Yoga for me is a spiritual journey, but more of that in a future post.
Yoga is far more than exercise. It gives me an immense feeling of wellbeing and this is why I have a daily yoga practice, attend two classes a week and a monthly workshop. What is it about yoga that has gripped me and held my attention ever since the first class I attended in 2009? To help illuminate the reasons why I am so dedicated, here is a little bit of history.
I have consistently, since childhood practised sport; I played all the sports available to me at school and was in the school netball and badminton teams. As a young adult I played many other sports; hockey, volleyball, squash, tennis and table tennis. In my thirties I swam regularly, cycled (on and off road), did aerobics, circuit training and dabbled in running. I even took up scuba diving, clocking up over 40 dives in my log book. Then in my late thirties, I joined a running club.
I became obsessed with running. I improved, I entered races and became competitive. I discovered I was very good at endurance running. The longer the distance, the higher the endorphins took me. The feelings were euphoric. I was hooked and the running community became a significant part of my life, but I lost any sense of balance. Running was the only sport I was serious about and committed to. I still cycled occasionally and walked but running was my focus. I became obsessed about beating my times and targeted completing ten marathons. I fell short by one.
All of this running was to be to my detriment.
I have a vivid memory of my mother wagging her finger at me saying I would regret all the running in later life. She was right. In 2009 I began to have severe pain around my right hip, buttock and groin. Investigations revealed I had arthritis in the hip joint. My consultant said ‘if you don’t stop running, you will need a hip replacement within 3-5 years’.
Ten years later, have I needed to have a hip replacement? No. Have I stopped running? I still jog, does that count?! Have I stopped being obsessive about running? Yes. Am I still a member of a running club? No. Have I found a balance in the physical activities I take part in? Yes. What was the one thing that has benefitted me? Yoga. Do I believe practising yoga has kept my arthritis in check, prevented it from worsening and improved the overall mobility, strength and flexibility of my hip and my whole body? Yes. Do I believe if I had continued running and not discovered yoga I would have needed surgery or if not surgery, been in a lot of pain and discomfort? Yes.
So, what is it about yoga? Why am I a yogi?
Quite simply I believe I practise yoga for the benefit and health of my whole being — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The World Health Organisation defines a healthy body as “complete physical and mental well-being.” Notice, there is no mention of fitness. All my life I have taken part in sport to keep fit, but by keeping fit I neglected the other parts of me and have suffered as a consequence. Practising yoga, I can look after and take care of all parts of me.
This is how:
Physical – Yoga postures strengthen and stretch my muscles, eases my joints and keeps them flexible. Yoga flow or vinyasa develops my stamina. The three S’s — suppleness, strength and stamina.
Mental – Yoga requires concentration, to move in and out of postures, synchronising and using the breath. I am learning how to still the mind with breath and meditation techniques.
Emotional – Emotions arise from thoughts. Yoga teaches me to begin to observe and control my thoughts thereby keeping in check my emotions.
How does this relate to my writing?
Like yoga, my writing has become part of who I am and what I enjoy doing. Like yoga, my writing is a daily practice and benefits aspects of my being. Both help me live a fulfilling life.
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