Yoga, as they say, is a lifestyle. When I started practicing Yoga in 2016, I hardly expected it to manifest so deeply into my life, but I can definitely say I'm a better person for it.
So here are some of the lessons I take away from my practice!
1. Practice From Scratch
I remember when I first started practicing a Headstand, I was so excited to do it but scared at the same time. My feet went off the floor with great difficulty and then they came crashing down, I fell flat on my back. After that I was so scared I would hurt my back that I decided to start from scratch and build a good foundation before I could actually try to lift off the floor and straighten my legs.
It took me about 6 months after that before I could reach the second step and with regular practice for more than 2 years now, I've reached the last step.
I believe now that practicing anything, even outside of Yoga or a physical activity, from scratch will give the best, and most stable end result.
As engineering students, we all tend to study last minute and the one thing that has helped organise my study time is starting with the simplest concepts and working my way up from there.
2. Patience Is Key
I'll be honest, I'm not the most patient person by nature and I'm sure my family can vouch for that :P When I started practicing yoga seriously, I was so inspired by all the Instagram Yogis/Yoginis out there that I would try to do pose just like them hoping it would look beautiful and elegant, but as you can guess, I couldn't even do the asana, let alone beautify it for a picture. So over the years I've really tried to work on being patient with my body and my mind during my practice and it has definitely payed off.
"All Good Things Come With Time" they say, and as frustrating as it is, it's true. Consciously practicing patience these past few years has also taught me to be calmer off the mat.
Still not the most patient person, but I'm working on it!
Last June I set a goal for myself; I wanted to improve my back strength and actually be able to hold a Chakrasana for more than 2 seconds, and now I can safely say that I'm comfortable in this asana. Every pose takes time!
3. Good Days & Bad Days
This is one of the most important lessons I've learnt, on some days my body is super flexible and it feels exhilarating to just flow, but on other days I find my movement restricted and my body doesn't behave as well as it did yesterday or the day before that, and I've learnt to accept it. Your body will perform to the best of its ability for the given day, and if its performance is not great, then that's okay too.
Just get on your mat and that's more than enough!
Holding my foot on most days takes a lot of back prep before I can balance in this asana, but on some days it is SO easy.
4. Taking A Break
Although regular practice is important to set yourself a routine, sometimes taking a break is so essential. Taking a few days off from regularly practicing any physical activity can do your body a tonne of good. When I take a break, normally 3-4 days, I can see my strength and flexibility has improved. Taking a break will help your body rejuvenate and yet retain the muscle memory from your practice. Most importantly, you'll look forward to getting back into your routine! So never be afraid or guilty to give your body a break and allow it to relax and you'll see a world of difference!
I've noticed that my back bends are a whole lot deeper when I get back to practicing after a few days break.
5. Recording Your Practice
I cannot stress enough on this one, recording my practice was honestly the biggest booster in terms of improvement in my asanas, especially the more advanced ones. Recording my practice was the easiest way to understand my mistakes and correct them accordingly. I generally record my practices by taking videos, but taking photos or simply writing down how you feel for that day and remembering to write the date will really help you look back and see how far you've come! Try this with not just yoga but anything you're trying to get better at and let me know if it works for you too!
I hope you guys like these kinds of posts, if you do let me know and I'll try to do more!