7 Ways Yoga Made My Life Better

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1. I found a job I actually love.
Money or no money, I love teaching yoga. Yes. I am a teacher. I claim it. Being a yoga teacher gives me the emotional fulfillment of watching someone grow and learn, but without the hassles of grading papers. 😉 Teaching is also a wonderful learning process. Every once in a while, people notice the methodology and I am met with compliments or criticism. Either way, I learn which methods are effective and I find out on which areas I need to improve. I learn, I earn, and I am thankful. Being a yoga teacher, I always try to be mindful of my words and actions. I try (not always successfully) to adhere to yogic principles of Yama and I always hope in my heart that my students do the same.

2. I no longer slouch (sometimes).
Yoga improves the posture. That’s inarguable. In fact, one of the eight limbs of yoga is asana, which literally means ‘posture’ in Sanskrit. Since I started practicing asanas, I’ve engaged muscles I never even knew existed. “Sthira sukham asanam” – asanas are steady and comfortable. And somehow, a level of comfort resonates in me when I do certain postures. I’ve heard my teachers (and myself) say “lengthen your spine”, “widen your shoulders”, and “open your chest” more times than any other phrase in the world that these words have already been implanted in my subconscious. And what the mind says, the body follows. That’s why yoga is so effective. It doesn’t just give your body a work-out, it gives your mind a work-in too.

3. I have established a deeper connection with myself.
One of my favorite things that my teacher says is, “Make a conscious effort to [insert specific verb of action here]…” Yoga is also about awakening your consciousness in a whole deeper level, and that usually starts with the breath. I notice that when my teacher says “close your eyes, take deep breaths, acknowledge your emotions, and let them go”, and if I do exactly that, that’s when my mind becomes hyperactive. That’s when I come to realizations about the way I’ve been living my life, treating others, treating myself. Those are the moments I’m grateful for. Those few moments before I let my thoughts go give me a chance to think about wanting to become a better person.

4. I make a conscious effort to take things in moderation.
Should I eat this cake? Probably not but I can take a few bites. Am I allowed to have wine? Of course. A glass or two would suffice. I don’t necessarily have to deprive myself just because I practice yoga. But it is very important that I become conscious of my habits before I can even indulge. Can I do Bakasana (Crow Pose) 10 times in a row? No, that’s how people rip their shoulders. Maybe try 2-3 times and then rest.

5. My patience has tremendously increased.
The thing about yoga asanas is that more often than not, they are very awkward to execute in the beginning. You have to deal with your limbs flaying out or bent in a way that doesn’t really give comfort if you’re a beginner. But these moments of discomfort have been my defining moments. Whether it was holding a Warrior 2 for over a minute daily, or slowly working my way towards a wall-less Headstand for nearly two years now, or painstaikingly engaging my core so my Crow can take flight, something in the awkwardness has changed me. Now I can (try to) breathe into the discomfort and know with mild certainty that my mind will not give in to the stress. And when your mind is calm and clear, you can handle anything with grace even under pressure.

6. I have forgiven those who wronged me.
I forgive the security guard who won’t let me park in front of his establishment (even though easement is public property and anyone is legally allowed to park there), because he is only doing his job. I forgive my friend who ditched me when I needed her most, because I’m not the only person in her life and I should be fine with that. I forgive the girl who stole my ex-boyfriend, because I’m also thankful that she did. I forgive the boy who broke my heart, because then I learned what to look for in a partner. I forgive the guy who commented offensive things about rape and sexism, and pray that violent things don’t happen to his sister or daughter. I forgive the girl who talks about me behind my back, or the guy who thinks I’m full of shit. Life is too short to be angry all the time. As the cliché goes: “You’re in my life for a reason – either you’re a blessing or a lesson.” I hope everyone extends the same understanding, or at least tolerance, for people who have different cirumstances and views in life.

7. I have forgiven myself for being human.
It is an unfortunate inevitability that humans are inclined to err. And this is something I accept about myself now. I won’t go so far as to say that I purposefully make mistakes, but I have allowed myself that certain margin of error wherein I can just let things pass and not give myself shit for days on end.


Join us for yoga classes at Bodhi Yoga Center GenSan! And check out our upcoming yoga teacher training courses.


