Don’t let the sound of OM’s and talk of spiritual enlightenment send you running out of the studio doors. Whether you seek the physical benefits of a strong, flexible body or you want to achieve more body awareness or the calming effect of inner peace chances are you will find exactly what you are looking for in yoga. Speak to any yogi and they could rattle on all day and night about the many benefits of regular practice, but this can make it all seem pretty intimidating. I mean, shouldn’t you be able to bend into a pretzel before you show up to a class? No! Most people can barely touch their own toes, let alone get their foot behind their head. The important thing to remember is that you have to start somewhere. It doesn’t matter if you can touch your toes or even SEE your toes because wherever you are at this very moment is PERFECT! It’s exactly where you need to be. There is no point in waiting for something to happen or change before you start or you will be waiting a long time – probably forever.
Yoga teaches you how to tune into your mind, body and spirit. Eventually you learn and appreciate the inter-connectivity between the three. As you tune into your body you realize how amazing, beautiful and powerful you actually are – your confidence rises and you start to feel good about yourself, like really good. Then, as you tap into your mind you realize how much time you actually spend there – spinning up stories, creating delusions and living in the past. As you move through your practice you learn to tune out that constant barrage of internal dialogue. You learn to make peace with it and shift the chatter into the background. You start to see truths and possibilities where you once saw pity and self doubt. Your bogged down brain suddenly becomes lighter, clearer. You begin to see things as they really are – becoming more aware of the beauty in life and the world around you. You start to release the past and starting living in the moment. Don’t get me wrong, this type of phenomena doesn’t happen over night, but it can and will happen if, and only if, you’re willing to put in a little time and a lot of effort, but it is worth every second.
Focus… You create focus in your practice by staying connected with your body – staying present – being in the moment (this means NOT thinking about what you will be making for dinner or what you are going to wear to the party on the weekend or all the other stuff you’ve got going on in your everyday life). As you start to slow down, you notice the subtle hints and clues your body has been giving you. Every BODY reacts differently to stress and the stresses of everyday life, but typical reactions are tension, muscle tightness and eventually pain. Yoga helps release that tension and tightness, helps to relieve pain and lengthen / tone muscles thus reducing the risk of future pain and preventing injury.
After some dedicated practice you may notice certain things… for example, you will become lighter on your feet and your body’s reaction time will decrease. As your muscles lengthen and tone, your body will become longer and lean – you may even grow a few millimetres! You’ll notice that lingering pain and irritations starts to melt away and old injuries may eventually fade into memory. As your body loosens up and releases the tension everyday responsibilities may become easier, endurance will increase and everyday tasks / hobbies will become more enjoyable. Eventually, the need for external dependencies like pick-me-ups (caffeine & sugars) and pain killers will decrease and lose their appeal. What once was required to maintain an active, pain-free lifestyle now has the ability to be achieved naturally.
Yoga is like polishing silver. Over time our body, mind and spirit becomes faded, tarnished and bruised, but when we begin our journey with yoga, through the practice of asana (poses) and meditation, we gently scrub away the layers of dirt, grime and build-up. As we gradually remove these layers our inner light, the *sparkle* within us, starts to shine and radiate through. Yoga does not change us, it merely brings us back to our true self, removing all the judgement, anger, fear, and pre-programmed emotion – one layer at a time, little by little removing all that does not belong.
“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.: ~ Roald Dahl
So, that being said… I encourage you to try a class. If you don’t like it, TRY AGAIN. All instructors are different and I can pretty much guarantee that you WILL find the right fit for you, but there is a possibility that it won’t be on your first go or even your second. My first experience was extremely negative. I left the class feeling horrible about myself, angry, frustrated and hurt. I was in the wrong class… totally wrong class with the wrong teacher. I could have given up. Could have walked away from the whole idea, but something inside me told me to keep looking, to keep an open mind. Eventually I found love and a home in the space of Yoga by Sarah (www.yogabysarah.com). I felt warmth in my heart, peace in my head and strength in my body. My confidence started to build and the real me started to shine through. I was liberated, empowered and freed!
Open your heart and give it a shot – be open to the possibilities to discover what you are capable of. Your mind, body and spirit will thank you for your efforts.
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” ~ Joe Sabah