1. Practice yoga – it always comes back to your practice. More problems in your mind and body are solved by simply practicing yoga, than any other means – including thinking, fretting, losing sleep and (low and behold) therapy. Albert Einstein said: we can’t solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created it. Your mind got you into the mess you’re in in the first place. Use your practice to get out of your head and into your body begin to tap the wisdom that rests in there.
  2. Be kind – to yourself and to others. Start with yourself and practice this every day. It’s a most unnatural thing to practice kindness compassion and care to ourselves – yet it kind of is a prerequisite to offer the sincere kind of care kindness and compassion to those around you.
  3. Listen to your body – in how you practice yoga, in how you eat, in every day situations. Your body will give you warning signals to let you know when you go too far, when what you’re eating isn’t what it needs (and will cause your death a few years down the line) and way before any situation gets beyond your control. If we can learn to tap into the signals from our bodies we can make better choices for ourselves. We can become proactive rather than reactive and save ourselves so much physical and emotional pain. Even in stressful encounters with other people. Your body will warn you when you are beginning to spin outside of your comfort zone (your centre as we yogis refer to it) and it will bring you back if you allow it. No more saying things you don’t mean and regretting it later. Hotheadedness – be gone!
  4. Eat consciously – no need to be a vegetarian as such but care about what you eat…and who you eat….and how you eat it. Be aware not only of how what you eat serves you and your body, physically, mentally and spiritually, but also how it impacts the environment. Enjoy what goes into your mouth, savour the taste and be grateful for the energy and nutrition it provides. Feel blessed by how the earth nourishes and supports you. Support organic farming for the sake of your body, the farmers, the animals and your earth. Which leads onto the next point…
  5. Care for the world – it’s inhabitants and the environment. You don’t have to be a green peace hippie – but brownie points if you are. Recognise the concept of ‘We are all connected’ and let that bring home to you the need for us all to look after each other and what we leave behind. It might not always feel that you can do much to save a starving child in Ethiopia and sure enough – the ignorance is bliss excuse works a charm for most. But you’re better than that and so is each starving child, each sea animal that dies due to pollution and every cow in a cage, abused and mistreated to provide to mass producers. The world is ours and you’re not as far away from it all as you think. Get on board. Take responsibility. Be kind.
  6. Don’t follow the rules – they aren’t real – or true and they don’t serve us. Who made the rules anyway? You are vast and brilliant and you are free. More so than we ever really allow ourselves to imagine. When you find yourself thinking ‘I should’ immediately interject and ask instead ‘says who?’. The lives we have created for ourselves by society’s rules which were devised to make us all more ‘predictable and controllable’ aren’t making us as happy as we should be. We are more depressed and less healthy than any generation that came before us. The more we fit into boxes the further we move away from our true nature of vastness and brilliance. Don’t succumb to ‘the rules’. Be who you really are and love every minute of it. See how the world will love you back!
  7. Exercise choice – choice in how you expend energy, choice in your responses and choice in how you approach the new beginnings available to you in every single day.
  8. Approach life with an attitude of gratitude – see the lesson in every moment and in every person and be grateful that they came to teach you what you needed to learn. Every situation or person – however unpleasant painful or wonderful, came to give you something to integrate into your being, to learn from and to allow you to become free of the bondage of your mind and everything that doesn’t serve you.
  9. Heart over matter – because that’s where your true power lies. Not in your mind like we have all allowed our minds to lead us to believe for so long. Keep coming back to stillness and finding that place of wisdom, love and peace inside you, and you will never again want for anything. The love and care of the Divine isn’t out there – it’s right here within you. You really never ever need anything more than connecting with that part of your being. And when you do that all of the above commandments effectively fall away because you are in your most natural most perfect state of being.
  10. On your journey to living the Ten Commandments be a caring and considerate studio yogi – don’t get protective of your space in the studio, don’t sweat on someone else’s mat. Don’t turn up late and don’t leave during savasana. Consider your neighbour in your supine twists when space is limited. Don’t judge people who don’t do yoga – they’re way behind you on the journey ? and say Namaste back to your teacher at the end of class. It’s just how it’s done. In the studio the teacher makes the rules ?
Disclaimer: Yoga is not a religion and these 10 commandments are not meant to attempt to replace or override the commandments, rules or regulations of any religious faith. (is there an emoticon for tongue in cheek?)

