March 14, 2016 at 11:43 am #98978AislynnParticipant
I know that everyone has different opinions on what yoga is, but basically I suppose we can all agree that it is a union of the body, mind, and soul through the breathing and poses… But what is yoga to YOU? I feel like the definition is so broad and vague and I feel like I am missing something in my yoga practice and wanted insight as to how it differs from person to person.
I’ve tried doing yoga many many times, only to give up. I always felt silly doing the poses and found that they were hard for me to do as I am not a very flexible person. I didn’t like how slow it was, and I always looked forward to being done. I suppose that is why I never stuck to it. However, despite that, what kept me trying over and over again was how I felt afterwards, so calm and relaxed despite what problems or concerns I might be having.
I’ve now been practicing yoga for about a month, twice a week. I told myself that this time I’d really give it a try and I have. I can’t say that it’s been easy because it hasn’t. At first, I just looked forward to finishing each session, that’s all I wanted. To do it and be done with it. However, somewhere along the line, something changed. Now I look forward to my yoga sessions. I may not be able to do each pose as it should be done, and I’m still working on my breathing, but I genuinely enjoy it. I like how it challenges my body and my mind. I no longer feel silly while doing each pose, I embrace it. However, I can’t help but feel that I am missing something.
I’ve always thought about yoga as a way to relax and let go of your thoughts, and even now I am having trouble letting go of what I am thinking about. Sometimes I’ll be counting how much is left in a pose. Others I’ll be focused on keeping my balance, or dealing with the discomfort of the pose. What goes on in your mind during yoga if anything? Any help is greatly appreciated.March 14, 2016 at 11:56 am #98980anitaParticipant
Yoga is or should be a mindfulness practice, mindfulness or attention to the body and to the moving of the body. It always starts, continues and ends with breathing. And then it is paying attention to the body. For example in mountain pose, you start with paying attention to your feet: stand with your big toes touching. So when you look at your toes or place them so the big toes are touching, at that moment, you are focusing on your big toes/ feet- and at least at that moment- your mind is not rushing with thoughts. Then you lift your toes and the balls of your feet, spread your toes and place them gently on the floor. Again, as you do just that, your attention is on your toes and ball of feet and on how it feels to lift them, spread toes, gently place on floor. Then you lift your heels… and rock back and forth a bit and side to side as you establish a feel of your feet on the floor. As you do these things you attend to your body and to how it feels. As you do that your brain is not rushing with thoughts.
The idea is to practice mindfulness throughout the day. You can say: practice yoga throughout the day… pay attention to your body and how you move it, making movements intentional and not automatic. Our brains wonder with thinking when we do things automatically.
anitaMarch 14, 2016 at 11:46 pm #99022AnyoneParticipant
I’m in complete sync with what Anita has said.
Additionally, I have noticed that the day I’m more relaxed mentally, makes me ‘enjoy’ the yoga session and the days I’m upset it feels like an uphill task. And the breath gets shorter. But when I let go of my thoughts/worries (consciously) and concentrate on lenghtening the breath, it works and that’s how I ultimately feel rejuvenated at the end of the session. It gets me out of my worry-zone!
Also, when we see it as a ‘task’ it becomes difficult but if we breathe longer and try to enjoy the pose while concentrating on the stretch a particular pose gives to the part of the body, it solves the purpose. It does get boring sometimes, so then I change my workout regime. For that matter, any form of workout gets boring after sometime. So, I keep changing or I take a break of 2 days in a week.
I hope it makes sense.
Cheers!March 24, 2016 at 4:27 pm #100035acaciaParticipant
I used to be the same. I felt like it should relax me, but in reality it made me stressed out because I wasn’t as flexible as the teacher, my balance was off, some poses really made my muscles burn (which made me want to stop) and my mind was rushing – figuring out how to do all those things AND focus on this present moment seemed ridiculous.
These days I practice both meditation and yoga, and my meditation practice has really helped my yoga practice in so many ways. I now see the movements as flowing with my breath and use my breath as an anchor into this present moment. I also use yoga to teach me patience and self-love and acceptance of my body – it can’t do all the amazing poses, but that’s okay. I’ve stopped pressuring myself to go so far with each pose that it’s uncomfortable, which helps me to learn patience and to drop the perfectionism. And of course, the breathing and mindfulness helps throughout the day because I’m much calmer and am reminded that the only moment we have is now. In saying that, I don’t think even the most practiced yogis are in the moment the entire practice (or day). Even Buddhist monks who’ve been practicing meditation for years say of course they get thoughts, the idea isn’t to get rid of the thoughts, it’s to watch them and let them pass without being dragged down the road by them!Now in my practice, when I remember to focus on my breath I do, but if I don’t it’s no big deal. I also have days where silencing the mind seems impossible, and days where it’s simple as anything.. and I guess that’s helped me to learn that everything is cyclical, everything is changing, nothing is the same and to let go of attachment.
So for me, all those things you mentioned that I also struggled with, those are the lessons. Those are the reasons we practice yoga. Because we all struggle with self-criticism and frustration, and loud thoughts in our head. Yoga helps to practice dealing with those.
Another tip is to try different yoga types! There’s so many a few are hatha, ashtanga, vinyasa, yin, iyengar, bikram, (and now power yoga, but IMO that’s more of a western ‘exercise’ type yoga, whereas real yoga is a philosophy and not intended as exercise for the body (more for the mind)). I love yin once a week because it’s so meditative (but not too good for me to do all the time as I get too loose in particular joints), I also love hatha as it’s more slow, but some mornings I feel like ashtanga or vinyasa as they’re a bit faster. Also try different teachers, or if you just youtube it like I do now, search around or even try a class in real life.March 28, 2016 at 2:07 pm #100298AislynnParticipant
Wow thanks everyone, that definitely helped a lot!
