I started the practice of yoga asana in January of 2007 as a form of exercise. Little that I know back then that Yoga practice will become an integral part of my life. I wrote this short narrative back in 2009, and it is a good reminder of how my practice used to be and how grateful I am to have the kind of practice that I have now. I will be posting more about my yoga practice and the journey I had for almost 10 years now, but I think that this is a good start! After all, this is only the beginning.
Yin yoga used to make me angry.
The thought of holding a pose for more than 30 seconds used to make me grinch in pain. I used to judge and value a yoga class by how vigorous the flow is; how exhausted it will make me feel, and how sweaty I can get. Yoga was a mere physical practice for me. I felt challenge by the “funky” pose and was really attached to what I can or cannot do. I practiced because I just want to “get there” and perform the most challenging pose available. I practiced day and night, with dedication and persistence, hoping that one day I will be able to do asana like Dharma Mittra in his famous yoga asana chart.
Off course, dedication and persistence did lead to something. I was always the funkiest in class back then – at least most of the time. But I was probably also the most sore. Injuries by injuries come and go, one followed by another, while I kept pushing myself for more, ignoring and believing that all the injuries will soon pass if I continue practicing. I believed that yoga asana will heal everything physically.
It took me while – and a broken heart – to value the real meaning of a yoga practice.
In the first year of my yoga practice, I was emotionally challenged by a shattered relationship, lost love, and a future plan that fell apart – leaving me as destroyed as a piece of recycled paper going through a shredding machine. But the yoga asana obsession continues. However, instead of being the competitive and persistent me, I came to yoga as ways of escape, to take my mind off my pain and broken heart. I came to each class with raw emotions and an incredible noisy mind.
And suddenly all the noise stops.
My yoga practice brought me to the sacred space of peace. Yes, the asanas were still vigorous, but I was able to go beyond all the physical aspects and observe what was going on in my mind and not only what was going on in the body. I realized that to feel balance, you first need to feel imbalance – and through imbalance, you can find balance and peace. With the new found experience and feeling, I then embarked on a new journey of exploration and self-discovery.
Throughout my second year, I was blessed with the opportunity to study from various teachers and explore the various styles of yoga. I jumped from Hatha, Vinyasa, Bikram, Power, Iyengar, Universal, and now that I am no longer anxious, I even had a taste of the luscious effect of Yin Yoga. I became more mindful in my practice, trying to be kind to my own body – respecting its limitation and giving chance for every injury to heal completely. Yoga is finally becoming a real practice – it is not about competition, it is not about the funky pose, and it is definitely not about becoming the Dharma Mittra ultimate chart. Dharma Mittra stays as an inspiration – but he is no longer the goal.
As my practice evolve, so does my body and mind. Slowly my breath becomes longer, and my body becomes stronger. Mindful practice has rewarded me with a calmer, more observant mind, and along with calm, comes patient and sense of surrender.
Slowly but sure, I found my comfort zone within the boundaries of my yoga mats. I am now able to hold a pose longer without being angry, and I am able to allow my body to let go of all the restriction and just be in the flow. Following my own breath and energizing every single cells of my body. My yoga is my meditation, and with every asana, I closed my eyes to feel the tingling sensations and the pulsing of the joints, the flow of the blood, and the pumping of the heart. No more struggle, no more wrinkled forehead, no more aching and screaming joints and tissues.
I am liberated.
I am in peace.
Nowadays, every time I step my foot on to my mat, I first thank the universe for giving me the chance to practice. And after every flow, every asana, pranayama, shavasana, and meditation, I thank my body for giving me the chance to practice within its capabilities. Yoga is all about sharing – you share your practice with yourself, then you share your practice with others. Being with your inner Yin means to go inward in your practice, while realizing that the greatest challenge is not to stay inward, but how you project your inner, outward.
I finally met my teacher, Shri OP Tiwari from Kaivalyadhama in October 2011, and since then have devoted my practice to the study and practice of classical yoga and pranayama. In the same year, I also met my other teacher, Paul Dallaghan from Samahita Retreat , who is the senior student of Tiwarji. Looking back, I sometimes feel that life has managed to always surprise me in every turns and tales, but for everything that I am now, I will always be grateful.
Helsinki, 28 Oct 2016