What is Yoga?
There are many opinions out there about what Yoga is or isn’t, and who is or isn’t a real Yogi! If you Google search, there are about 32,400,000 results for the question ‘What is Yoga?’.
I thought I would share what Yoga is to me. Why I practice it and the amazing benefits it has brought to my physical and emotional health and wellbeing.
I was an extremely active kid: gymnastics, ballet and horse riding (thanks mum for the taxi service to and fro on a weekly basis). I loved being involved in school sports and the school teams. Not to mention the freedom of growing up in the seventies, where kids could play in the neighbourhood woods and parks with blatant disregard for danger. My brother and I would go off to the woods after breakfast, and then appear back home when our stomachs called us.
At age of ten, I suffered a back injury, which as it turns out was not properly diagnosed until I was 40. I have a Spondylolysis (a stress fracture in my lower spine), which started to raise its ugly head when I was 35. Marry that with the all too common phenomena of stress and a busy modern lifestyle, I ended up in hospital in 2012 suffering from ‘Thunderclap Headaches’ and being told in no uncertain terms that I had to make serious changes to my lifestyle or the consequences could be devastating.
Well, that was enough to have me rolling my Yoga mat out and hopping straight back on. We had moved to New Zealand in 2008 and both Andy and I had stopped practicing Yoga and took up Triathlon instead (that’s what Kiwi’s do right?) Within, a week of my return to Yoga my symptoms subsided dramatically. I realised I had to make Yoga a pivotal part of my life .
We both signed up for our teacher training immediately and commenced our 200 YTT in February 2013. Empower Studio was born.
Yoga for me is not about pushing my body beyond it limits, it’s about working with my limits or ‘edge’. Developing a balance of both strength and flexibility. Not working into my joints and soft tissue and possibly creating injury. A healthy, strong functioning body that takes me into old age is my ultimate goal. When I teach, I often say “Yoga is not about using the body to get into a pose, it’s about using the pose to get into your body” there is a huge difference between the two. It took me a little while to learn the lesson of listening to my physical body, to the feedback that it constantly gives, if only we would listen. At times I have let my ego, dictate the limits of my practice and more than once ended up with an injury. When I let my true physical edge lead my practice and get my ego off the mat, that is when the magic happens.
Add to that the incredible benefits of developing a quiet mind, finding focus and calm in this ever increasing busy world. I along with so many others, wore my ‘Busy Badge of Honour’ with pride. Multitasking was an accepted part of my day, that’s what women do right? Now, I like to take five minutes just to sit and observe my breath, take note of the quality of it. Is it deep and smooth or rushed and a little raggy? How am I feeling? The breath is directly related to your state of mind and physicality at any time. When my breath is short and raggy, I am in a state of stress, my adrenals are running on overload. When I take just a couple of minutes to regulate my breath, to deepen it and extend my exhale I can take myself out of that ‘flight or flight’ state and into the rest and digest. I used to hate having to sit at red lights, now I appreciate that couple of minutes just to slow down. Yoga has allowed me to stop rushing. It is though, an ever learning journey and one that I need to practice consistently on a daily basis, to keep my busy mind calm and my physical body strong and fluid.
Are you suffering from ‘Rushing Syndrome’ and wearing a Busy Badge of Honour? Gain some insight and tips to make simple changes.