Read more:  http://mype.co.za/new/the-ten-commandments-of-a-yogi/29580/2013/09#ixzz3dLc9wuel
It’s a privilege to be pregnant. It is one of the greatest gifts the Universe bestows on us and it’s only fair for us to take this responsibility and blessing seriously. In an honest attempt to create the perfect home inside us for 9 months, we can often border on becoming quite obsessed with the ever growing list of do’s and don’t’s.

Without wanting to add to the confusion, I wanted to let momas- and aspiring momas-to-be know that one of the most beautiful and useful things you can do while pregnant (and while trying to get pregnant) is yoga. All you need to do is google benefits of yoga to come up with endless lists of amazing things that yoga does for your health in body and mind. The benefits of pregnancy yoga is just as well recorded and I will summarise them for you here – I know how many other ‘what-to-expect’ type reads there are out there – so let’s keep this simple!

  1. Know Your Body: I feel I bang on about this in every article I ever write about yoga. It’s just that it is so significant. The way that yoga teaches you to connect to your body is even more valuable during pregnancy. With so much information on what is good and what’s not, it’s hard to know what would work for you. The reality is that every single body is different and the wisdom that exists inside you is more valuable to you than any expert opinion. When you know your body and are tuned in to the signs your body gives you – you will know exactly what works for you and what doesn’t. Yoga helps you build that connection. Don’t underestimate the value of your inner voice and wisdom. Tap into it to give your baby the best nourishment and care during pregnancy.
  2. Get Stronger, Flexible and Better Balanced: We know yoga makes us stronger, more flexible and balanced, and just think about how important that is during pregnancy. Not only are you carrying so much extra weight as the time passes during the pregnancy, but things get extra tight and restricted as your body changes to prepare for birth. You become more wobbly and off balance, leaving you feeling quite out of sorts and like your body is no longer your own. A yoga practice will make you strong for carrying baby during and after pregnancy. It will help you be aware of the tight spots and help you open it up, and with postures like tree pose and half moon, you will find your new centre of gravity, leaving you feel solid and grounded for the duration of these amazing months.
  3. Get Open and Loose for Childbirth: Being strong for childbirth is a huge bonus but in the months running up to your big day, your practice can work specifically to open your hips, helping in pushing and the actual delivery of your baby. Women who practice yoga find child birth easier – it could be as simple as that.
  4. Abolish Lower Back pain: As you core weakens during pregnancy the lower back takes a lot more strain, resulting in lower back pain being a common issue during pregnancy. The sciatic nerve is often irritated during pregnancy as well which can be very uncomfortable and even painful. Yoga postures designed to stretch out the lower back helps to release tension, alleviate compression in the spine and again – just frees things up so you feel open, spacious and free in your own body. Not the type of sensations women generally report feeling while pregnant is it? Well with yoga, it’s a reality…you can still feel damn good while pregnant!
  5. Bonding with Baby: Pregnancy classes often have a meditative aspect to them allowing you time to bond with your baby. You will do so by becoming still, focusing on your baby, connecting to your feelings about the pregnancy, aspirations for your child going forward and the type of parent you want to be. One would think this is all we think about while pregnant but life doesn’t stop just because we have a heart beating inside us. It’s essential to take the time out to contemplate your emotions in relation to the baby and communicate them while baby is still inside you. There is now ample research to show babies pick up on moma’s state of mind while they’re in the uterus. Give your baby a flying start by connecting to him/her this early on already.
  6. Support in Numbers: Being pregnant, especially for the first time, is associated with many fears and anxieties, which momas-to-be need to find a way to channel. Being in a group with other expectant mothers provides much needed, release as it offers you the opportunity to share fears, get advice and support and be completely understood right here – right now. Your sister or mother or aunty’s experience many moons ago will always be different to yours. With the best of intentions from all of those who love you, sometimes its nice to be around people who are in exactly the same place as you right now. In a non-judgmental and openly kind and sharing environment such as that created in pregnancy yoga classes, you will not be left to feel like you’re on your own in this.
  7. Take a Breath….and sigh it out…:
    Breathing exercises in yoga have many benefits for our momas-to-be, least of all calming the nervous system. By regulating your breath you can calm your entire body down in seconds whenever you need to. You can stop yourself in those moments of irrational fears, or emotional turmoil which is so common in pregnancy – and it can probably help you save relationships with partners and family members who are around you at the time. Breath management is also invaluable in pain control during child birth – or whenever you need it really!
  8. Relax Relax Relax: Every time you come to yoga you will stop and guide yourself into a beautiful state of relaxation. Purposefully relaxing your body in this way is essential in a busy daily life – and especially important during pregnancy. Not even when we sleep do we let go of tension and with baby being so tuned in and dependent on you being happy, relaxed and soft, it is so important to take time for this part of the yoga practice. Having the noise in your head turned down – even if just for a while – is so valuable. Being completely relaxed and free from all the demands of the world out there helps you to be fully present for yourself and for your baby. When you connect to the present like that, amazing things happen in your soul and your levels of well-being soar inexplicably. Guaranteed.
  9. Rest on Demand: Needing to learn to relax whenever you can is excellent practice for when baby will grace you with his/her presence. ‘Nap when baby naps’ is one of the most common and most valuable pieces of advice given to new momas and in yoga you will be practicing to do this. In fact – this will probably be the part of practice you will look forward to most because we all need it so much. Savasana is that space – when you become so still, yet aware. You rise from that feeling rejuvenated energized and ready to … get pregnant again!
  10. Encourage Confidence: Pregnancy and parenthood is an exciting but scary time. How good a parent will you be, will you have enough money to meet the demands of a new baby and will you ever have your body back again? Yoga has an amazing way to bring you back to what really matters. It brings you to here and now and you begin to recognize more and more, that you are on a journey. No amount of worrying about the journey will solve the problems along the way. It will however rob you of your peace, your freedom and the joy in the journey. These kinds of wisdoms that will be shared by your yoga teacher will often be exactly what you need, to get perspective and calm your raging mind. Because yoga builds confidence and strength in your body, it transfers to your mind. An open expansive body, leads to an open and expansive mind. We all need a confidence boost at the best of times. Yoga will give you that when you need it most.

