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What Has Yoga Taught Me About Life

Beyond the yoga asanas and all the philosophical underpinnings, there are various life lessons that I have learned from yoga practice.

1) Do not create unnecessary tension
When I get into challenging poses, usually the first thing that I would do is clench my teeth and tense my shoulders. This does not help me to achieve the final pose much easier and even made me lost focus on my breathing. Instead, keep the mind calm, peaceful and yet focus, and unknowingly, I am already in the position. In reality, when I am faced with obstacles and challenges, I tend to get stressed out, maybe panic and sometimes over-react. This does not help me to achieve what I want from life, in fact it hinders. Thus, just take things easy but be alert and focus to solve any obstacles.

2) If something is not working, you have the power to change it
Coming into yoga postures again, sometimes we hurt parts of our body and even bruise and scrape our skin while trying to achieve certain poses. Perhaps it’s not the right way or method to come into that pose and we should change the way we are practicing it. In reality, if your co-worker is bringing you down with her/his constant negativity, you have the power to change the way you relate to that co-worker.

3) You can achieve more than you think
Before starting my 200Hr YTT Hatha Vinyasa Course, I was inspired by the inversions and some arm balances and backbending poses. I never attempted to perform them as they seemed real tough and challenging and I do not want to get any body injuries. However, surprisingly, with much perseverance and practice, I am now able to perform some of these poses, even for a brief moment, because I kept practicing, gaining strength and learning the technique little by little each day. Thus, nothing is impossible and we can accomplish things in life if we approach them with determination, hard work and persistence.

4) Honour your body and be patient
We can never force our body to open into a pose before it is ready. If you do, you will either fail miserably or you will hurt yourself while trying. You will have to work up to poses through warming up each practice session to cultivate your strength and increase flexibility, and some poses might even take a lifetime. Life is the same way. Do not rush things and let things go with the flow. Consistency, determination and perseverance will eventually reward you when the time comes.

5) Only you can make sound decisions for yourself
In a regular yoga class, my teacher will always be there to guide me and offer suggestions. But no matter how experienced and how good she is, she does not live in my body and she does not feel what I feel. For this reason, I am the only one who can make sound decision for myself. Trust your judgement, do what feels right to your body and mind, and you can never go wrong.

[Sharon Phang; 200 Hr YTT Hatha Vinyasa]