“Don’t seek, don’t search, don’t ask, don’t knock, don’t demand – relax. If you relax, it comes. If you relax, it is there. If you relax, you start vibrating with it.” ~Osho
Most of you will know I’m a bit of a yogi. I say ‘bit’ because really, unless I’d been practising for a few lifetimes, I could never justify giving myself the title of ‘yogi’ – the wisdom and dedication true yogis hold is awe-inspiring. So yes, I’m a ‘bit’ of a yogi.
There is so much you can learn from yoga, not only on a physical level but on a deeply emotional and profound level. I wanted to share with you my three favourite things that I’ve learned over the years I’ve been practising (and you don’t even have to stick your leg over your head!).
Every day is different
At the start of every class I took whilst I was at university, my teacher would say the same phrase, ‘Everyday in yoga is different’. What she meant by this was for us to accept however our bodies and minds felt that day; just because we could touch our toes yesterday, doesn’t mean we would do today.
Time is a fluid concept in yoga. It doesn’t just go forwards and backwards, it is present in this moment only. That means that ‘progression’ is a strange concept too. Logically, most people who take up yoga will ‘get better’ and become more flexible in their Hatha (physical) practice the more they do, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
Yoga teaches us to accept each day and each moment as a standalone unit. It doesn’t have to be better or worse than the day before or after. It just ‘is’.
Take this in to your everyday life. Live each moment accepting it as an individual moment in your life that doesn’t always have to be compared and rated against other moments in your life. If you do this you will start to appreciate being present and enjoying each moment for what it is; an irreplaceable moment of your life.
Go with the flow
The second thing that has always stayed with me is the concept of ‘going with the flow’. It sounds like such a cliché nowadays but actually there is so much to be said for allowing yourself to release your grip on control and be flexible as circumstances change.
As I often say, we are not responsible for other people, just as they are not responsible for us. No-one can make you feel a certain we – we choose how we feel and react.
Instead of getting stressed when things don’t go to plan, try accepting the changes as the universe guiding you in a new direction or (if you’re not spiritually minded) seeing the new possibilities the changes are opening up for you.
Be flexible in your approach and, like the gentle river, flow around the boulders and obstacles in your way rather than fighting to smash them in two (how very ‘Way of the Tao’!) – you’ll find life so much less stressful when you embrace this approach.
I’m not saying, by the way, that this is easy. Being a self confessed control freak myself I found this incredibly difficult to do at first and still find my breathing getting shallower if someone tries to change plans on me at the last minute, but I now consciously remember to ‘go with the flow’.
I take a deep breath, look at my surroundings and ask myself, ‘where are the positives in this change?’.
There is no competition
This is a biggy. It’s also the main reason most competitive people leave yoga practice. In yoga, there is no competition…not even with yourself.
What this means is that it doesn’t matter if you are ‘better’ or ‘worse’ at your practice than you were yesterday, or if your friend, who you starting classes with, can now get her head to her knees whilst you’re still struggling to reach your toes. Every day in yoga is different.
Anyone with a remotely competitive bone in their body will really struggle with this. I won’t lie. It’s not easy. But when it finally clicks, it’s the most liberating experience. That complete acceptance of yourself as a whole being, free of judgement and recriminations feels completing wonderful.
‘No competition’ is a concept we, in the western world, are very unfamiliar with. Even if we reject attempts at competition in the workplace (and let’s face it, if we do, we’re seen as ‘not ambitious’), there is normally always a part of us that wants to improve ourselves. If we’ve been going to yoga classes for a year and not seen any improvement in flexibility then chances are we’d feel disappointed.
That’s not yoga.
The moment you allow yourself to just ‘be’ completely in the moment, irrespective of what has gone before and what might come after, you will understand yoga and what it means to be truly free.
I highly recommend yoga but it isn’t for everyone and no one way is right for everyone, but the things I’ve learnt above have helped me a lot in both my personal and professional life. Like I said, I’ve still got a long way to go and particularly still feel a sense of competition outside my daily sadhana (practice) but I’m taking each day as it comes and enjoying each moment.