New Year‒New Chapter–The Year of the Yogi!?
“Yoga is a mirror to look at ourselves from within.” –B.K.S. Iyengar
“Real growth begins at the end of your comfort zone.” —Thomas Oppong
Liz Pearl @PK Press
Please note: the image featured at the top of the post in not me; however, the images at the bottom are indeed me—enjoying various awesome vistas and my signature poses.
It seems that yoga, meditation and mindfulness are taking over the world. Maybe not the entire world, but certainly social media and blogs and new apps and boutique studios are popping up every other day. It’s fair to say, yoga is currently mainstream, if not trendy. Mantras and affirmations are posted everywhere. I have discovered that yoga is many things to many people; for some it’s a tribe, a community, a lifestyle, and for others, it’s one more thing in an expanding toolkit in the pursuit of wellness.
So, I figured I’d make a concerted effort to include yoga and mindfulness into my wellness lifestyle regime for 2019; after all, these practices have been around for ages.
I’ve had a firm belief and practice of stretching for decades, so I naively believed the transition to yoga would be relatively smooth. Of course being somewhat into dance and trending fitness practices for as long as I can remember; I’ve actually tried yoga classes a few times over the years. I’d say I’ve dabbled in yoga but am certainly not a dedicated yogi. I have every reason to believe it’s valuable and productive, and yet, I just haven’t gotten into it; either I get bored or distracted. I am not overly endowed with discipline and I’m not keen on following sequential directions.
For 2019‒I resolved to rededicate myself to yoga and mindfulness, certainly all of the research and trending wellness social media point in that direction.
Definitely, yoga is about connection—interpersonal and intrapersonal. I’m all about holistic practice and exploring the Mind-Body-Soul connection. Yoga is a journey inward—looking within, to find my place and my purpose, within the bigger picture. Existential questions.
I very much appreciate the focus on stretch and strength, balance, posture, alignment, stability, harmony, the emphasis on breathing and the many invigorating poses. I’m convinced breathing is at the core of any holistic wellness practice.
To be honest, I can’t really get into the blocks, blankets, cushions, straps and all of the props and paraphernalia, they seem somewhat unnatural and definitely consumer focused. I wonder, why does every fad need to be reinvented with brand-named marketing ad infinitum? I’m more of a back-to-basics type. I tend to think a simple mat and towel are adequate for most workouts.
Sometimes, the best part of yoga class is the refreshing beverage—cool water infused with cleansing lemon wedges, tart ginger root or a sprig of mint.
Or the perfect Insta post—moment.
I love the beauty and awe of the natural world. Sun, Moon. Earth. Mountains. Rivers. Lakes. Oceans. Valleys. Trees. Flowers. (The sacred Lotus flower is truly beautiful, and a wonderful visual image for yoga—grounded and balanced.) And I am inspired to strengthen and stretch my (stiffening middle-aged) body in the glory of the natural elements. Yoga and the appreciation of the natural elements seem so well paired. In fact, at times I suppose this is as close as I can get to a spirituality to call my own.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Rejuvenate. Recharge.
Like many of us, I love the slogans printed on the Lulu Lemon bags. These catchy mantras are cliché and they continue to resonate: “friends are more important than money”, “creativity is maximized when you are living in the moment”, “breathe deeply”, “dance, sing, (floss) and travel” etcetera… They speak to me, as they speak to many of us. And yet, I still have a tough time on my yoga mat. (Yes, I purchased one at Costco’s). No uber-specialized high-end props, just the basics.
I love that yoga is inclusive. Yoga is potentially, for everyone: all genders, all ages and all abilities. And all body types! Yoga is adaptive and accessible to a range of special needs. Gentle Yoga is a practice modified for limited mobility. Yoga offers a philosophy and a template for a practice that may be either customized or diversified, as needed. Yoga is suitable for singles, couples, families, small groups and large gatherings.
Yoga is a versatile healing practice and can be therapeutic, restorative or rehabilitative for many physiological and or psychological conditions, such as: arthritis, inflammation, insomnia, chronic pain, anxiety, mild depression, trauma and PTSD. The list goes on.
(Yoga is typically recommended as an adjunctive practice, not a primary therapeutic intervention; however, it’s healing potential should not be understated.)
There are a plethora of basic and specialized yoga techniques of all levels and styles. (Restorative sounds pretty good to me.) New yoga hybrids are emerging all the time. Yoga can be integrated with so many forms of fitness, creative arts and alternative practices. Yoga practice can range from recreational and fun to an intensive discipline. Yoga can be practiced at home, in a studio, on vacation or at attractive retreat locations. It’s a traditional practice with many contemporary and progressive twists. Yoga is constantly being reinvented. Yoga is an innovative blend of old and new—East meets West.
My favourite pose is the Dancer Pose, and I’m hoping to increase my current repertoire of basic yoga asana poses (Sun Salutation, Warrior, Downward Dog and Lotus). Certainly, I am intrigued and challenged by the variety and complexity of the more advanced poses.
On the mat we are guided along… Quieting my mind and focusing on my breath alone, sometimes my inner voice whispers: “this is silly, go outside for a walk in the fresh air or the forest or the ravine!” or “watch the sunrise or sunset and strike a pose!” Often, it is challenging to stick to the task at hand.
Sometimes, we need to keep it simple, get back to the basics. Unplug and reboot. And sometimes, we need some added support, or added structure—something new. The journey of discovery is often an ebb and flow.
But hey, it’s only the end of January so I’m not yet abandoning my resolution for 2019–to stretch out of my comfort zone and become an amateur yogi. I’m just not drawn to the mat‒yet. February And Match are new months; perhaps I will download a trending meditation app: Calm, Headspace, MINDBODY…I can’t help but wonder, do we really need apps and workshops and coaches to just slow down, breathe, and literally—be in the moment? Or can we not just simply get back to nature: take a walk, breathe fresh air, reach for the sky, plant our feet on the ground, or enjoy a cup of calming chamomile tea and cherish the seasonal view outside the window.
For now, I think perhaps I am either a yogi-wannabe, or possibly a “do as I please” Rogue Yogi.
It’s a new year, a new chapter, and the hope for calming my inner voice and searching for Zen and wisdom continue. I guess I need to cultivate my yin-yang harmony. In the meantime, I will continue the yoga-quest. It might be time to delve a little deeper into Aryuveda—ancient holistic healing including herbs, roots and teas. I’m experimenting with some essential oils. Calming, and refreshing and soothing.
April Update: I’m so excited about Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s (chief medical correspondent for CNN) recent episode of Chasing Life—filmed in India. This timely documentary combines evidence-based research, dynamic interviews and global travel experiences; and I love that Yoga—as a wellness practice integrated into daily lifestyle is thoroughly endorsed, by a highly esteemed American medical advisor. This well-produced documentary series demonstrates the viability and success of how East meets West, in terms of health, aging and wellness. The momentum is building and our knowledge is deepening.
Although yoga is indeed a challenge, it’s also reassuring to add another practice to my ever-expanding health and wellness portfolio.
What’s your yoga flow?
Do you have a magic mantra?
Do yo have a favourite yogini?