‘How do I feel?’
How do I feel right now? That is the question. Ask yourself time and time again. Before yoga, during yoga, after yoga practice, or at any time of the day. Sit, breathe and receive. Here is where life begins.
Your courage already speaks volumes. Thank yourselves for your courage. Your courage to come in and take your first yoga class. Your courage to keep going once you have started yoga practice. Week after week.
Thank you for your care. Your care of you own bodies and through your body, your mind. Using your mind to reach your body or your body to reach your mind – you realise they are connected. You realise you link them with the breathing, and by understanding breathing, staying close to it, you bring yourself closer to life.
Thank yourselves for giving yourselves yoga. For that is clear. You are the one doing it. The teacher is your guide. You do the work, and as much you can manage for now. Taking the steps and the time you need.
Even when your teachers are great for you, don’t forget that you are doing the work. Your listening and your applying what you learn is what is doing it for you. You will definitely feel the rewards of what you put in, even if the road is not always easy.
Your yoga teachers are also on a journey, that is what keeps them alive and growing and able to share with you what they are learning along the way. Teachers might have different backgrounds, be yoga therapists, psychologists, artists, experts in functional anatomy, deeply understand the yoga traditions and philosophies, but you are walking your path. Stick to it and know that is right.
You are central
You are central to your practice. Do not be swayed by too much information about yoga styles and stuff that could make you feel you are lacking. Stay steady and use your intuition to feel when a teacher or yoga school is right for you. Make sure that ‘yoga’ is really what you are practicing. If teachers are not paying attention to the breathing, chances are you are simply performing exercises. If teachers are pushing you into poses that do not feel right, you may want to think again about where you are practicing. Our bodies are as different and as varied as our histories. Find a school where you are given options in your practice that are appropriate for you.
There is no good or bad yoga practice day for you, even if you feel that sometimes! There is simply just the practice you show up at and participate in, whether you do it at home or in a group situation. You will take your practice home anyhow and to your everyday lives.
‘How do I feel?’
Ask yourself ‘How do I feel?’ often. This is an important question. After a yoga class, ask yourself ‘How do I feel?’ During the day stop and ask yourself, ‘How do I feel?’ Maybe you weren’t asked this enough by people around you, as a child, as you were growing up, now. ‘How do I feel?’ You are the only one who knows the answer. You can move from here.
Practice self-observation, tune into sensation, experience how you feel and recognize it is there. Let it be there. Rather than criticise or judge yourself. Observe how it is. Remember, change only happens from the place you are, here and now.
Courage is not just practicing yoga, but living, listening to your own feedback, acknowledging what is there, and deciding where you can go from here. You might feel vulnerable, but that is not weakness. What we call our imperfections, our vulnerabilities are growth points. They are your strengths.
Your yoga cannot be sold back to you
Yoga is being sold and resold to you in a thousand different ways, like so much else in the world today. But you already have your yoga. You just need to reconnect. Choose a school where you not only enjoy how the yoga is taught, but where you experience the teachers are genuine and competent to create a safe space and guide your growth in your practice. At the end of the day, the practice is a vehicle for your growth. A tool for you to voyage deep within yourself, discover how you are and move from there, transforming not only your relationship to yourself but how you relate to others.
Turn up, practice and stay true to yourself.
(Writer Natasha Gunn leads the programme at Hot Yoga Eindhoven and Art Awake Yoga)