Yoga

This morning I didn’t want to get out of bed. It was rainy and cold and I knew I had a long day of work ahead of me. It took a significant amount of time and quite a few mental pep talks, but eventually I got up, made breakfast, and went to the studio.

I started doing yoga a year and a half ago (wow so long ago!), beginning in January 2016. In this time, I have been able to feel myself grow so much. Yoga has improved my life in too many ways to count, and this is my little appreciation post.

Yoga is not about being flexible, or strong. It’s not about the poses, or even the breath, though these are all important aspects of a practice. Yoga is about creating space in your mind and in your body. It’s not a performance, it’s a practice. It’s showing up and trying your best no matter how you feel.

It’s something you can do when you’re tired and sick and injured. Especially then – that’s when you really need to listen to your body. Yoga is a practice that you can modify according to what your mind and body need that hour, that day.

Yoga is challenging. There are poses that require specific muscle groups that you don’t have when you start, that you have to work towards. Many poses you can’t do at first, or can’t do properly. There are still poses I thought I understood which I was actually doing wrong – I was muscling through when I should have been breathing into it.

There is plenty of tightness and aches in my body. Yoga doesn’t stop the pain; instead, it allows you to grow from it. To create a space where you can be comfortable in spite of the physical pain you feel. The mental practice does the exact same thing. It doesn’t change the way the world is: all the bad parts of the world still exist; you are the same person in the same circumstances before and after your practice. Yoga allows you to create a headspace where you approach your situation with love. This is what makes all the difference.

I grew up doing all sorts of competitive sports: gymnastics, soccer, track & field; yoga is the only physical activity I’ve done that has no external purpose: it’s just for me. It makes my experiences more positive, my days better: it allows me to become a more positive person. It makes me stronger and fitter, to create space in my body, but much more importantly, to create space in my mind. Having the time to focus on my breathing, my body, the moment clears my head. I’m able to focus on what’s important during my practice, and it carries through to the rest of the day.

I have the most incredibly loving and supportive teacher, who always encourages us to listen to our bodies. Who pushes me because she believes in me, who teaches me how to make myself better. Who really loves me. It’s the most incredible thing to start every day seeing her and listening to my body, breathing and moving and creating space.

If you’ve never tried yoga, definitely do. It doesn’t matter if you’re good or not, if you’re able to do the poses all the way. Just be there, breathe, and create space within yourself to grow. That is yoga, and that has changed my life more than I can express.

 

Expectations vs. Reality

Something I think a lot about is whether or not expectations are a good thing. Some people say they forgo them altogether, but that doesn’t resonate with me. It’s true that by having no expectations you will never be disappointed, but how can you create anything new if you only accept the world as it is? I think that there are definitely situations in which having expectations are favorable, and this is me rationalizing that process.

Emotional suffering is created by the disparity between your expectation of what the world will be, your “ideal reality” and actual reality, the world as it really is. To alleviate suffering, the two have to be reconciled. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Change your current situation to resemble your ideal reality
  2. Change your ideal reality to suit your current situation

If you can change the world to suit your ideal reality, do it!! We have an incredible ability to change our environment to suit us, and the people who believe this and take advantage of it are way more successful than those that don’t. If you can change the world in a positive way as a result of your expectations, create something new that is different and better than the world used to be, that’s incredible. However, I think this is the only instance in which it’s good to have expectations – if they are realistic enough that you can actually change the world to mirror them.

If it’s not possible to change the world to fit your expectations and you’re suffering as a result, this will make you unhappy and upset. Unhealthy attachment to unrealistic expectations can definitely have negative repercussions. If your expectations are negatively affecting your life, you should let them go by pursuing the second option: changing your ideal reality to suit the real world by accepting what is. Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual teacher whose principle philosophy is to be in tune with the present moment. In many situations, this is a really good thing. It increases your awareness of your environment and greatly reduces the possibility of experiencing emotional suffering. When you are immersed in the moment, in the real world, there is no issue, no conflict, no reason for the disparity. However, there’s no motivation for you to change the world either.

I believe that the only instances in which you can’t change your current situation are those that involve other people, because you can control a lot of things, but other people’s actions are not one of them. This is why relationships are really good at teaching people to have faith and let go: it’s the only option left to alleviate suffering.

inspirations for this post:

– Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

– a failed relationship or two