10 things Yoga taught me

When I started my yoga practice, I wanted to be more strong, flexible and calm. Period. I was not looking anything further. But, sometimes the best gifts come in disguise. Yoga taught me lessons that have metamorphosed my life!

Life Lessons Yoga taught me

1. The body, thoughts follow the Breath

Breathe right! It may sound simple or even trivial. But everytime you feel lost, disconnected; Breathe deeper and be aware of the sound and the sensations. It gives you the courage and comfort to keep moving. Just like we use Ujjayi breath to stay in an asana, be aware of your breath to flow through the day!

2. Be present

We are either planning , reviewing, worrying or fantasizing. We are so often caught in the past or future, that we forget to relish the here and now. Yoga without awareness is not yoga! We might do a 108 suryanamaskars with our mind all over the place. But, a mindful 21 suryanamaskars is so much more beneficial to the mind, body and soul! Therefore, use your breath to stay present. 🙂

3. Find your balance

It sounds simple enough to say “you need balance in your life;” But it’s another thing to attain that balance. Yoga teaches us that balance is a result of discipline and perseverance. When we fall off the wagon, we can either wait for the next asana. Or, we decide to get back on the wagon until we succeed. Life plays by the same rules too…

4. Look inside for solutions

I love the quote, “When you change, the whole world around you changes!” “I had a bad day, the mat is slippery, the music is too loud, so on and so forth.” We can either look for everything that is wrong on the outside or you can choose to make your practice better! So often we blaming everything around us. But, maybe we are the sole problem. So look inside, introspect and you will find the best things in life.

5. It’s about the journey, not the destination!

Remember all the times you fell, while trying to get into the headstand. The times worked for a stronger core, that you could get into the headstand. Similarly, life is about the journey, not the destination. Enjoy the means and the end is justified!

6. The body has intuition

Your body knows when to stop or take a break. That’s why the lack of flexibility or we get sick. The body knows your limits, so follow it to be injury-free. Similarly, so often our “heart is wrenching” or “there are butterflies in the stomach.” The body has intuition relating to your physical limits and your emotional needs. Value listening to what the body has to say and you will love and be comfortable in your body!

7. How we do one thing is how we do everything

One of the amazing things about yoga, is that similarly to psychotherapy.  People tend to approach their practice in the same way that they approach other areas of their life. Do you eaily give up when you cannot get into an asana? Everytime you faulter in a balance asanas, do you come back easily? For this reason, raise your practice and life becomes easier!

8. We are good at what we do everyday

When we practice a particular asana everyday. We get into that pose perfectly and we can stay there effortlessly. Similarly, practice kindness, courage, respect everyday. And these qualities become a part of you!

9. Your practice is unique

Do what feels best and feels right in your body. This is the same for your life. Accept challenges and your body/life will have a newness to it. What works for another person may not work for you. So design your life, your way!

10. Laugh at your bloopers

Once in a while we might have fallen on our neighbour, while trying to balance. Or your body might have sqeaked, quacked or wheezed. Just laugh it out! Don’t take life too seriously. Smile in an asana and in your daily life. It’s way to short to get embarrased or depressed. 🙂 🙂

I went into yoga for a physical experience and came out with a renewed sense of purpose! There was mental clarity, gratitude, more flexibility for mankind and a different mental process. Who would have thought all that could come from spending sixty minutes on a mat?

Iti Jain

“Sometimes, I don’t like what I see in the mirror.” And Meditation is a mirror

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When we start practicing meditation on a regular basis. Our awareness automatically increases. We are able to see our motives behind actions, our deepest fears, the mistakes we made; Basically, we are able to see our innermost selves. That is hidden from the world and often from ourselves too!

Thus, when meditating, we are taken aback. Sometimes, we don’t like what we see. But the other times, appreciate yourself for all the good work. Be grateful that you have turned out humane.

Meditation cannot be distorted or you cannot be partial. You will see the good, bad and ugly. BUT, the aim of meditation is not transformation. The result of meditation can be transforming. Overtime, we need to stop judging what we see. We just need to be aware and accepting! And as a result of our awareness, we raise our consciousness as people. Our perspective becomes wider and atleast we see our trueselves. That is often hidden in midst of our ego and chattering mind.

Irrespective of all, spend more time with you. As only when you see the most authentic you, can you help yourself. Orselse, you’ll keep moving in circles.

Meditate, not because you want to become a better person. Meditate, because you want the best of you to be reflected!!

Mind your wings

When Life becomes “A means to an end”

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There are so many things we read, learn or experience, but we’re unable to understand them fully. Then, when we keep hitting the hammer on the same spot.. BAMMMM, our head is hit with understanding that liberates the heart!!

We all talk about living in the present, cutting the past and shutting the future. But, are we even making an effort to do it?

In School-colleges, our efforts are concentrated on the graduation day. We need that excellent score and a few awards to decorate our resume. But, did we enjoy the whole process? Did we live each day as it is, or were we too bothered by, “I ll be ecstatic on that  day, when I score X and win Y..” And similarly, the routine contines with the perfect job, soulmate, dream home  so on and so forth.

Basically, we spend our today working incessantly for a future goal. Why is happiness always work-in-progress? Planning, having goals, is awesome. But, don’t let that stop you from living today. Today-This moment is all we have. Just make the best out of it! Be happy now! Life may throw challenges, unexpected twists; But we need to tune ourself that we can make the best out of every-living-day.

