For more than 10 years my Mum has been telling me to do yoga. For more than 10 years I have been telling her I hate slow paced sports, therefore I hate yoga. I was far from understanding what yoga is about. And I was far from realizing the reason why I thought I hated slow paced sports.
When planning my round the world trip, my friend who was joining me for about 4 months, proposed a yoga and meditation retreat in India. I said yes, without thinking too much about it. Let’s give it a try! And it’s India!
The setting was beautiful, the surrounding nature was breathtaking and the atmosphere was uplifting and inspiring. We were a group of around 40 people. We had a busy schedule: wake up at 5.30am, morning meditation, chanting, neti pot cleansing, Pranayama (breathing exercises), Hatha yoga, breakfast, Karma yoga, meditative walk, lunch, free time, lecture and discussion, Ashtanga yoga, short break, temple Pooja (Hindu ritual at sunset), mantra chanting, dinner, evening meditation and sleep at 10pm. Every day for 7 days times 2 (because we decided to stay another week). Not only it was physically demanding, but also emotionally challenging. We spent half day in silence and all meals were silent as well. My body was in such pain for the first few days. But a pain that soon went away once I got used to the practice, giving place to a tremendous feeling of well-being. But my mind would keep telling me that I didn’t like yoga. But I kept going. I saw myself coming to every class and feeling so fulfilled, physically and emotionally. The sensation I had was that my mind was telling me something but my body would fight fiercely against it. And if there has been a constant in my trip, it has been yoga. And, until a few weeks ago, that sensation was still there. But I kept going and going and going. And this is what keeps me going: I feel energised, I feel strong, I feel happy. I stopped having pain in my knees when going up and down the stairs (because of a serious knee injury and 2 surgeries). I started eating more mindfully. And, most important of all, I feel a sense of physical and emotional balance I never felt before. Which brings me to my first realization: yoga is not a sport. The physical practice is a means to a greater end. It is a means to get in. To travel within ourselves. To find stillness and quietness in our busy minds. To raise and expand our consciousness. To achieve inner peace.
Throughout my travels I had the opportunity to try different styles of yoga. Some gentler, others stronger and faster. Interestingly, I feel more connected to the slowest paced ones. Which is funny, since that was the reason I believed I hated yoga. And I didn’t really understand why until recently coming to my second realization: I actually don’t hate slow paced sports. I was just looking for business, for noise. For moments where I wouldn’t have to think about something else rather than what I was doing. I was too afraid of quietness, of getting closer to my inner self. Living in autopilot has these things. And it was only because I broke away from it, that I was able to gain new and transformational insights, especially about myself.
> I love yoga, I practice every day, and my mind is already convinced 🙂
> I live mindfully in the present moment, and there is no such thing as postponing happiness!
Graduation Day at Phool Chatti Ashram, Rishikesh, India
With the most talented Yoga Teacher Nikki Stevenson, Canggu, Bali, Indonesia