Here is an idea for how to structure you prenatal Yoga Practice:

Gratitude: for the stage of pregnancy, the baby and the beautiful belly that goes with it
Surrender: to the process of pregnancy, the changes in your body and the impact on your mind and rest of your life. Coming to terms with and being at ease with what is ,will free you.
Love: Learning to love yourself and your body will better equip you to love your baby and your partner. Connect back to your feelings, assume responsibility for those feelings and leave your practice, a more balanced loving person.

There are many things you can do to make your pregnancy more meaningful and enjoyable and set you up for childbirth and child rearing. There is something for everyone and I trust that taking up prenatal yoga will be something that will transform your experience wherever you’re at.

As we enter the last week of January, 93% of people who have made new years resolutions would have abandoned them. In fact – most of the 93% would have abandoned their resolutions after just one week. It has me wondering if some of us still even remember what our resolutions were.

There is an inexhaustible pile of literature out there about how to set better, more realistic and achievable new years resolutions and this article is not one of them. While I believe its good to want to change things in your life for the better – setting resolutions or setting goals and failing – isn’t very good for your sense of self-worth and belief in holding that belief that you are able to achieve anything you want.

I have not set resolutions for a number of years and it got me thinking about what it is that is different in my life now, compared to five or ten years ago when I bought special notepads and books to write resolutions in – and track them over time? The short answer to that is – I became a yogi.

Adopting a new lifestyle as opposed to adding on bits and pieces to a poorly coordinated and incoherent way of life proved much easier, much more meaningful and undoubtedly, sustainable.

The main areas in which people set new years resolutions are money and success/work; family life, weight control, health and wellness, achievement in activities/hobbies, improving quality of life, feeling better…living better. Looking at this list, the thought of adding tasks in some or each of these areas seem arduous and even impossible. Especially adding that on to a life that is already unforgiving in its demands on time and energy. No wonder we set ourselves up to fail.

In my case a lifestyle change set me free of always failing at adding bits and pieces to an already full and cluttered life. My lifestyle change involved adopting the life of a yogi. It became all my new years resolutions rolled into one sweet package. It made me achieve all those resolutions I, with the best of intentions failed at, and made me forgive myself for the areas in which I would struggle. Nobody’s perfect. I didn’t have to throw the ones I didn’t ‘master’ out, because there is so much room for error and forgiveness, and much less room for judgment. So I work my way through as part of my lifestyle and nothing hangs on me achieving or letting go of anything in the first week or three of January.

So here are my reasons for saying Yoga beats new years resolutions any day – and it will for just about everyone out there.

