One of the things I love most about yoga is that each individual person who practices, feels something different when they do. It changes from person to person, and depending on what is going on with you different things will challenge you. Whenever I leave a class with another lovely yoga buddy (you know who you are) we always end up chatting about what we found most challenging or having a giggle because I hit her head with my bum or fell onto it, solidly, in crow pose. It reminded me how amazing it is that every person experiences something different, even though they are practicing the same poses. It’s sort of like a follow on from “What is yoga?” and I hope that it will show you, dear reader, a little bit more about what yoga truly is all about.
Firstly, I need to introduce you to Ellen. She is a wonderfully beautiful soul,one of my best friends and a qualified yoga instructor. She inspires me daily. I haven’t edited Ellie’s words here, because I think they are beautiful and heartfelt.
Say hi to Ellen everyone:)
“Trying to explain why I practice yoga and what it does for me is a question that is answered in a new way every day. Every day that I get on my mat I am faced with a new challenge and receive a new comfort and reminder as to why the next day, I will get up and practice yoga once again. Its something that only the experience can answer for you. However yoga brought three massive shifts into my life, three shifts that I focus all my energy on when teaching, because I believe a change in these three concepts could change the world. Big statement, right? So here’s my complete honesty. I lost my ego. Loss of ego means loss of so much unnecessary pain. Ego brings jealousy, greed, power and everything in between. Without an ego not only do you stop harming others, but nothing can get to you, there’s no longer an ego to bruise. You’re unbreakable. Once the ego has been broken, there’s a heart that needs so much healing. Yoga healed my heart. Every life on this earth endures pain and suffering, most of it that is never set free. Yoga allowed for an inward journey on a massive scale, it allowed for the past to be put in its place making space for the life-giving present. Without suffering I would never have found the yoga practice and without suffering I wouldn’t understand how to heal. How worth is it to feel pain, if it means those lessons can be channeled to healing hearts and maybe even the world? Lastly, yoga brought me love. Love of the practice, love of life, love of everything and anything and the greater challenge of loving yourself. These things happen in sequence, loss of ego allows space for a heart to heal and a healed heart is able to love wholly. Only when you learn to give love do you see how much love there is to receive in return, and when your eyes and heart are open to it, life is more beautiful than ever before.”
The first post we thought we would like to introduce you to – is lotus pose also known as easy pose – see, starting with something easy;)
“This pose has served a hell of a lot of purpose for me. Easy Pose or Lotus is commonly used for meditation, something that I find to be the most challenging part of my yoga practice. Beginning my yoga journey was purely to feed my ego; I wanted to jump straight into the cool stuff. Not too long after starting, I learnt that feeding the soul is a whole lot more enriching. The exact reason that I started, was the reason that stopped me ever sitting in this pose for longer than a quick warm up. My ego wouldn’t let me. It wasn’t hard enough and there was no way I would be seen sitting on the beach in lotus with my eyes closed and my hands in a Mudra. I was terrified of the judgment. While I am sure some people may judge me if they find me meditating on the beach, I think the judgment I was most afraid of was my own. If I was to sit quietly, even just for 5 minutes, in complete stillness with myself, would I be happy with the person that I was sitting with? There is so much self-discovery and self-acceptance that goes on while you are mediating, or just sitting quietly in this pose. It’s magic.
It seems impossibly hard to stop the incessant chatter in your head and if you’re letting your thoughts flow and you’re not happy with what you’re thinking, its just as hard not to judge them and stay detached. Each time the chatter is silenced faster as I have learnt to accept myself and replace ego with kindness. Sitting alone and facing who I am isn’t so bad anymore. I still haven’t been able to really deepen my meditation, but there’s no competition any more, not with myself or anyone else. So I will get there when I get there and if I don’t get there, that’s okay too and I wont be judging myself about it. For anyone else that sees me on the beach mediating and judges, I really do hope you find your way to yoga somehow and learn how a kind world is so much happier than a world full of ego or judgment. Even better, I hope that you come to one of my classes so I can give you a great big hug!”
For me, this pose signals the beginning of my practice. Some days I fidget, because my mind is too busy for my body to handle it. Some days, I find my shoulders creeping closer to my ears than their sockets because it’s been stressful and I’m worrying about too many little things all at once. Some days I feel really silly sitting there, and peep through one eye to make sure no one else is watching me and having a laugh at my yoga face. Some days I can feel my brow furrowed, some days all I do is sit there and wonder what’s for dinner, and then notice how loud the person next to me is breathing, and how that one piece of hair is tickling and I want to itch it so badly. The beauty about this pose is that it forces you to just be there, on your mat. The moving poses, the hard poses are easy in the sense that they keep your brain busy, focused on what you are doing and focused on not falling over onto your face. Somehow, sitting quietly, with nothing but your own thoughts and yourself is harder, and accepting them for whatever they happen to be is harder still.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t sit there and chant a mantra, and I also haven’t yet figured out how to achieve world peace during that little bit of time. But I have learnt to be kinder to myself, and a bit more accepting, I think. I use this pose to set an intention for my practice – whether that is letting things go, challenging myself to remain present for the whole practice or something as simple as being grateful for the life I am living and the people that are in it. Sometimes I dedicate my practice to people who might need some extra love that day, and that makes me happy too. Every day is different, every person is different and every yoga practice is different from the one before it.
A lotus is a beautiful flower, that grows out of a mucky, muddy swamp. It blooms slowly, and its petals open one by one. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from that metaphor…