Yoga has been around for around 5,000 years and some researchers say it's been around for 10,000 years! Yoga has been mastered and perfected over all this time. One of the most things I love about yoga is that it is very detailed. For each pose, you're instructed on what to do with your legs, arms, core, neck and even where you should gaze. Of course with special instructions for those who have special conditions.
The beautiful thing about yoga is that it's not limited to the physical poses. You can carry your practice off the mat and let it change your perception on life. It teaches you how to be an observer. As this yoga teacher puts it, "be an observer of your practice, not a critic". How to be patient and nonjudgmental. Most importantly, it has taught me how to be mindful and how to breathe. It shows you the benefits of surrendering, letting go, and being in the moment.
be an observer of your practice, not a critic
During my last vacation to North America, I tried to go to as many yoga classes as possible. Even though it was expensive, it's a worth it. Because each yoga teacher has her or his own way of conducting a class. Each yogi will adjust your alignment a little bit until you accumulate all these adjustments from different cues that you will remember for years; when you practice, or maybe when you teach, then you'll pass those cues on to your students.
As much as I love practicing alone and doing my own flow, I find classes very beneficial. In classes, I'm able to really challenge myself. The teacher's reminders help me stay present and focus on my breath. They leave me with inspiring thoughts and remind me to stay kind. Clear and loving thoughts, intentions, and communications. Yoga is a way of living mindfully.
By practicing yoga, I've discovered myself. I've let go of competition; I no longer compare myself to the person next to me. We are all different; it's unfair to compare ourselves to anyone. It opened my mind as I tried many different types of yoga. I participated in Kundalini yoga, where we chanted and om'ed together. I kept an open mind during the class. It was different and strange, but I could feel the vibrations when we chanted the Sanskrit phrases together. I could feel the energy of the room, my emotions rising inside of me as we chanted, and the light feeling I had inside of me as I was leaving the class.
I discovered that I love hot yoga. A kind of yoga I used to dislike strongly. Now I think it's beneficial when the heat is gradually increasing. It makes me more in tune with my body and breath. My mind wanders less. I'm present and I'm feeling it all.
That leads me to the best yoga class I have ever attended. It left me inspired and filled with love. The teacher gave us verbal instructions and only demonstrated the poses when needed. She corrected our postures as she quietly walked around us. We were encouraged to listen to our bodies and always had the option to go to a more advanced pose or to go to child's pose when needed.
The teacher was fully present for the students. Attending to anyone who needed her help. No air conditioning. No music. The speed of the class was just right. I didn't feel at any moment that I was rushing through my asanas.
Now my favorite way to practice is in my room in a warm temperature. Sometimes I like to move in silence or with instrumental music. Always listening to my body and my breath. It made me notice where I hold tension in my body, usually in my knees or shoulders. Some people hold tension in their jaw, hips, or forehead. So I invite you to relax, straighten your back, listen to your breath, then start to notice what parts of your body are tense. Tell yourself to relax those parts and keep noticing your breath.
This practice has helped me be more compassionate, in touch with my feelings, and to practice non-greed. It reminds me to be thankful and to be present. It taught me to let go of the things I cannot control. To have trust in my path. To understand we should not concern ourselves with desires; because that creates suffering.
It taught me to be in the present moment. Everything is alright in the present. Stop worrying about the future and stop regretting the past. Right now everything's good.
Before yoga, I struggled with anger issues and stress that gave me patches of gray hair and digestive issues. Give yoga a chance. Try many different types of yoga. Don't give up after the first class. It takes some time to calm your mind before you can enjoy yoga. Hopefully, soon I'll post a yoga guide on how to start a yoga practice.