Posts tagged Practice
Yoga is a training for life

Quite a few things have been going on lately. Weekend trips to London and Paris, wedding planning (the big day is getting closer) and a few updates on my path as a yoga teacher. 

I have now taught Hot Yoga at the YogaHub for almost 3 months. I am so grateful for the students that keep returning and for being patient with me when I confuse the mirroring or say silly things such as "now lower your floor to the chest". 

I remember especially that class when we brought it down to the floor after a series of balancing standing postures. As we sat tall with our legs stretched out in front of us in Dandasana and I was just introducing Paschimottanasana, Seated Forward Bend, the sun starts to shine in through the window. We're blinded by the sunlight. That moment was filled with energy, almost like if time had stopped. 

Next up for me is to start teaching yoga at Squarespace. The students have a varied level of experience, most of them are beginners. I can't wait to share my practice with a group that is so curious and motivated. As discussed in this post, the only thing you need to start is motivation.  

"Just to let you know I am really not flexible, so I don't think I will be able to do so many poses?"

This question is so often asked, especially when we question ourselves and what our bodies will be able to do.

We think of yoga as a physical practice, but yoga involves so much more. It's about working with the breath, mind and the body. These are our tools to find a healthier way to relate to ourselves and to others. 

When we deepen our breath, focus our minds or shift our bodies into different asanas (poses), all that is yoga. It doesn't take a specific asana to be a yogi. 

However, if we're already in an asana, which is no longer a challenge for us and we distract from it. I would hesitate to call that yoga. 

When you walk in a labyrinth, you need to stay open, patient and curious to enjoy the winding path. Once you arrive in the centre, you might expect a feeling of victory, but that feeling often goes away way too quickly. The rest of the time is merely about taking the same way back, the perspectives may change here, but the path is familiar.

It is all about how we create our own experiences as we travel from our own unique starting point. There are more than 800 yoga poses. But keeping a mindful healthy yoga practice doesn't have anything to do with how many of these poses you are comfortable with. It is not about the achievment. It is rather about the progress. 

"Work alone is your privilege, never the fruits thereof. Never let the fruits of action be your motive, and never cease to work. Work in the name of the spirit, abandoning all selfish desires. Be not affected by success or failure. This equipoise is called yoga." (Bhagavad Gītā)

Trust that your body will tell you what it needs. If you have tight hips, shoulders or hamstrings - focus on the breath and practice the poses that will help to loosen these muscle groups. The same goes for finding a yoga practice that will balance the level of stress you have in your life, most of us needs to include a calming yoga practice. What we call yin yoga. And don't forget Savasana.

In this sense, yoga is a training for life. Practice where you are at, right now. Practice to breathe through the tension. Practice an open heart in difficult situations. Practice small active changes and observe the difference it will make. Have your eyes at a goal, but don't be fooled to think the goal is where you need to be. It is in the practice of getting there, that liberation and positive impactful change will happen. 

How to start doing yoga

For those of you who are new to yoga. This is for you.

Are you ready to change your perspective by putting your hands and feet on the ground, drawing your navel in to your spine and pushing your bum up in the air? Are you ready to feel those amazing benefits that moving on the breath can do for you? That's great, because the first thing you need is motivation.
If you are ready to embark on the yoga adventure there are basically two alternatives. Either do some research in your local area for a yoga studio or begin a home practice.

If you decide to go for the studio option. There are a few things that I can recommend. In my experience it is very important to find a place in the nearby area. Then, even rainy days can't stop you from making it to class. Also make sure the place is clean. From your yoga mat you have a beautiful view of the world, and you don't want to be distracted by a dusty floor. A cosy yoga studio and you will actually look forward to spending time there. Attend a few different classes and try to find a teacher that you like, who inspires you and who you can relate to. One thing to look for is an instructor that feels authentic to you. With a voice that speaks to your body and teaches in a way that makes sense to you.

Once you have found a studio that you like, you need to decide what kind of membership you would like to get. When checking out a new studio I usually buy a single class. That way, I can decide whether I like the place. Sometimes, studios have introductory offers for new members. These are often very good deals. Take advantage of them. Remember, yoga studios are making their best to offer high-quality classes, keep prices affordable and still be able to pay their teachers.

Nontheless, signing up for a class or membership requires a financial commitment and maybe that's just not available to you right now. Don't worry my friend, a lot of people - myself included, began practising yoga at home. The benefits of establishing a yoga home practice are many. It is free, the time can be adapted to your personal schedule and it becomes your private moment. The only thing you need is a mat and a routine. Fortunately, you no longer have to dig out a tape from the back of the wardrobe, it has never been easier to find great practices online. 

My favourite classes on youtube are Yoga with Adriene and my long time yoga friend Tara Stiles.

There are also great services out there such as Yogaglo and Yogobe (the latter is in Scandinavian languages). These services offer yoga with a lot of different teachers (some are world famous) and instruct any level class. 

At my teacher training, one of the first things we were told was that even though we practiced every day in the training, it is as important to roll out the mat at home, just to sit on it, breath on it and be present - a moment every day. That is, if you are not in the mood for a teacher-led or rigorous practice, just do some simple breathing exercises and a few stretches on the mat. 

Remember, whatever you do - showing up is what counts