The past 10 years of my yoga journey has had a lot of up downs and learning experiences. I started practicing yoga in Hong Kong when I worked there as a teacher at an International School. I got into teaching Kids Yoga to my students while I was there then upgraded to 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training when I moved back to Canada. As a private and corporate yoga teacher I noticed many of my students were limited by pain due to repetitive stress or a health diagnosis. Unequipped with the appropriate skills to help them I started learning yoga therapy, which not only got me out of pain from a previous car accident, it also helped my students get out of pain. Now in private practice as yoga therapist and approaching my 10th Yoga Anniversary, I reflected back on what has happened during that time. My reflections showed up as ways I have changed or evolved and lessons I have learned along the way. Here are my top 10 lists for my last 10 years.
My Top 10 lessons learned
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Yoga processes don’t change who you are – you get clearer on who you are – you change how you are. I used to think a long pilgrimage or seeking spiritual enlightenment was going to provide the answers I was seeking. No matter where we are in the journey, we are always going to have troubles and how we show up with the problems as they arise is the testament of transformation. True change and transformation happens bit by bit, by taking incremental baby steps over time.
- Advanced yoga is not crazy, contoronist postures. Advanced yoga is the willingness and ability to do as little as possible, keep coming back to the basics and learning something new about yourself. We have a tendency to work too hard in yoga classes. Slowing down and cultivating a sense of ease is necessary for healing to happen.
- Relaxing and letting go is not a thing that you do. Relaxation and letting go is the result of slowing down and cultivating ease. The better we feel, the easier it is to let go of things or people that make us feel crappy.
- In any aspect of life, if you want a different outcome, something has to change – you might have to do something differently or see things from a different perspective.
- Sometimes what you are attracted to is not what you need, sometimes it is. Being able to discern is a process. Mindfulness practices can help us grow our awareness and presence moment to moment.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make requests. Advocate for what you need.
- When you learn how your body is meant to move and move in a way that doesn’t increase tension, strain or pain, progress is going to be a lot faster and meaningful.
- The more we can feel, the more we will become aware and the better we can listen to our bodies signals communicating with us. This means more opportunities for us to choose how we respond to those signals. With practice we can start to discern how our body is constantly communicating with us right down to the subtle, nuanced whispers.
- Taking time for self-care and making it part of your daily life is the single most important thing you can do. You deserve to proactively take care of your health.
Top 10 Ways I have Evolved
- Asana – For me it started off being all about the yoga poses. The poses were the thing to strive towards for a long time, until I realized that they weren’t the thing – the movement piece became a catalyst for everything else.
- Resilience – I am resilient AF. I’ve come to a point in my life where I can look back at the challenges and take lessons from all of it. I now appreciate and look forward to change. I embrace challenge.
- Awareness – I’ve become very aware of all the things I was tolerating. Releasing the stuff and people that I no longer want to tolerate has given me much more freedom to notice other stuff that matters.
- Grounded – People often describe me as being very grounded and confident. I use to feel untethered, all. the. time. My mind kept me awake at night. I worried. I was stressed. I was anxious. I was angry, easily irritated, frustrated. Dedication to my yoga practices and routines helped me release all of these things and I now have the skills to manage them when they do show up.
- Gratitude – Learning how to practice gratitude on a daily basis was another catalyst for change. It made me more resilient, more aware, kinder, more compassionate, more grounded and happier.
- Health – I have far fewer colds, less aches and pains, I sleep better, have more energy, and am physically stronger and have better movement patterns and a greater awareness of what is related to not feeling well.
- Priorities – Self-care has become a priority. If I’m not healthy and am feeling over stressed then what’s the point? I’ve learned how to create a self-care lifestyle and set healthy boundaries with work and not feel guilty about it
- Presence – I engage in a lot of introspection, personal reflection and contemplation. I am getting better and better at being in the moment. Meditation and mindfulness helps. Listening to the language of my body (mindfulness) – noticing the physiological sensations, mental chatter, emotional responses, etc inform my decisions and interactions.
- Values – Recently I’ve been focusing more of my attention on my values. They evolve and change over time. What was important to me in my mid-twenties, is not the same as in my mid-thirties. There is also a difference between the values I aspire to and the values I actually live, those which are demonstrated through my actions and behaviour. I’ve also noticed that my values might not always be completely mine. Part of my values are created in my relationships with others. “I am because we are.” – African proverb.
- Seeking Support – I used to think I had to and could do it all on my own. Migraines forced me to seek medical help and I’ve since realized in other areas of my life that I can’t do it all on my own either. There is no shame in asking for help or support. Working with my own yoga therapist was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Support is necessary. Seeking support is an act of self-love – something we need to give ourselves more of.
No matter who you are, we all have a deep need for support. Ask for it. Don’t be afraid to seek it out. Know that I’m here to support you too. If you feel like you need some support to come up with a self-care plan that is appropriate for your life I’d be really happy to chat with you.