When I was eight years old, my elementary school teacher complained to my older brother that I always forgot what she taught me in school. The teacher thought I had some kind of learning disability. She asked my brother to take me to the doctor. The doctor suggested my family to enroll me in yoga class as a way to teach me about discipline and focus. Personally, I didn’t like yoga at that time. I thought yoga was boring and extremely painful. My body was incredibly inflexible and rigid; I wasn’t able to do any of the asanas. My body would have aches and pains after every class. I told my older brother I wouldn’t go to yoga class anymore, but he kept insisting that I continue. I had no choice. I went to class every day, but never focused in class because yoga just simply wasn’t that enjoyable to me.
All of my classmates would laugh at me when I would fail to master the asanas that everyone else could do with such ease. I started getting tired of being teased and made fun of, so I took their words as a challenge. I told them that one day, I too, would be able to do everything they could do. I started to focus and take my practice seriously. Within a couple of years, I was able to do almost all of the postures my classmates could do. This was a turning point. I had acquired self-confidence and learned that through focus and determination, the mind could overcome any obstacle, no matter how out-of-reach it seemed. As my practice deepened, I started to see changes in myself, both physically and mentally, thus I became more interested in the philosophy behind yoga.
The teachings of yoga have helped me get through some very tough situations. There have been many events in my life that have thrown me out of balance and challenged me. But throughout all of it, yoga has been the one and only grounding and stable thing in my life. No matter where I am or who I’m with, coming back to my yoga practice always gives me a sense of security, like the feeling of home.
For me, like many others, yoga started purely as a physical practice. As my body started to purify and reap the physical benefits of yoga, my mind also started to become clearer and more focused. I started to take what I was learning on my yoga mat, off the mat. This is something I hope all yogis learn to do.
I hope that everyone challenges themselves, like I did. The times where you feel like you can’t hold an asana any longer, focus your mind back on the breath and hold it for just one breath longer. This builds determination. The times where you feel like your body is just so tight you want to give up, send your breath to those tight places. Come back to this asana every day and know that your muscles will loosen in time. This builds patience. The times where you feel like an asana is simply impossible to achieve, focus on positive thoughts and believe that nothing is impossible. This builds focus and power of the mind. The times that you fear trying something new, try to let go of that fear. Sometimes letting go of a fear is the only way new growth will happen. Every day is different. Learning to accept how you are each day allows you to remain in the present. As you build determination, patience, and focus, you start to see and apply these skills outside of the asana practice. This new-found determination will help you achieve goals you have set in your life. The focus and strength will help you stay positive and focused on the present. The patience will help you deal with irritating and stressful situations in a more calm and collected way. After all, when you have patience with yourself, only then are you able to have patience with others. These are just some of the gifts yoga will bless you with.
I encourage everyone to live yoga. As your physical practice deepens, I hope you start to apply some of the things you learn from the asanas into your daily life. After all, yoga is a way of life. I feel blessed to be apart of this community at Space and look forward to growing as both a teacher and student with everyone here.