Yoga is about taking time to be still. Time to listen more deeply to the innate wisdom held within the body, heart and mind.
In this busy distracted world, we so often miss the intuitive queues of the body, heart and mind. Intuition is something to be listened to. It’s not wishy washy or out there. The best, most authentic leaders in the world use their gut instinct, along with the knowledge and information they have about a particular thing, to make some of the biggest decisions. Decisions based purely on facts and figures, with no human element of intuition, often turn out not to be the best decisions for the good of this precious world.
Taking note of a pang of nausea, and an electrical current as it races to your muscles might save you from setting out in front of a car you didn’t see or hear coming. Ignored, either deliberately or because you find yourself so caught up in distraction, perhaps as you walk and talk on the phone or are completely engrossed in thought about the past or the future, could well result in disaster. A sense that you need to take a particular action, this gut instinct to go one way ignored, could result in an action you later regret.
The messages of the body, heart and mind listened to and honored, open space for clearer, more wholesome decisions.
Yoga has been part of my world for more than 20 years, and as I approach 50, I can say without hesitation that the practices of Yoga and a steady deep Meditation practice, continue to reap positive benefits in all aspects of my life. I like to think both practices, intrinsically linked, help me to make wiser, more wholesome decisions than perhaps I would have if Yoga and Mindfulness were not part of the fabric of my life.
One of the most important aspects of Yoga and Mindfulness for me has been in choosing the right teachers. And so, if you are new to Yoga, just beginning to explore the possibility of tuning into the wisdom of your body, heart and mind, here are a few tips:
1. In the modern world it may seem that Yoga is all about the pictures of bodies you see contorted into what look like unattainable postures. And I can assure you many of those ‘sexy, eye’ catching postures are unattainable for the masses. The good news is, this is not what Yoga is about. Yoga is about working with the capacity of your own body, learning to tune into its wisdom in letting you know what’s right or not for you in any given moment.
2. In choosing a teacher, use your innate wisdom. If something doesn’t feel right about a teachers style, way of teaching or your gut tells you something is not safe or right about them, you are free to choose another. You really want to find a teacher who skillfully takes into account any preexisting injuries, instabilities in the body or illness that you may have.
There are literally thousands of Yoga teachers out in the world now, this was not the case historically. So for a consumer of Yoga, it’s really important to be discerning in choosing a teacher or teachers who are right for your body, heart and mind, and with whom you feel safe. Unfortunately, the position of power accorded to some Yoga teachers and gurus have been abused by them, resulting in devastating outcomes for those on the receiving end of this despicable behavior. So please be aware and don’t be afraid to walk away from any Yoga teacher, no matter how much credibility they seem to have, if something feels off about them.
3. As you begin your Yoga journey, tap into some of the , which are equally relevant to Yoga. Below I have described each in terms of how to bring them to turning your mind inward, in the practice of Yoga:
Beginners Mind – bring an openness and genuine curiosity to learning the art of yoga.
Non-Judgment – allow the harsh inner critic to take a rest. Refrain from judging and comparing how you look and measure up to others in your class or against your own yard stick.
Non-Striving – approach each class with no agenda for a particular outcome, but rather with an openness to experience what moving and tuning into your body offers from moment to moment.
Patience – know that things will unfold and your body and mind will respond to the practice in their own time.
Letting Go – leave preconceptions about what Yoga should be at the door and let go of striving, judgment, impatience…
Acceptance – allow your body, heart and mind to be just as you find them from moment to moment.
Trust – the wisdom of your own body, heart and mind and listen deeply to the queues they give you.
Kindness/Compassion – befriend yourself, however you show up on the day. Being kind and compassionate towards your body and mind.
4. Commit to a regular Yoga practice. It takes time to create new habits and for the benefits of Yoga to begin to permeate into other areas of your life. Once you have found a teacher with whom you are comfortable and feel safe and supported, commit to an 8 week block of classes to embed this new habit into your life. Know, if you fall off the Yoga trail, you can always begin again when you are ready.
5. Most of all, enjoy the benefits this ancient practice can offer.
Twenty plus years into my own Yoga journey, I am still learning from some very wise and deeply genuine Yoga teachers. One who will turn 80 this year and another in her early 40’s. On reflection, there have been just 3 Yoga teachers over the years with whom I've had a deep resonance and trust, but many more deeply authentic meditation/mindfulness teachers. Teachers with deep wisdom, who come from the eastern traditions and a few from the west. Like the tips above, it took me time to find those teachers who where right for me and likewise it may take time for you to find yours.
My philosophy on life is “each moment of this precious life is a moment in which we can learn and grow, so long as we are curious and open to seeing everything with fresh, yet discerning, eyes.”
Wishing you luck on your Yoga journey.
May you step gently on this precious earth, as you navigate your way through this one very precious life!
Written by Karen Haddon: Mum of two teenage girls who love their pets, Marshmallow the Pomeranian x Maltese dog and Spice the ginger kitten, both of whom love to practice yoga and meditation with Karen (the pets, not so much the teens).
Formally qualified to teach various internationally recognised Mindfulness Based Programs, including the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) and MBSR for Teens, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Mindful Schools Curriculum and Mindfulness in Schools Project .B (MiSP.B), as well as Circle of Security Parenting.