  1. Yoga is a lifestyle: Its not just physical exercise. If you let it, it will ease up on the rigidity you feel you need to employ when approaching life and ‘the way things should be’. It is forgiving, and kind. It allows for a different way of being – rather than an attempt at just doing things differently. A change in lifestyle means you own what you do, rather than try to make lots of new (or old habits) fit into a lifestyle to which it perhaps might not be suited.
  2. Yoga addresses your health needs in a very unique and effective way: Yoga will ease pain and bring newfound health and vitality to your body in ways you didn’t imagine before or during your first class, sweating through a downward facing dog. The physical aspect of yoga alone will do that. The more subtle elements in yoga will make you aware of your body in a way that may seem foreign to you reading this now. You will begin to know your body for what it is and what it needs. You will begin to value your body, respect it and treat it in the way it deserves to be treated. Your health becomes something you care to know about – not something your doctor sorts out during times of dis-ease. You own your body. Its been there from the start and will be till the end. You can’t say that about many other things in life. Yoga teaches you to love your body. What follows is simply beautiful.
  3. Yoga is better for you on a physical level than going to the gym: Imbalance in your body brings imbalance in your mind. Illness and disease are ultimately due to imbalances – physically, mentally, spiritually. Going to the gym isn’t a bad thing in itself – but it doesn’t ultimately give you the foundation for balance that you need. How many people go to the gym and quit after a little while? How many people hurt themselves doing strength training in the gym? How many people have ruined their health as a result of not knowing when to push and when to stop in training of their bodies? How many people feel bad about their bodies when hanging out in the ‘gym culture’? Yoga gives you all the elements of a solid and strong workout without taking away the balance your perfect body needs in terms of flexibility to counter strength, relaxation to counter the high adrenaline, knowledge and understanding and respect of your body to counter the perfect body image you chase in the gym culture. And on a vanity note – Yoga makes your body look great – toned, lean, strong, healthy. Oh yes.
  4. Yoga compliments every other sport you will ever do: Adopting a yoga lifestyle doesn’t mean you stop doing the sports you love. It does mea though, that you enhance your ability to achieve in sports, and limits your potential for injury. Sport is such a wonderful way to stay active, stay connected to people and possibly even with nature if the sport is played outdoors. Many of us practice sports for all those reasons and some practice for achievement, which in itself – also – is great on many levels. Wanting to achieve is fabulous – hurting yourself to get there – not so much. Doing yoga though – will again provide a foundation from which to safely expand your physical and mental boundaries. From a place of self-awareness and respect and care for your body, it is much harder to push through and hurt yourself. If achievement is important why cut playing the short, through injury?
  5. Yoga improves your family life: An interesting line of feedback from students who practice yoga at Heal. Love. Yoga has been their improved family relationships. This is as a result of them feeling much calmer and much more in control of themselves, their responses to stress and their time. Yoga is powerful like that. The concept of choosing how we respond to discomfort in our bodies quickly transcend the four walls of the studio into real life, and the result is a change in what matters most – how we treat and interact with the ones we love the most. Yoga calms the nervous system. This means a calmer, more in touch and real you.
  6. Yoga improves your work life: For the same reasons that it impacts on your family life, it does your work life. Coming to realize that worrying takes your peace away rather than your problems, and that nothing is ever really under your control, is freeing to say the least. This doesn’t mean you don’t care about what happens and shrug your shoulders at responsibility. Not at all. It means the opposite – it means very proactively dealing with what you can, without paralyzing yourself worrying about what hasn’t happened yet and may never materialize. It means choosing how best to spend time acting on your responsibilities to make it worthwhile. Investing energy wisely rather than wasting it… exhaustion, burnout, sick leave = wasted energy.
  7. Yoga helps you to see yourself differently: Much/most/all of our dissatisfaction with life, stem from how we see ourselves: how hard we judge ourselves and how little compassion and care we apply when interacting with ourselves. This naturally transcends to how we see and interact with the world. Through yoga you begin to explore the wonder of you; all that you are capable of when you didn’t even know to try. It teaches respect and admiration for what you are, what you are made of, what you do and mean to the world and why you being authentic and real is important to what happens to the world around you. You matter.
  8. Yoga helps you to experience and see the world differently: Yoga is very much a philosophy of connectedness. We are all connected. Understanding this concept and acting on it translates into a world where you treat people, animals, the environment the way you want to be treated – with care, awareness, and sensitivity. You begin to see the ripple effect your actions can have on things way, way far away from you and begin to take responsibility for yourself and for the world around you. We are all here for a reason – a purpose. You will only begin to realize that purpose once you can realize that you are part of this world and it is part of you. There is no separation ultimately other than the separation that you create in your mind. It is this self-invented separation that causes most of the pain, conflict and heartache in the world today.
It was a tall order to say yoga will incorporate and encompass all of the new years resolutions you could probably ever have…but there you have it. This is on the basis of my own personal experience and I would be very interested to hear your thoughts!


