Yoga isn’t just about postures or poses. Honestly, it’s the ideal movement to understanding yourself and allowing your conscious and subconscious self to evolve towards a better you
Words Kino MacGregor
What is yoga, exactly? Is it just an exercise form? Is it a religion, a philosophy, an ideology? Or is it something else entirely? The word “Yoga” literally means “union”. Yoga is a mind and body practice with a 5,000-year-old history in ancient Indian philosophy. Various styles of yoga combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation.
The heightened stress and fast pace of today’s world make yoga more relevant than ever. We spend so much time on autopilot, checking off things on our to-do list. Yoga can help people slow down. Yoga can help find quicker and painless ways to manage stress and improve one’s overall well-being.
Millennials are always craving some sort of change and the constant need to take faster leaps towards the next thing. Gen-Y has many amazing tools for navigating life in the 2010s. Smartphones have enabled us to have literally any information at our fingertips at all times. We can easily stay connected to our friends and family members who live hundreds, maybe thousands of miles away via social media and FaceTime. New industries and new types of jobs are popping up constantly, and we have many avenues for self-expression and entrepreneurship available to us that generations before us didn’t. But, there’s a fine line between being connected in a positive, beneficial way and being so connected that we end up disconnected from our own lives. Gen-Y is definitely toeing the line.
Millennials are looked upon as the change-makers who are driving this shift from an unhealthy lifestyle to a more mindful way of living. But what is it that is inspiring them to make the change? Just the availability of information and an increase in awareness? No. Unfortunately, it is the increase in lifestyle choices and the fast-food fast-service life that is one of the main causes of concern and health issues today.
How can we find a balance between staying connected to what’s going on in the world while still remaining present with ourselves and others in our immediate surroundings?
Yoga is becoming an increasingly popular workout and it’s hardly surprising – imagine a form of exercise that not only improves flexibility, strengthens your muscles and contributes to weight loss, but also centres your mind, your thoughts and relaxes you. Not only that, but yoga can also be done in a class with others or in the privacy of your own home. Is Yoga a form of exercise? Is it a philosophy or a religion? Or is it, in fact, a way of life? Yoga, in short, encourages the connection between your mind, body and your breath, which are considered the three fundamental components of all human beings. Yoga practice focuses on a series of postures that are designed to increase your strength and flexibility whilst also focusing on your breathing.
Yoga is hard. But, don’t let that stop you from trying it. People assume that I was naturally good at yoga when I first started. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I was not naturally good at yoga, but I have been practising for over 20 years. If there is one thing I am certain of, it’s this—if you start practising yoga today and keep practising, you will radically change your body, mind and most likely also your life.
IF YOU START PRACTISING YOGA AND CONTINUE PRACTISING, YOU WILL RADICALLY CHANGE YOUR BODY, MIND AND ALSO YOUR LIFE
You don’t need to be able to perform challenging poses when you first start. In fact, it’s better for the inner work of the practice if you cannot easily do many of the poses. Students of yoga learn far more from the poses that feel impossible than from the poses that feel easy. I understand how intimidating it is to see masters of yoga poses effortlessly perform what seems like circus acts when something like a forward bend seems out of reach. As a student, I have flopped, fallen, flailed, face-planted and failed in so many ways that I’ve lost count. There were so many times that I thought this yoga just wasn’t for me. I looked at my small body with short arms and thigh thighs and thought that if only my arms were longer or my butt smaller, yoga would be easier for me. I wished I’d started yoga at a younger age (I took my first class at 19!). I wondered if there was something wrong with me specifically. But, over years of practice, I found the way through the impossible to the possible. And I know you can too.
Yoga is not a constraint to a body type, shape, height or strength. It’s something that is designed by you, for you. 20 years later I’m a happier, kinder person than I was when I started. There is more peace and love in my life today than there was before. I’ve struggled, stumbled and fallen, sometimes grandly and publicly. But I learned how to pick myself back up and try again, and again, and again. 10,000 tries later I found out what true strength means. Yoga has helped me feel more aware of myself, my mind and balance my walk of life.