Life After Rishikesh

 

Taking all the energy I can so I can share the vibes at home

Taking all the energy I can so I can share the vibes at home

It’s easy to tell yourself (and others) that you have found inner peace when you live in a world where people literally seek the same thing as you. When you find yourself in the company of people who radiate certain positive energies, the vibrations tend to rub on you too. When the strangers you meet on the street smile at you for no other reason than to greet you “Namaste!”, those smiles become infectious. You hold those smiles in your heart for as long as you can, knowing you won’t meet strangers as jolly and friendly as they are anywhere else in the world.

Vinyasa Yoga School batch October 2014

Vinyasa Yoga School batch October 2014

When you meet authentic yogis – not those who merely practice asanas, post yoga selfies on social media and proclaim themselves “yogis” (yep, I’m guilty), but those who actually seek to become higher versions of themselves – you know you are in their presence almost immediately when you notice their lack of ego. You recognize their compassionate hearts. When you try to learn an art or a science from people who really embody what they teach, you know the knowledge they are trying to impart something authentic. They are sharing a piece of themselves to you, and you take in every piece and try to protect each one by practicing and teaching others to the best of your ability.

[I would like to thank my teachers in Vinyasa Yoga School. You’ve all been such a wonderful inspiration.]

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(L-R) Harsh – Mantra Teacher, Helen, Joan, Leona, Mahesh – Yoga Philosophy + Therapy Teacher, Kusshal – Yoga Anatomy and Physiology + Yoga Business Administration Teacher , Vikas – Vinyasa Teacher

It’s easy to drastically change your lifestyle when you have no other option. When you’re stuck in a city where your normal diet is no longer the norm, when the food you wouldn’t even consider eating back in your own home is the only thing that’s available to you, then you not only reconsider, but you actually partake. Not only that, you begin to enjoy what you have and wish it would always be your norm.

Celebrating my 25th birthday by being sung to in 7 different languages. Thank you, classmates and teachers for making my birthday memorable!

Celebrating my 25th birthday by being sung to in 7 different languages. Thank you, classmates and teachers for making my birthday memorable!

It is so easy to tell yourself and others that you are genuinely happy with your new life. You feel at peace and you love what you have when the world around you is very much conducive to peace and love. The only moments you dread in this new life of yours are the few short hours in the early morning when the temperature drops below what you’re accustomed to. But even with that, nothing can cool the new flame of joy in your heart. Of course you know deep within, this couldn’t be your new life. It’s a temporary retreat from the world you’ve been so familiar with, the world in which you were brought up, the world which happens to be your home, the world you need to come back to in a few short weeks.

Ready for river rafting at the Ganges. Not exactly waterproof. But I had an amazing experience.

Ready for river rafting at the Ganges. Not exactly waterproof. But I had an amazing experience.

What’s difficult is returning to your separate reality and see that the world you were used to, the one where you come from, the one where you’re supposed to thrive, hasn’t changed. You come back thinking you were supposedly a new person, only to find the same hustle and bustle when you come home. That’s the real challenge – to maintain calm and composure, and to keep a positive perspective in life in the midst of all surrounding tension and turmoil. That’s when you know if your retreat really made an impact on your life – if you still have that joy in your heart despite the external situation. And that’s when you become thankful that of all the new asanas and mantras and philosophies you have learned, letting go of attachment was one (and mostly emphasized) of them.

Thank you, Rishikesh!

Thank you, Rishikesh!

Coming to Rishikesh, as with most decisions I make in life, was deemed unnecessary by a lot of people in my life. But I’ve learned that sometimes you need to go seemingly insane and make unconventional and irrational choices so you can regain your focus again. Sometimes all you need is to completely overhaul your surroundings to realize that it doesn’t matter what’s going on outside. What you need, and what you hope to become, has always been inside you. Thank you, Rishikesh, for showing me exactly that. I will forever be grateful.

So, India

After an eternity of begging my father to allow me one final trip abroad before my 25th birthday, he finally agreed to let me take my 200-hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training in no less than the world’s yoga capital itself – Rishikesh, Uttarkhand, India – a city on the foot of the Himalayas, along the banks of the sacred Ganges River.

I’ll be going on this trip with my mentor, Helen Prieto. I am beyond stoked! A little bit scared, but excited, nonetheless. I’ve made all my travel arrangements and now I’m just counting the days (errr, weeks) until my flight to Delhi.