Practicing Yoga in a conscious and present way is a great way to learn more about yourself and how you interact with and respond to life in general. These lessons aren’t always clear as day but when we begin to let go of the preconceived ideas of what we should be doing or look like in a yoga class and just become very aware of ourselves, our bodies and our response to the practice– as its happening in real time – we begin to be able to draw some parallels with how we respond in life outside of the studio.

One of the very interesting lessons yoga has brought home to me is the way in which I expend energy. Noticing where energy is concentrated or stuck, and then being able and willing to move it around is one of the privileges of the yoga practice – and one of the privileges of being human and exercising choice. The choice comes after awareness of what is actually happening in our bodies and in our lives and so practicing being truly present for ourselves is of crucial importance.

Take for example a high lunge where we’re normally blasting energy through the front leg, carrying all the weight of our bodies and just hanging in there hoping it will be over soon. We tense up holding on to the position, trying to balance and not fall to the side for fear of a domino effect of yogis toppling all over each other (see how worrying about something that hasn’t even happened yet takes you out of the present moment?). In this posture there are quite a few other parts of the body to shift awareness and focus to in order to alleviate the tension, i.e. the concentration of energy in that front leg. Moving the energy around will mean your front leg won’t fatigue as quickly and the posture can be held for a much longer period of time – giving you even more of the benefit. Let me illustrate: while in your high lunge, shift your focus to the back leg – pushing the back heel away from you and straightening out the back leg puts strength into that leg that anchors you down and assists in the balancing element of the posture. This in turn means a huge relief in the front leg. Tucking the tailbone down and lifting your belly takes a lot of weight out of the front leg as your upper body now uses its own energy to hold itself up and ‘be light’ rather than bearing more weight onto the legs. Firing up the arms and blasting energy through both hands, also shifts energy away from the legs and helps to give your upper body the feather quality of being light and easy to hold up. Softening your face frees up some energy to expend in more useful places rather than just being wasted on something that makes no difference to the pose whatsoever….to just name a few.

So what does this teach us about our responses in real life?

We all have situations in our lives where we feel our attention or energy is being drawn to certain aspects and pulled away from others. We need a daily reminder that nothing is drawn, nothing is taken, nothing is given – everything is a choice that we make. In the high lunge you place your energy in the front leg and hope it will be over soon…and if the situation lasts the front leg gets into trouble – just as you do, when situations you are ‘drawn’ to don’t resolve and you exercise no choice of withdrawing energy or finding ways of supporting yourself in these situations. Someone grates you, wrongs you, angers you and so your energy is focused on this particular situation/person. The focus of energy is a magnet for more energy meaning that a situation (often negative or difficult) becomes all consuming. Losing sight of the ability to choose whether to invest further in this energy, or to withdraw, move it around, diffuse its intensity – results in lots of dissatisfaction, internal civil wars and general draining of vital energy. This in essence is completely unnecessary and could be prevented if we were able to be very present for ourselves at all times – always choosing, consciously, mindfully, how we will expend energy, and how we can conserve it. If we can consciously be aware of the energy sappers – and taking charge!

Allowing a concentration of negative energy such as anger or resentment to build up usually leads to some chronic pain, illness or form of depletion – as we all well know. In that sense, redistributing energy and rebalancing attention from our obsessions with things that don’t necessarily serve us, is an act of healing towards ourselves and our bodies. We can also help our bodies last much longer by shifting the energy around, making it lighter, not being so obsessed and focused on one single way of looking at or doing something. Part of this is letting go of the need to manage all qualities of our experience as well as different opinions for different people. Recognising that some of what we want to control is not in fact OURS actually frees up your body and mind of so much unnecessary tension. Someone comes at us and we get so stuck in that place where it hurts that we fail to see any options – least of all letting go of what we can’t control – and taking charge of our response to that which is not ours.

Learning to move energy around in this way, getting unstuck in places where it hurts, places where we hold on to beliefs and ideas that really serves no one including ourselves, is a way of also starting to live more compassionately towards the world. Sharing compassion will result in receiving compassion and hey – what do you know – the world becomes a kinder place. Big change starts with the change in you so don’t underestimate the power and magnitude of this stuff.

