Today on the blog we have Zaz – I met her last year at a blogging conference, and ever since (and before actually) she has inspired me from afar to start practising yoga through her words and her pictures, something I’ve always wanted to do, and for that I am very grateful. Zaz has a very successful blog called Mama and More and it’s about many things but mainly yoga, style, and inspiring words.
Read her guest blog for Style Me Sunday below:
People often tell me that they can’t do yoga because they aren’t flexible, or can’t balance on one leg.
I often wonder if they know that being flexible physically, having balance, and other qualities in yoga can also lead into other areas of your life?
Flexibility comes. If you can breathe, you can do yoga. But even breathing takes mindfulness… for some of us this comes later too…
I have been practicing yoga for almost 18 years – sometimes once a week, once a month, or once a day. Sometimes for 15 minutes, sometimes 2 hours. After delaying my dream with a host of excuses, I am now a trainee yoga teacher, completing my training this summer.
During my practice I’ve learnt that the way I approach my yoga teaches me a huge amount about myself. In fact, the way that we approach and respond to most things in life teaches us about ourselves – if we are open to it.
Many people – probably most – come to yoga initially for the physical benefits. We see the bodies of the yogis in the magazines, and hear that it’s supposed to be relaxing. What comes later is what we start taking “off the mat”.
Opening up the mind as well as the body comes with time and regular practice – in those moments of stillness, when the body is focused entirely on holding to its centre, regardless of the challenges thrown in, the mind can’t possibly think about mundane to-do lists. If we move our minds away from the constant external chatter, we have the chance to hit reset, give space for some self-realisation to occur.
Last year I began to practice every single day. I craved the mental space, the physical wringing out, and the challenge. I wanted to learn to do a handstand, and the instagram hashtag #handstand365. It’s been over 150 days, and some days I can hover for a few breaths in the centre of the garden, other days I need the comfort of the wall behind me. I’ve learnt not just how to position my body, but about how important the will to keep coming back to something is, day after day, month after month. And that sometimes you need the security of something solid behind you – whether that’s the wall in a handstand, or someone strong in your life, or a secure place to be.
What else have I taken off the mat lately?
I’ve learnt the need for balance – no kidding, this is a handstand, right?! But do I just need balance on my hands while my legs are kicking up to the sky? I need balance in my life – space and time to do each thing that needs doing, including giving time to myself. I’ve learnt that I suffer, my pose as well as my life, if I don’t have that balance.
I’ve absorbed that flexibility is a good thing – we need to be flexible in our lives, we need to be willing to accept change, and to adapt to our situations. There is no point in being frustrated at stressful situations – better to adapt to it, deal with it, find a solution, and if there isn’t one, leave it. It isn’t meant to be.
I’ve remembered the importance of strength, and the need to always build it – strong will, strong morals, strength of character, strong love for something and for someone – given and received, as well as strength in my body.
Being strong, being balanced, being flexible – these are the things that yoga teaches me, and it can teach anyone.
Most importantly perhaps, yoga, as with life, cannot be without breath.
Sometimes we don’t realize it, but we hold our breath in certain situations. Our bodies tense up, our shoulders rise towards our ears, our brows furrow. The moment we become aware of this, if we are mindful of our breath and consciously release those tensions, it starts creating small transformations, and brings ease into our lives, as well as our bodies.