In today's guest post my fellow health practitioner and an awesome yoga teacher Yui Yamashita is sharing her thoughts on why you want to become friends with yoga, especially if you are a career high-flyer spending endless hours at work.
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Yoga for self awareness and abundance: Three easy ways to introduce yoga into your life
Over to Yui:
What is your first reaction when you hear the word “Yoga”?
Take a moment to sit in this wonderment. How does your body react? What kind of thoughts travel through your mind? What judgements do you make? How is your breathing? Let me take you on a journey of how I met yoga and how it has changed my life - and how it can also help you get closer to your truest path.
Nowadays in this speeding society yoga is widely available in gyms, yoga studios, retreats on beautiful beaches and of course in the comfort of your own homes with online videos. But what are you looking for in yoga? When you’re life is filled with so many to-do lists, people to see, houses to be cleaned, books you bought months ago to be read, things you want to do but don’t have the time to do, feed the cat and oh more veggies to be eaten.
We create so many demands in our lives and so many attachments to things, to people, to our thoughts, and to ourselves. I was living a life of 9 till 5 full time job (very emotionally demanding), plus working as a consultant selling Thermomixes, having a small business with a girlfriend of raw-vegan-organic foods which I loved, and had a partner who was as busy, if not more busier than me. This lead me to my mind working 24 hours a day, either working or being creative with my business or just socializing with friends.
Either way, my mind and body would give up once in a while and I needed to put everything on hold so that I could recover both physically and mentally. It would only take a day or two at home to get back and I’d be going 100km/hr again and never really learnt my lesson. If your job is demanding, if you have a family, or that you have many obligations, we have all been there when you are just pulled in every direction and flying through time - literally, not remembering how everything felt, how things made you feel, how it was to be there in that moment. Because you were disconnected from your body, mind and spirit.
Does this ring a bell?
Then here are three easy steps to get you started your friendship with yoga:
Step One: Take your notebook and a pen. Write down what you are doing right now for yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. Then write down what you would like to be doing for yourself and try to think of things that would fit all three categories of physical, mental and spiritual.
For me it was yoga. Yoga came into my life in my early 20s and I would attend the classes casually and thanks to the classes it made me a little bit more flexible, but I never took notice other than how it affected me physically. Until much later that I started to feel stillness on the mat which I could not get anywhere else in my life. It gave me such a pleasure to be in my body, to notice how my muscles moved, how my mind calmed down. Slowly I started to live my life again - noticing the small things, giving gratitude for the things I’ve taken for granted, I moved slower but with more purpose, I worked in a much more awake state with my heart, rather than working mechanically job after job, and most importantly I was able to give more.
Step Two: Underneath the list of things you would like to be doing for yourself, write down how you want to be feeling, how it will change you and your life.
Now when I practice yoga, my mind quiets, my body moves with my breath, I feel every sensation in my body, and notice how this affects my thoughts as I watch them like an observer. Off the mat, when I am met with situations like someone is yelling at me, I am pushed for time, or under pressure, I can step back and not get caught up in the crazy mess of the world and people around me.
I take a breath and remember how I can connect to the deep stillness within. To take a moment before reacting to that person yelling at me, but to respond with calmness, with more patience, with more kindness and compassion. This mindfulness skill I learned in yoga and by practicing in my daily life has allowed me to live more in the present moment.
Whether you have a partner, children, with your family and your friends, colleagues, it can lead you to have a better relationship because you are actually there at the moment, listening to them, to really hear their deeper meaning not just their words and respond in the most loving way.
As you learn more about your body, your mind and yourself through yoga, so many things become effortless, or that you struggle less and you don’t find yourself banging your head against the wall anymore. You know when you need to take a break, you know when you need to be by yourself for some quiet time, you know when you need to ask for support, and you know how best to work with people and to be there for others in need.
You will have the courage to say no if it’s not going to fit within your capacity, and do the things that are truly in line with your values.
There is also that beautiful connection you feel with your body. Maybe you might be feeling frustrated that you cannot touch your toes, but its not about being flexible; I have so many students saying at the beginning of the class “I’m stiff as a tree” well that’s great because we have a tree pose coming up! But really what matters is how you interact with yourself in those postures; with compassion, the observer self, not judging yourself and not comparing yourself to others, because we are all on our own journey. Rolf Gates says “The pose is what you are doing. Yoga is how you are being in the pose.” If you can let go of expectations and judgements and let yourself be (quietening that voice that is saying you can’t do it any longer) you will feel something shift. It’s a very unique and beautiful experience which you will find yourself in your own time, with patience and practice.
Step Three: Now write the steps - breaking them down into small actions on how you’re going to start incorporating your practice. Write down when you’re going to do it, with what.
If it is meditation, create a space where you will be meditating everyday, schedule it into your diary.
If it is yoga then search for that studio that your friend had mentioned to you one day, or find one that you resonate with and that you are intrigued to try and meet the teacher (most of the studios will explain the yoga style and a little bit about each of the teachers teaching there). The key here is to do break down the steps of how you’re going to make your spiritual practice a daily practice. You can even start with few minutes of meditation, one or two yoga postures a day to get yourself into it.
It takes time and commitment to practice yoga, and it is not easy if you have a highly demanding life. Making this commitment to practice, to turn up on the mat can be a life changer for some. It certainly changed my life and now I make time to do yoga because it is what I want to prioritize in the end. If you are working too much and not enjoying your life, if your relationships are not going well, if your health is deteriorating, and if you’re out of balance, what is the most important thing you can do for yourself? An effort to have your own spiritual practice could change your whole life, slowly by first fully experiencing your life.
Bonus Step: Be kind to yourself along the way and cheer yourself up.
Remember that change and improvement comes from consistency and being open to this new you. With each day, feel the subtle difference it brings to you and within a few months time you wouldn’t believe how far you’ve come.
Now it’s time for you to discover your potential. Where will you start?
Share in the comments below.
Yui Yamashita is a yoga teacher, health and lifestyle coach and the founder of Sensory Yoga - where all senses are stimulated and explored through yoga, music, and food.
Yui is currently based in Barcelona offering Sunday morning yoga and brunch sessions in her private terrace and home. It is a place where yoga and conscious food lovers unite and share experiences.
For more information on Yui's Sunday yoga and brunch events check out her website or connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.