Every so often the thought strikes me as I dedicate hours upon hours to Yoga, should I be doing something else? Should I listen to those who say this new exercise or training method is better or amazing or the next big thing! Overtime I hear myself asking these questions, I take a moment to pause and connect to what it is I truly want from myself and life, it doesn't usually take very long before I remember what it is Yoga gives me and helps me achieve.
A dilemma but not really!
There are so many fitness regimes, recommendations, activities and groups to be part of at the moment. As adults this is great because we have so many avenues to find fun, to move, to be part of a community and to keep ourselves fit and healthy. With this broad range of choice, why would one choose Yoga and what does Yoga have to offer amongst everything else?
Too much choice!
With so much information being given to us and all these options it can feel really hard to choose or to commit but as one of my teachers once said, ‘At some point to cross the water you are going to have to choose one boat to sit in’. Of course it is great to sample lots of things but really and truly to learn about yourself, to really test yourself, to challenge your tendency to resist the uncomfortable, you have to commit to that journey, you have to choose a boat!
Trust those who have gone before you
Yoga is an ancient practice, that does not mean its methods are outdated or they don't have anything to offer us anymore. Yogis spent their whole lives testing and re testing theories, practices and holistic approaches to health, that time and the results they produced deserves respect and trust. They toiled unwaivered in a mission to help individuals live a life of wellness and connection between mind, body and spirit.
In modern times we also benefit from amazing teachers now who have created huge amounts of research to the anatomical validity of the postures and movements, the ways in which to create better alignment, improve flexibility and strength etc and science has researched the validity and benefits of meditation and mindfulness.
The work that teachers and researchers can put in now is largely supported by those that went before and all those historical texts and practices.
It is great to hear and study new ways to look at things, new approaches, new methods and as a teacher or a participant, it is always nice to freshen things up and re inspire your journey but again we want to make sure that in this search for ‘new’ or in this desire for the next thing that we don't lose sight of the principles or the foundations, the connection to the fundamentals and ourselves.
You know Best!
Ultimately you know best. With all the information overload and distraction it can be easy to lose the connection to yourself and your own inner knowing and wisdom.
We can hop from one teacher to the next and one method to the next and it can feel so easy to say as soon as things don't seem to go our way, or we have a bad day or we dislike what one coach or teacher had to say to pack that option in and hop to the next. We can google any teacher/coach/information from around the world and pick and choose as it suits us which we prefer.
In all this hopping and changing, its like watching 4 movies at once and flicking between them all over an hour, you never really get to grips with the story or characters in any of them! So like that if you are continually changing, one you are sort of staying in this nice comfortable zone where you never really have to test yourself and two you need really get to know yourself past this nice comfortable zone. You never really get the chance to address your own weaknesses, fears, doubts, you never spend time really sitting with them, acknowledging them and learning how to move forward addressing them. Until you can see all sides of yourself, you will never really know yourself and how you can progress and truly learn.
‘The world is your best teacher. There is a lesson in everything. There is a lesson in each experience. Learn it and become wise. Every failure is a stepping stone to success. Every difficulty or disappointment is a trial of your faith. Every unpleasant incident or temptation is a test of your inner strength. March forward hero!’ Swami Sivanada Saraswati
Of course there will be different teachers who help create the right experience or style for you but what Yoga can offer is this real sense of connection to yourself. You roll out your mat, you might meditate, you might move slowly and gently or with flow and strength. You connect to your breath, you move in sync with a connection to something more than thoughts or distractions. You free your body and mind from tension and for moments you feel completely present and immersed.
Forgetting all the latest trends and fads and images online, forgetting all the hype of whats ‘in’ right now the proof is in your own experience. Commit yourself, really test yourself before you write off a theory or practice- feel what happens for you.
Continue, and continue, practice and practice. The journey will never end and you will allow yourself to move with ease, with stability from tight spots, to vast expanses of freedom, openness and possibilities.
And yes it doesn't have to be Yoga!
But with any question of Why there is always the Why not?!
Of course the boat you pick doesn't have to be boring or uninteresting to you, you can chose a boat filled with people or not, filled with fun and adventure. But don't choose the cruise ship with all your meals served and your every desire catered for, you just have to sit back and enjoy the ride! Choose a boat that might take a little bit of work, that makes you stand up and get involved, that is going to be an epic adventure!
Let there be twists and turns and diversions from the plan.
Let it all interest you, let the learning and the journey be your purpose and your goal. Forget about this achievement or that or getting there the fastest! At the end of your journey be able to say that you invested all your awareness in each and every moment.
At the end of the day, achievements and results in and of themselves are irrelevant and almost boring, what matters is how well you know yourself, how well you have truly loved yourself and others. Yoga for me reminds of this constantly and I certainly am going to stick with it!