I am now commencing the fourth year of Hatha Yoga at Yoga Life. Time flies. I cannot begin to mention the benefits yoga has had on my body and my mind. I was not new to yoga when I first started there but I realized immediately that YogaLife was going to affect my attitude to life in a positive way. After 3 full years, I can now feel the long term impact of yoga on my health compared to the short term results I had experienced earlier. Yoga Life is not just a place you go to relax or exercise or find temporary relief from the trials and tribulations of life. First of all, it comprises a small community of people who want more than that. Secondly, Korina our instructor and founder is not just passionate about what she does but is also eager to share her knowledge about the whole (‘wholistic’) yoga experience, the benefits to the body, the mind and soul of every asana, pranayama or visualization. Furthermore, it’s a place which promotes an awareness of the environment, the need to change certain habits that were taken for granted and had a negative impact on the environment and on society, and contributes to improving preconceived ideas of the way we eat, who we are and so much more.
Some of the exercises seem deceptively easy, but the effects are amazing even though you are not immediately aware of them. At some point you suddenly realise that those persistent headaches you had have stopped, that the pain in your knuckles are not there anymore, that all of a sudden you are more flexible than you were 10 years ago, that your back still might have its bad days but is no way as painful as it once was, that things that bothered you are not so important any more, that you are calmer than you have ever been.
There are of course the more difficult or challenging exercises where you feel at the outset you will never manage to do, especially the balancing exercises. Personally I had a problem coordinating correct movements with effective breathing. I also had a problem with a specific exercise where I had to lean forward to do upper level breathing. I would start coughing within seconds, often feeling my lungs were being crushed, especially with the shoulder stands. In the first year, when we had to visualize different things in the last part of our session with our eyes closed, I would often open one eye discreetly to check what the other were doing just to confirm that I was doing it right. And yes, I would sometimes fall asleep either because I was too tired or too relaxed! Not any more though.
Now at the beginning of my fourth year I have realized the importance of persistence. I remember Korina telling me and others in similar situations not to worry and to just do as much as we could without straining and causing injury to our bodies. She was never perturbed by my coughing. She knew that it would slowly disappear with time and effort. My ability to do sun salutations while breathing correctly has improved immensely too! I do not have to think so much, it is all coming more naturally. I now realise that year by year the exercises are becoming more and more effective. So glad I never gave up. Practice really does make perfect. As Aristotle once said: ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit’.
image credit : https://fupping.com/snax_item/repetition-is-key/