Mindful Stretching - How Yoga has taught me Peace in Stillness
I've always hated Yoga.
Yep. You read it right, for the longest time my sister (now a Yoga Teacher) has been trying to get me doing yoga knowing how it will benefit me in all the exercises/sports that I do, and for all the right reasons that I really should do yoga, just like how yoga had benefited her in so many ways. But nope, I still dread it EVERY, SINGLE, TIME. It's just.......... Boring. (Whose with me on this!)
Every hour of yoga class that I force myself to felt like eternity. Half an hour felt like half of my life. Man, the stretch poses are awfully painful as well. (Cries. Yes I do know my limbs are really tight hence I should stretch more :/ ) The worst part of the class was when your instructor starts counting 1-10 and they counts them so SSSSLLLLLOOOOOOWWWWWWWLLLLYYYYYY while you're holding on to a certain pose.
Hmmm, can someone just throw a yogi block at them pretty please? Just kidding :D
So, this is my eldest sis, Kim - the one who forced me to go yoga, also inspired me to do more yoga ;)
Click on the photo above to read how yoga has transformed my sister's life :)
I never once doubted the benefits of yoga and the advantages of practicing them. I know I should do it, especially as a personal trainer I know that stretching does so much goodness for our body. I just couldn't, for some reason, stay still for too long. However, in this past 2 months I wasn't able to do what I love most - Running. I discovered a new love in doing rehabilitation work(something I hated the most!), stretching (#2 most hated thing to me) and simply listening to what my body feels, allowing it to move as it should be, as how it can for the day. Most of the time I do have a training plan in mind, like what exercises I want to do for the next few days, which body part that I would like to train, how much time I have to workout, how easy/hard it will be, and the list go on and on, oh well you get a gist of it. But some days, my body just gets so sore and beaten up from the workouts that I put my body through that I really dread going for a training session.
If you were to ask me in the past, I would still go for my training session despite the horrible soreness, thinking that I can and will push pass the pain. It was as if putting my body through pain is the only way of getting stronger. "Rest is for the weak," I tell myself. Or rather, my ego was speaking.
I WAS SO WRONG. So damn wrong.
#1 Sometimes rest is what your body needs to get stronger.
The time off from running (also I had no choice) actually taught me that my body badly needed this break to recuperate, that there are many areas in my body that I can and should work on in order for it to function at it should be. There are so many areas I've neglected on because I failed to acknowledge and listen to how my body speaks. I blindly followed my own training plan, treating my body like a robot, without factoring all the other issues that my body has been highlighting to me throughout.
This time, instead of being all frustrated for not being able to run, I've decided to slow down and listen to how my body feels for today. There are days that I've planned to go for a swim, yet I know my body is too sore for it. For once, I laid out my mat and did some yoga poses that I've learnt over the time when I unwillingly drag myself to yoga classes that I accompanied my sister to. I must say, the poses ARE STILL PAINFUL, yet it gets better and better with each breath I took.
#2 Do it with all you have, or don't do it at all
Mindfulness. Being present. Something that I've never understood in the past. But now I do. I've used to go for yoga classes being present physically yet my mind was elsewhere, or everywhere else except in the studio. This time round, I practice something different. I listened to how my breath breathes in and out, allowing my body to sink in a little deeper with each breath, letting my mind flow like calming waves, allowing my body to fall into the right places as it should be. It felt like my aching body was healing by itself bit by bit, as blood flows swiftly through my veins and into my aching muscles, rejuvenating the soreness as the tightness slowly evaporates, leaving me with a light body and a pretty uplifting spirits 20mins after. You'll come to a space where you're just filled with grace, gratitude and love. A peaceful, calming feeling. Life is good, God is good.
#3 Be Still, & Know
Find joy in chaos, peace in storms and beauty in simplicity. We live in a world that is constantly spinning so quickly, that more often than not it takes our breath away so many times a day. We forgot how is it like to be still for a moment, we forgot how it is like to have some time on our own. In yoga, I get lost in my breaths, my self love, my stillness, my peacefulness that embodies me. Every time I lay my mat at my balcony, that is directly above a cross road junction, yet I hear nothing but the sound of the clouds. This zone, is a place where you reconnect with your truest self, an inner peace that no one can take it away from you, as your mind clears and fills up with all the beautiful moments you live for, you'll start to inhale all the courage, and exhale all the fears.
That being said, I am still one of the stiffest student in the yoga class. I am no yogi to begin with, but I do what I can, I try my best, I don't give up, as I continue to learn more about my body, no matter how inflexible I am to begin with, I know at the end of the day it is I who write my own journey, as I hope you will too. <3
Here are my 3 favourite yoga stretches that I do often. Clearly I don't get my poses 100% right, so feel free to comment me on how I can improve it! But I'm putting it out here so that you know you don't have to be flexible to start with, everybody starts somewhere. Don't feel intimidated, just be you and you'll be fine!
#1 Child Pose
#2 Pigeon Pose
#3 Lizard Pose
If you are interested to know more about yoga from my sister Kim, here's the link to her yoga classes and her journey! http://classicyoga.sg
Till then, eat well, move well, and stretch well. Live a life worth fighting for.
All the love,