I finished a Yoga course last year. Now, I am a certified Yoga teacher. The process taught me a lot. At a fundamental level. Here are 7 Life Lessons I learnt.
- STOP THINKING AND GET STARTED
I have had a Love Hate relationship with Yoga for years. I Loved the idea of doing it but Hated actually starting. Then one day, I did. The Sivananda Yoga Centre in Gurgaon announced a Teachers Training Course, and I blindly signed up. Three months and 200++ awesome and infuriating and excruciating and painful hours later, I was a certified Yoga Teacher. And eight kios lighter. And totally at peace with my world.
Life Lesson ? When you find yourself resisting something, just dive in and do it twice as intensely. I could have taken baby steps and joined the gentle seniorish folks doing Yoga in the park. Instead I signed up to practice with some of the best yogis in the world. Automatically, my standards went up.
- ONCE YOU GET SOMEWHERE, STAY ALERT
After all the benefits that I got from the course, complacency crept in. The self sabotaging part of my mind swung into action. The devil in me won over my angels. My consumption of bad foods and alcohol went thru the roof. I tried every ice cream flavour and beer brand in America during a month long holiday there. My yoga practice became erratic and finally stopped. Physically, I gained back the 8 kilos I had lost, and then gained 6 more. Mentally, I felt drained and lost.
Life Lesson ? Stay alert. ‘One step forward, Two steps back’ is the way nature works. Break this chain. Or the chain will sabotage you.
- THE MORE WE PRACTICE, THE BETTER WE GET
On Day 1 of Asana Practice, I could barely bend and touch my knees. In month 2, my fingers touched my shins. In month 4, they were within kissing distance of my ankles. My breathing was better. Progress was steady. Some days were better than others. With every session, I could feel myself improving in the quality of my practice.
Life Lesson ? Keep at it. Keep practicing. Progress will follow. Kaizen. Continuous Improvement. Or as one of the foremost Yoga Gurus, Pattabhi Jois, used to say, “Do your practice and all is coming”.
- RUN YOUR OWN RACE
We were a batch of 48 yogis. I mm in regular touch with about 12 of them. We chat often. I count these people as good friends. Each of them is a million zillion times better at Asana practice than I am. If I compare my practice to theirs, I would be a nervous wreck. But I do my own. While Aman is doing the most divine Paschimmotasana ever and buries her head in her knees, I rest my palms on my shins and I feel my spine breathing. When Seema does a perfectly symmetrical Trikonasana, I crane my neck to see my fingers (they remain maddeningly invisible). When Rajeev is still as a statue in Shirsasana, I am huffing and puffing my own personal take on the Dolphin, as Dyutima tries not to roll her eyes and to keep a straight face. Radhika giggles uncontrollably seeing my Shashankasana and teases me mercilessly. But in each case, I feel a lovely stretch. And I and my mind feel one with my body.
Life Lesson ? Don’t try to be better than others. Be better than who you were yesterday.
- MISTAKES HAPPEN. CORRECT THEM AND MOVE ON
When I started my practice, I was a nightmare technically. I would have required knee surgery in a few years if I had continued doing Positions 4 and 9 in the Surya Namaskar the way I was. My Kapalabhatti sounded like a steam engine gone bust. As I rested in an asana, my gaze, Dristhti, was strained and I looked like I was in a torture chamber. My alert teachers, Arun and Dyutima and Deeksha, caught on and made basic corrections. Similarly, I was struggling with some aspects of Sarvangasana, Shoulder Stand. I reached out to Superna, she did a session with me, and suggested three changes that dramatically improved what I was doing.
Life Lesson ? Be open to correcting your mistakes. Ask for help. Find good mentors to point them out to you.
- SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING
Life Lesson ? Do what you can, when you can, where you can, how you can.
- CREATE YOUR OWN FUTURE
Shit happens. We mess up. Just like I did in the 6 months following the Yoga course. Now I have dusted myself up and am moving on. I have learnt my lessons and am recommitting to my practice. And will leave my mistakes behind, having learnt my lessons and after seeking forgiveness from those impacted. And I will be a better Yogi and a better person next year than I am now.
Life Lesson ? The past is for historians and accountants. The future is ours to create.
So, there you are, folks. My life lessons from my Yoga practice. Equally applicable to any aspect of our life be it our Work, Career, Relationships, Hobbies, Finances or Personal Development. And yes, our Yoga practice.
Also published on Medium.