My yoga journey didn’t start until I was really ready.
I started practicing yoga seriously about a year and half ago, but that certainly was not my first encounter with yoga. I think the very first time I tried yoga was during a summer break right after college graduation. Back then, yoga was still a pretty new thing in Japan, and there were not so many yoga studios like today, so I just bought one of those how-to books with a DVD on yoga and practiced at home.
After that first encounter, I took yoga classes at a gym or studio on and off for many years. Usually, I would take a class on a weekend for few months then stop going when work got busy or I was occupied with some other things. Even when I was living in India for 2 years, I only took 3 or 4 classes total!
It’s partly because of my past history of this on-and-off relationship with yoga that I believe yoga is NOT meant to be an exercise routine. If exercise is the main purpose, yoga doesn’t fare well like other exercise routines, say going to the gym, playing tennis or swimming, in terms of the physical impact it can have (OK, it does depend on what type of yoga but I’ll save that for some other post…). I like to get regular exercise, so I thought about how much calories I can burn by going to a one hour yoga class as opposed to one hour at a gym and chose gym which seemed to be a wiser way to spend my precious weekend time.
That being said, it’s also true that I didn’t start practicing yoga seriously for a mental or spiritual reason. I’ve heard and read stories of people who experienced overwhelming emotions in a yoga class and started crying then got really into yoga. Well, my experience was not nearly as dramatic or emotional.
I took a 2 week vacation at an Ayurvedic resort in Sri Lanka and started going to the early-morning yoga class because I had nothing better to do. To be honest, the class wasn’t particularly good – the teacher wasn’t very experienced or skilled so in the beginning I wondered if I should keep going at all. But I kept going simply because I really had nothing better to do!
After 1 week though, something started to change in me. It could have been the Ayurvedic massage I was getting everyday, healthy vegetarian meal 3 times a day, quiet environment with limited Internet access, waking up every morning at 5:30am or a combination of all those, but somehow something started to change.
I felt more connected with my body and felt ready to try poses that I could only dream to do, like headstand. It wasn’t really about the physical condition that made me feel that way, but I just felt calm and confident enough to face the fear and feeling of uncertainty.
Since then, I’ve been practicing yoga daily, and it’s really been a journey of self-discovery. I’ve re-acquainted with my own self on a physical, mental and emotional level through the daily practice. What I’ve learned in a tiny little space on the mat has extended far beyond and captured my life.
Sometimes I wish I had started my practice at an earlier age but again, I believe that yoga comes knocking on your door only when you are really ready to receive it. I’m just happy that it happened to me and I’m now on my yoga journey:)