How Yoga Changed My Life
Celebrating International Yoga Day
Today is International Yoga Day. It’s also the Summer Solsctice, the longest day of the year. My favourite time of year.
I guided a class on the rooftop of Brown Thomas today to celebrate the day with lululemon and Brown Thomas; and over seventy other beautiful souls who came along. The theme of the celebration was “Yoga Changed My Life”.
That statement sounds big and dramatic, almost drastic. But change doesn’t have to be big. Often the most important changes are the small subtle ones. The tiny, incremental changes that lead to big ones.
One lady at the event today told me she turned 60 last week; she said that today was her first ever yoga class. She said she’s living life to the full and trying everything she’s ever wanted to. She was buzzing. Another girl talked about the feeling of community she gets from going to yoga classes. The connection to other people. Two girls who came to the class together said they’ve bonded through yoga after bumping into each other at WellFest earlier in the Summer.
Yoga for me brings small incremental changes into my life everyday; and together they have made up the big changes in my life. A change with the way I connect with myself and others; a change in the way I see the world. A change in what I work as and a change in the way that I live my life.
While working as a solicitor I found yoga. I started to practice weekly and then daily. It taught me how to sit still and how to be quiet. To stop thinking, worrying and questioning. At the peak of my confusion and feeling dissatisfied with my career, I started a ritual at the end of my yoga practice. After lying in Savasana, when I sat cross-legged in a moment of meditation before closing the practice, I would place my hands over my heart and say silently “I am listening. Tell me what you want me to do”.
I didn’t hear a voice, or a choir of angels. And I didn’t receive some divine intervention. What I did get was a practice and a ritual that allowed me to get past my mind. That allowed me to be still and quiet and to listen to my internal voice. That voice of knowing, the inner compass. Our intuition.
There’s a beautiful quote by Rumi:
“Let yourself by silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray”.
My yoga practice allowed me to be still and quiet so that I could hear and feel that pull. The pull to leave my job to go in search of something else.
And yoga continues to do this for me. When I feel lost or unsure of what to do next or what to plan. I ask my inner knowing. I try not to ask a direct question with a yes or no answer. And I avoid asking the question out loud, or in public, for now. Instead I try ask an open ended question; silently at the end of my practice, I ask “where do you want me to go?”, “what do you want me to do?”. And then I sit and I am quiet. I practice this over days or months until the next step reveals itself.
Admittedly, this is not always as serene as it sounds. The over-thinking and over-analysing mind still makes various and intermittent guest appearances in my life. It can be frustrating trying to work things out. And it’s hard to know if you are doing the right thing, in the right job, in the right place, with the right person or at the right stage of your life. And when you’re frustrated and confused this is the hardest time to sit and listen. This is where the yoga practice can save the day.
By twisting and bending the body in yoga postures, we still the mind. And when the mind is still we can connect to our inner knowing. We can begin to listen and to trust our gut, our intuition and our instinct. Whatever you want to call it. Trust that there is a force within us, bigger than our mind, that is guiding us.
Yoga has helped me to let go of mind control, to go with the flow, to sit and listen and let myself be silently drawn by the pull of what I love.