Anita, your very vivid descriptions really helped me visualize what it’s supposed to feel like and what I am supposed to be doing. Thank you for that. It cleared up a lot of things for me. Next time I do yoga, which should be tomorrow, I will definitely keep that in mind.
Anyone, thank you for your sharing your experience. You’re right about this, “Also, when we see it as a ‘task’ it becomes difficult but if we breathe longer and try to enjoy the pose while concentrating on the stretch a particular pose gives to the part of the body, it solves the purpose.”
Acaciarickard, “I used to be the same. I felt like it should relax me, but in reality it made me stressed out because I wasn’t as flexible as the teacher, my balance was off, some poses really made my muscles burn (which made me want to stop) and my mind was rushing – figuring out how to do all those things AND focus on this present moment seemed ridiculous.” Thank you for this. It sums up how I feel at times. At those times I really struggle with whether I should continue doing yoga or not.
“Even Buddhist monks who’ve been practicing meditation for years say of course they get thoughts, the idea isn’t to get rid of the thoughts, it’s to watch them and let them pass without being dragged down the road by them! Now in my practice, when I remember to focus on my breath I do, but if I don’t it’s no big deal. I also have days where silencing the mind seems impossible, and days where it’s simple as anything.. and I guess that’s helped me to learn that everything is cyclical, everything is changing, nothing is the same and to let go of attachment.” This really makes me feel more assured about doing yoga. I was feeling discouraged because I felt that I should be able to clear my mind of all things. I like the way you view it.
Thank you for your tips. I most definitely will try different types of yoga.April 7, 2016 at 4:14 am #101145fanbrits johnsonParticipant
Last year I was at an amazing yoga resort. They tought us that yoga is a state of mind: calm and gentle. Had so much fun. They made special classes so we all could design leotards for gymnastics and some of us got so excited that continued. Other activities were also fun and very relaxing. I’m definitely coming next timeApril 10, 2016 at 9:30 am #101438Lucy mikeParticipant
Yoga is part of life today for any oneApril 26, 2016 at 10:02 am #102785SpeharParticipant
For me yoga replaced boring physical therapy to help with hip bursitis. The spiritual part of it has recently started to settle in and I am going to explore that area further.May 19, 2016 at 10:11 pm #105114enchantraParticipant
hey..I have been practicing yoga since past five months. I haven’t been through any training program for that but I am following the blogs and videos for the same. I really feel very relxed after doing yoga.May 23, 2016 at 7:03 am #105358NorthParticipant
I am so enticed by this yoga. I have to ‘go’ to a gym, that is what I love, I don’t like any exercise alone, I do a lot of group fitness, ie/Barre, Barbell, Zumba and now getting into Yoga. I think Yoga is a great compliment both physically and mentally, but I will only do yoga at a night class to reap the full benefit. Kind of like getting a massage and then doing nothing strenuous afterward because it would ‘undo’ all the benefit. I do basic yoga, or “roots” and Yin. I would even consider it complimentary medicine to a degree. I do think yoga instructors do vary in their technique however. I wish I could do this more than once a week, but that is where I am at. The serenity of yoga is addictive but you have to be ‘ready’ to accept it. Years ago I was like you — racing to get to yoga and then the instructor would say ‘relax’ and I was like ‘how???” but now, I am at the point in my life that I can embarace it. Very interesting. There is a reason this practice has been around for centuries.June 15, 2016 at 9:57 am #107378BrieParticipant
Pretty cool reading everybody’s thoughts. I don’t know about the peaceful and mindfulness stuff with love for your body and things like that.
Yoga is a(nother) class where I can bring my A-game. When I step onto the mat, I tell myself I’m going to “crush it” (do the poses). I also get to increase my flexibility and hone my focus.
There are three things I take away from my yoga classes
1) if I lose focus, I lose balance
2) if I don’t fail, then I’m not getting any better, and
3) you can get back up no problem.
Hm, or maybe these are points I apply to yoga, therefore yoga is a medium where I can channel my beliefs.December 1, 2016 at 4:36 am #121663Kate B. ForsythParticipant
For me, Yoga is a form of exercise for my body, mind, and soul. It’s like an antidote for the pain I feel inside.December 1, 2016 at 11:20 am #121705UnconditionalPeaceParticipant
Yoga is not just an exercise; it’s a lifestyle. It means living a meditative, mindful life.
Recently, a friend told me, “I suck at yoga.” I told her there’s no such thing. Maybe we can’t do the poses exactly correctly; maybe we can’t keep our knees straight or lift our leg as high as others. But as long as it leads to a good feeling (a physical, mental, and spiritual feeling), the exercise is a success. After a hatha yoga workout, I feel both energized and relaxed at the same time. My muscles are alert, but my soul is calm. This is similar to the way I feel after a good 20-30 minutes of meditation. The yoga poses do for the body what meditation does for the mind.
Any activity that requires coordination between mind and body, or between different parts of the body, can be yoga. I’m teaching myself to play the sitar. Now that really takes coordination – sitting cross-legged, with back straight, keeping the instrument balanced while strumming with one hand and moving the other hand up and down the long neck.
Unless we’re superhuman (which may be a big “unless”), yogic activities are impossible to do perfectly. But that very impossibility is what makes them such good yoga. By doing things that are impossible, or at least very difficult, to perfect, we train ourselves not to get frustrated. And by constantly improving on them, we at least hold out the possibility of perfection. The Yoga Sutras talk about masters of yoga being able to levitate or inhabit other people’s bodies. Now if those aren’t reasons to start a yoga practice immediately, I don’t know what is.