has taken a long time to even begin to open up. My practice has been a very slow process and I guess that’s because I have been scared about what’s going to come up, about what I’m going to learn about myself. The days that I just allow myself to relax into a pose and to really feel into it even when my body wants to come out, those days are when I have my biggest break throughs. I just surrender and I allow my body to take over and leave my mind out of it. There is no point in comparing yourself to others Let’s face it, we like to compare, we just can’t help it. Anyone who’s ever tried a Mysore yoga class will remember how intimidating it is going into that room for the first time, watching everyone doing their thing, flowing so gracefully with their knees behind their ears. It’s very overwhelming. But through this practice you learn your strengths and your weaknesses. For instance, I can do a great back bend, however I have short arms and legs so wrapping myself up in a twist is quite a challenge. Physically, my practice has been slow to progress, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually I have broken down so much stuff that I hardly feel like I’m the same person I was 18 months ago. So despite the fact I might not look like a ‘real’ yoga teacher on the outside (whatever that means?) I know that I have been through some truly life changing experiences already and I’ve only just begun this journey of self- discovery, self-realization and self-love.