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To Fly or Not To Fly?

How many Yoga asanas are named after birds? Let me name those I know:

  1. Eagle
  2. Crow
  3. Crane
  4. Peacock
  5. Swan
  6. Rooster
  7. Pigeon
  8. and my personal favorite, Bird of Paradise
Seated Bird of Paradise

Seated Bird of Paradise

When we see birds flying, we take for granted their grace as they glide across the empty sky. What we fail to see is the constant, tiring flapping of their wings when they tread against the gust of wind. We don’t hear them complain about the struggles of flying. And when we see them at rest, they proudly hold their heads up and chests out (unless they’re eating, which is the only time we see them bow down), as if they had not just flown 50 kilometers in the vastness of the sky.

So many of us (myself included) want to be (or at least experience being) free as birds in flight, thinking only of the grace and sophistication of these tireless creatures. We never consider the consequences of being free. Then again, we only want things we think are somehow beneficial. When we truly want something, do we let the negative side effects bother us during the time we struggle to attain it? I guess not. It’s human nature to only want to see the good things. That is why 80% of the time, we plan only positive outcomes. We fail to consider contingencies, especially when it’s only for the mundane occurrences of life like moving across the country for college, or accepting a job half-heartedly, or learning a craft just for the heck of it.

See, unlike birds, most of us humans don’t have clear intentions to justify our actions. We have our selfish, temporary reasons. And when the time comes for us to analyze why we truly want what we want, we cannot give a definitive response, even to ourselves. See, when birds fly south for the winter, they have a reason: SURVIVAL. Humans are more complicated. We are already surviving, yet we want something more. The sad part is, most of the time, we do not know what we want exactly. We just know we want more.

Looking at my life, I guess I already have my little piece of paradise. I have a solid support system in the form of a loving family and a small but reliable set of friends. I have no material need that remains unfulfilled. And I am walking forward with the life I choose. Truly, I have no more wants – except to flap my wings.

Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise

Of Plans, Plants, and Other Rants

Plans

I don’t believe in creating a bucket list. For one, it’s a list of things a person is supposed to be doing before he/she dies. It’s vague for me how a bucket list works (is it mandatory or optional? how do you finance it?)

Since I’ve spent most of my adult life with a day planner (or a daily to-do list), a bucket list should be second nature for me. But, no. I cannot have my life’s goals depend on a LIST. A list is simply not enough. I need details, bullet points, lists within lists within a list. I need a point of reference, commencement and culmination dates. I need financial mapping, where to get money from and where to spend it on (consider monetary logistics, because money is a good gauge of whether or not I can push something through). OCD aside, I need my life’s goals to be laid out in a manner I can work with and work on.

Yes, sometimes my head is so far down my ass I see wonderful things in all its glorious tightness. But after fucking messing up so many times, I think people will understand if I have developed a natural disinclination to allow things to fall apart. So, I control what I can. But it’s a depressing fact of life that some things are ever so naturally beyond my control (hence, I practice yoga asanas and meditation).

So anyway… Since I started practicing yoga about a year ago, I’ve built my life around a premise that in whatever I do, it must have some sort of benefit to my body, my environment, my economy. OKay, so that’s another gauge. I’m not making any coherent sense, but allow me to ramble on…

Plants

I remember in college when I told myself I’d turn vegetarian by age 25. I never actually meant it then. But now that I’m a mere 6 months away from the silver age, it’s starting to make more sense. I better put more thought to this. And more greens.

And other rants

  • Pet peeve: uncertainty in all its forms and inconveniences. Had a recent run in with this. I try not to dwell on it. I try. I do.
  • Yoga: Not really a rant but I’ve been making great progress, using my old stiff self as basis of comparison. Got a new Manduka Pro Drift mat. Slippery when new, awesome when (forcefully) broken in.
  • Income: I need more. I’m not lazy. But I just need to divert my attention to income generating activities. Gotta pay the bills somehow. Hmmmn.
  • Love: I love India. What can I say. I haven’t been to, but my idea of a spiritual pilgrimage is to spend at least a month in an ashram in Rishikesh, Uttarkhand. Wake up and smell the curry! I want to eat, pray, fornicate LOVE. 😀
  • I’m in dire need of cohesion. Seriously.