Let me start by saying that I’ve never been a sporty type. The only thing that would kind of make me want to sprint is a high-fashion sale (possibly involving Chanel and preferably around the corner).
I decided to start doing something out of necessity, rather than the desire to get fit. I was struggling with my weight and consulted a dietician, who advised three hours of physical activity per week paired with a diet – duh.
I was pretty desperate to finally start seeing result and, when a small yoga studio opened on my street, I was officially running out of excuses. That’s how my adventure with yoga began.
I still remember my first classes – feeling intimidated, frustrated and embarrassed, completely incapable of touching my toes, properly straightening my back or holding a plank.
It’s been almost two years since I’ve started my practice and I can honestly say that I’ve come to love every moment, every drop of sweat, every struggle I experience on the mat.
I try to practice as regularly as I can, aiming for three classes per week, but there are months, when I suspend my schedule in favour of work, travels or simply rest.
That’s exactly where the beauty of yoga begins. It’s a journey, a dialogue with our inner selves, a constant renewal of our commitment to the body and the mind.
Last week was particularly enjoyable, as the more difficult poses finally seemed within my reach. Today, I’m sore, tired – and even more grateful for every minute of my practice, every person I’ve met along the way, every obstacle I’m yet to overcome.
Yoga has been a great teacher, a reliable friend, a guide towards self-discovery, kindness and compassion. Here are some of the most valuable lessons that allowed for a subtle yet significant mental shift towards happiness.
Perfection Vs. Patience
For me, there’s no such thing as the perfect pose. There’s always a margin for improvement, better alignment, greater strength. Every milestone reached offers the opportunity to start over, move forward, go further – challenge our own assumptions and expectations. Yoga – just like life – is based on perseverance and patience, not perfection.
Competition Vs. Kindness
Every class brings together a mix of beginners and more advanced yogis. I look up to and admire both – beginners for their courage and determination and advanced practitioners for their skills and strength, but also humbleness. In yoga, there’s no triumph or failure, but only endless kindness and gratitude – towards oneself and others.
Progress Vs. Process
The way I see it, yoga is a journey – not a destination. Of course, I could practice with ambition and determination to learn specific poses within specific time – that’s one way to do it and there’s obviously nothing wrong with this sort of approach. However, I prefer to leave my goals and targets out the door and focus on the joy of here and now.
Loneliness Vs. Solitude
In yoga, I am alone but never lonely. I love going to new studios, trying new classes, meeting new teachers. I enjoy my anonymity, my solitude within the crowd, smiling at strangers and being smiled back at, exchanging experiences or simply sharing stillness. It helps me recharge, refocus and regenerate – physically and mentally – class after class.
Limitations Vs. Acceptance
Everybody – every body – is different. Some are supple and flexible, other are lean and strong. We all have different assets and limitations and yoga reflects that in the most beautiful manner. Every pose, every sequence is an invitation to appreciate what we’re capable of and accept what’s not within our reach – now or perhaps never.
Self-improvement Vs. Self-are
Yoga is a choice, not a chore. It’s based on dedication and promise to myself that my wellbeing matters. It’s not about what I expect from myself but what I wish for myself – health and happiness. Even when I skip a class (or three), I don’t beat myself up but feel grateful for acknowledging my needs and feeling – for me, that’s the biggest accomplishment.