I discovered yoga almost 11 years ago and at the time I was very stressed with university exams and looking after a toddler. I quickly discovered that exercise and yoga helped me navigate through these times of my life, filled with tantrums and exams. Some of you may also know that I suffer from systemic Lupus, so that season of my life also resulted in becoming increasingly unwell and less active.
Over those challenging times I discovered that yoga was a constant.
I would never miss a yoga class. It was almost an excuse to escape my stressful reality. At the same time though it taught me some big lessons about myself and my disease.
With the practice of yoga I learned that the stories in my head were only mine and that only love and compassion could define my worth; that for myself and that for others.
With the practice of yoga I learned to love more and just be grateful, happier, empowered, hopeful and strong.
When I started studying to be a yoga teacher, after I finished my degree, I also discovered that all I felt, was supported by the practices of yoga and It was not simply magic.
Practices of āsana and pranayāma.
This is a very important aspect of yoga and one that people are most familiar with. The practices of āsana, the yoga poses and pranayāma, breath control.
Those kept my body healthy and supple. Through the practice of āsana and pranayāma, I also learned that discomfort is not a bad thing. Growth and change can happen through discomfort; as I made space for my body to ease into a new āsana over time, I often also had to make space into my life to adapt to something new over time. As I breathed mindfully into a pose I knew to also take a breath before I acted in life.
Self-regulation of stress responses
This may potentially be the main reason people are attracted to the practice of yoga and the most logical one.
Yoga strengthens our mind and the more control we have over our mind the more power we have over our lives. In fact regulation of stress responses is very powerful. Science has recently proven that 90% of illness progression is related to stress; not genes, but stress. Therefore yoga has the capacity to change ANYTHING and everything inside of us… nothing short of a miracle.
Mind and body awareness
In many yoga text we find that the definition of yoga is to bring mind, body and breath together.
These things are never separate, but what this expression really means, is that we become aware of our mind body and breath functioning as one.
This is the main reason I practice yoga. Very soon after I started practising I became aware how my body was affected by stress, I quickly recognised the physical responses and signs that I was about to “flare”. This information is super, as it allowed me to rest and reset in order to avoid yet another lengthy hospital visit.
The spiritual element of yoga is one that many may mix up with religion. Although yoga is mentioned in many religious texts, to me it is all about discovering myself.
What makes me tick.
What stops me functioning optimally.
Awareness of limiting beliefs and habits.
Awareness of behaviour towards others.
It is in that awareness and discovery that I can find myself, the true self, healthy and happy one.