I think, we all know this. It’s just that one day it hits you so hard, that you see the need for detachment from the outcomes. You realize that making today beautiful is the only assurance you can make to your heart and soul. 

Today is not a “means” to an “end” in the future. Live now. Do what makes your heart sing today. Let’s make a better today . So simple, yet so difficult…

Mind your wings

 

When you are Crashing….

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I absolutely love Anthony Robbin’s metaphor of the crashing car. When driving a race car, your focus is immaculate. One moment of distraction and THUD! Whereas sometimes your car skids and you are at a choice point. You either look towards the wall, where you might crash or you focus on the direction where you want to go. 

Similarly, in life we always need to focus on where we want to go instead of what we fear. But, often we are so focused on the problem that we forget to look for the solution instead. And there are times, when we are looking at the solution, but we are unable to comprehend it. In this case, look around, turn it upside down, twist and turn, change your perception and WHOOSH, the solution hits you like a fresh gust of wind. 

Focus and work towards your goal. On the other hand, be flexible with the ways that you can reach your goal. And, when you are skidding; look at where you want to be and there is a greater possibility you’ll be one step closer to your goal. But, without any groundwork the race car goes crashing. Similarly, when you set a goal but lose your focus, you might get lost. Whereas focus gives you clarity and speeds your success.

A mind out of control will play games with you. On the other hand, when you train your mind to FOCUS-DECLUTTER, it is the greatest bane of your life. Finally, what you focus on becomes your reality. 

Mind your wings

 

Unlearning through Yoga

“Education is a process of Unlearning and learning.”

Similarly, Yoga is a process of unlearning and learning afresh. Thanks to our lifestyle and occupational hazards, we have acute stiffness, pains and bad postures. A lot of the new practitioners are taught how to stand right, sit with the spine straight and breathe deep. But, this proves to be more difficult than learning asanas due to the ingrained habits.

Part of the path of yoga is to learn to let go of the ego. The ego doesn’t like to be ordered around and it detests changes.

Yoga as a lifestyle

My journey had a lot of unlearning and letting go. There was too much effort in my postures and in my breathing. My breath was shallow and I was tensing up the shoulders and spine in every posture. Overtime with awareness, I learnt to relax the muscles and focus on a particular stretch or asana. There were a few instructions that I could not follow. But with time, practice and a lot of unlearning, I was gaining more composure in my yoga practice.

As per Patanjali’s Yoga sutras, ” Sthira Sukha Asana” , every practitioner should be steady and comfortable in a posture. On a physical level, an asana should be held comfortably for an extended period. And when we look inside, the key is to pay attention and respond to how you feel moment to moment, rather than imposing a structure from the outside.

Our fast-paced lives and the prevalence of stress-related illnesses, make it clear that we need to simplify and declutter our  lives. So, let’s begin with our body and mind. Many a times we need to unlearn, to improve the quality of our life and living.

Let’s set our sankalp (resolution) to simplify our lifestyle and let go of everything that no longer nourishes our body-mind-life.

It’s not your story to tell

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They say there are two sides to every story. Well, I think there are many sides to that “same story”. Besides the people who were involved, the bystanders have their own perspective, version. So every person emotes and relates to the same story in different ways, which is reflected in their storytelling.

Some stories reflect people’s struggles, lows, weaknesses, addictions and darkness. But, the vantage point must be the transformation, the courage, the determination; which is often lost when you mix the facts with emotions and judgements.

We all have been judged and we are still busy judging others (be it silently), then how can our stories be authentic, how can we represent a story character, why do we get to decide who is the villain, victim or hero.

We need to be brave to tell our story, kind to tell another person’s story and wise to refrain from telling some stories, as it’s not your story to tell!!

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. —Theodore Roosevelt”

Mind your wings

The Path to Wellness- Understanding Anulom Vilom Pranayam

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There’s one quote that has sinked into my subconscious:

“Just Breathe, one inhalation – one exhalation at a time. Form a string of breaths and the magic happens…”

Anulom Vilom Pranayama or alternate nostril breathing exercise is one of the main practices of Pranayama.  It cleanses the pranic channels and balances the two main energy channels – Ida and Pingala thereby balancing the two hemispheres of the brain and it awakens the central channel called Sushumna Nadi.

Lets understand this in simpler language. Any form of deep-conscious breathing is Pranayam. In normal breathing, only one-third of the alveoli(air sacs in the lungs) get oxygen while the remaining remain inactive.As we get older, the inactive alveoli remain full of carbon-dioxide, becoming almost inert and our breathing becomes shortened. In Pranayam as we inhale more oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, our vital lung capacity increases. It helps the lungs in blood purification and improves blood circulation to all the parts of our body.

The ideal ratio in Anulom-Vilom is 1:4:2 (inhale:hold:exhale). We hold the breath for a longer time, as it is difficult to have thoughts when you hold your breath. Besides, our mind is cluttered with thoughts throughout the day, it is in silence that solutions and ideas are formed. We exhale all the toxins and the stress, but we do not prolong it as the rhythm would be broken and our inhalation would be jerky. 

Our goal should be consistency of the rhythm(of our breath). When our breaths are flowing effortlessly, the magic begins… The body recuperates, our minds are filled with tranquility and the soul is rejuvenated!!