There is much in the way of guidance/ advice as to how to get the most out of yoga and sometimes it can be difficult to decide which advice to follow. Whenever I feel that I need a little help with my yoga journey, there are three guidelines that I revisit time and again, which continue to influence my yoga journey:
Practice makes perfect. The more we practice anything, the more adept we become. In time what we practice becomes habit which often requires no effort at all. Through practice we move from ignorance to knowledge, from darkness to illumination. It teaches us an appreciation of our bodies, our ability to move and our ability to commit.
2. Patience/letting go
Patience allows us to make space, to listen, observe and grow. It helps us to learn and quiets the ego which can often lead us to injury. Patience gives us the ability to really pay attention to our bodies and work with, rather than against them. It reminds us that the care with which we move into and out of a posture is as important as the posture itself. It teaches us to be compassionate, not only to ourselves, but to others and opens the door to transformation.
We spend much of our time creating impatience and mental noise, setting ourselves goals and constantly striving to reach them. In doing so we can end up pushing ourselves to our limits, creating a never-ending spiral of moving from one goal to the next and becoming increasingly impatient and bombarded by our own thoughts. If we let go, we find perspective, patience and stillness. We are able to just be, to live in the moment and in that moment accept who we are with all our limitations, realising that our goals don’t really matter at all. We become open to every possibility.
3. Importance of the breath
Our breath is a great teacher. It is a sure indication of our state of being at any point in time and a perfect gauge in any yoga practice for when we are relaxed or trying too hard. The breath can create internal focus and controlled movement during posture practice. It also leads us to stillness, meditation and mindfulness. Pranayama reveals just how powerful the breath can be and how we can affect our state of mind through breath control. Not only that, it increases our breathing capacity, bringing more oxygen into the body. The breath is the essence of yoga.