In 2018, I became a yoga teacher. Markus and I actually did our 200 hr yoga teacher training course together in Rishikesh, India. Needless to say, it was life- and relationship-changing. We use what we learned to further create our thriving life together and also share with others.
I practice yoga every day and know that I am first a yoga student. The learning never ends. This is the fun bit of it! And for other yogis, below is what I can share today, from one yoga teacher and student to another.
1. Yoga will not magically solve all your problems.
I wish it would. Unfortunately, yoga will not improve our dick of a colleague, resolve our childhood traumas, or fill the void inside our chests. These will continue to exist and cause daily irritation or anxiety. What yoga gives us though is clarity, calm, humility, and patience to deal with our problems right at the core.
2. Yoga is more beneficial when we make it our own.
Modifying postures is not a sign of weakness but a pillar of body awareness and intelligence. Sure, the ideal forward fold has our belly resting on straight legs, but if our body is not available today, we bend our knees to open the posterior leg muscles and benefit from the posture more.
In our yoga practice, we use the postures to access the body and not the other way around. Yoga yields more benefits when we make the shapes our own. It also feels a lot better.
Each posture is unique for every yogi. As long as we are using the right muscles, we are doing the same pose even if it hardly looks like the shape of the teacher or the yogi on the next mat.
3. Yoga is a flow.
I used to be really rigid with my early practice. Now I have tremendous appreciation for fluidity, freedom of movement, body curiosity – almost a playful approach to yoga. This mindset allows me to meet my body where it is at today and laugh more when I wobble and fall. Then, I was so concerned with ‘doing it right’ and ‘advancing’. Now my daily practice is dedicated to healing my body and finding space, no matter how that looks like.
4. Yoga practice builds mindfulness, but not that mindfulness.
Since the ancient times, yoga has been intertwined with spirituality and rituals. We all believe what we need to believe, of course. But first, yoga is a practice that builds our attention muscle, a simple tool that helps in being more present and connected with the breath and body.
One of my yoga teachers in Rishikesh said, “I know you like to think of the Universe, spirituality, and all that higher stuff, but just focus on the now, do the postures, and breathe.” For the most part, yoga has enormous practical benefits that do not have to involve anything mystical or airy-fairy.
5. Yoga postures are created equal.
I hesitated signing-up for my yoga teacher training course because I could not do a headstand. Not that it was a requirement, but I just thought I needed to do advance postures to become a teacher. I laugh about it now. All postures are created equal.
Further, the more I practice, the more I see the importance of basic postures. They open the body and build the foundation for advanced poses. Doing it the other way around sets the body back and hurts it in the process.
Basic postures have the added advantage of allowing us to relax fully. This is where we benefit from a pose. We can easily find our edge, focus on the breathe, and encourage the body to open up.
Instead, we tend to perform advanced postures. It gets worse when we force the body to achieve them. Remember, yoga is not about the shapes we can do but about the shape of our lives.
6. Yoga retreats are life-changing.
There is magic when people on the same wave length meet and spend meaningful days together. Pre-pandemic, Markus and I facilitated wellness retreats focused on mindfulness and empowerment.
Naturally, we practiced yoga daily and other activities that help us to connect with life – ourselves, the people around us, the beautiful island of Bali, and the local communities. The feedback we receive is always humbling and we cannot be happier for our participants who made progress by simply giving themselves space.
Sometimes, all we need to pull ourselves together and start creating our thriving life is a pause, a breathe, and people that support and accept us unconditionally. Now, that is magic.