So for the benefit of all of us in your world and outside, entertain the possibility of welcoming back into your heart the people you have tossed out, called names, written off. You don’t have to see them or even be with them, but as an option, instead of holding them so far away, release some of that energy you’re using to do so, for your own healing.

When you have hate in your body for anyone, remember that that hate lives in your body…not theirs.

The most rewarding part of teaching yoga is the amazing responses I get from students after practice. Day in and day out people come through the door – from different backgrounds and with different sources of stress – but they all have one thing in common: through a regular yoga practice they come to realise that you achieve much more when you move with ease, than when you’re all forceful about what you think you need to achieve.

As always with yoga – the lessons on the mat are so relevant to your life out there. Seeing the journeys people go on during their practice really is like seeing their entire lives unfold symbolically. People often come to say that after even a single session of yoga or a month of yoga classes, they have learnt more patience with others (because they learnt to be patient with themselves when they saw how restricted their body was), they have become more relaxed and able to stay calm during stressful periods (because they learnt to use their breath to calm their nervous system), their back feels great and they have loads more energy (because they have learnt to move with ease in the practice instead of force – depleting all energy and tensing up the entire back). The list goes on and on. Most importantly for here and now though – learning the ability to move with ease. Finding ease in a posture and finding ease in the way in which you engage with the world on a day-to-day basis is quite simply one of the most valuable lessons and skills you will ever learn.

Many of my students have fallen out of postures (and some to the ground) laughing, when I – while they are hanging mid air in some obscure balancing pose – reminded or rather, urged them to ‘find the ease in the pose’. It seems such a foreign concept to ‘find ease’ when you are trying so very, very hard to just get into, and hold on to this obscure position. It seems foreign because it is. There is no ease with forcing, no ease in trying too hard and no ease in trying to reach just an end goal with no consideration of what the journey is about. Too many scenarios like this, where we force and push and disregard our ability to achieve whatever we want with grace and ease, and we end up a stress ball, tense and restricted with much less capacity to do all the amazing things we are capable of doing. Finding the ease on the other hand leaves you with tons more energy to expand, achieve more than you expected, and perhaps (shock horror) even enjoy it while you’re at it. Some of my students have found that place – that moment when you just let go in a posture – even when it is tough. They have had the precious moment of staying ‘sweet’, breathing and letting go of the unnecessary tension – and truly seeing what their body is capable of when you let go and let it move. Afterwards these students sat in awe of their bodies, and the dramatic difference moving with ‘ease’ brought to the depth with which they were able to expand in the pose.

The ways in which yoga will help you move with ease and achieve more:

Yoga teaches you to be much more aware of and tuned in to your body and the tension that it holds for you every day. We live in a day and age where tension is the norm. Ease (relaxation/softness) has become something we work on and seek to find through classes such as yoga. We might be relaxing in front of the TV or chilling out at home – even when we are sleeping, the tension still sits in our muscles – day in and day out. The result – you and me functioning with tension, effort, a feeling of having to force, try, just see it through, just keep going, shouldering on. This isn’t moving with ease. This is not how we function to our full potential. Recognizing tension in your body will give you the opportunity to purposefully dissolve it – let it go. Perhaps you will learn to do this firstly in a yoga class and then perhaps in your daily life – in difficult encounters at work, in relationships with loved ones. Being able to let unnecessary tension go will free you up to be yourself. Tension isn’t who you are – it’s something the way we live added and it’s not always the most attractive addition. Notice it. Dissolve it. Move with ease.

Moving and responding to how you feel
I always tell my students that your yoga practice is your time – your time to do what makes you feel good. We practice yoga because it makes us feel damn good, remember? I always encourage checking in with the body – how are you feeling – aches, pains, fatigue? Respond to it. Accept that it is there and do what your body needs you to do. It won’t always mean backing off and it won’t always mean working harder. You need to learn to know what your body needs and respond to it in a caring and considerate way. How often do we feel like we live our lives to keep other people happy? How often do we feel we need to suppress resentment for not being able to do what we need, or what feels good for us. We have been conditioned to think that disregarding ourselves and just living for others is GOOD. It’s not. Living with a disregard for what you need will lead to you running on empty. Being empty will make it much more difficult to give to anyone around you. Disregarding your own needs will lead to anger and resentment. Anger and resentment sits as tension in your body and unaddressed tension and unaddressed emotions lead to very serious illness. Learning to listen to your body and fulfilling your own needs is crucial to keep it easy, keep yourself and everyone around you happy, nourished and fulfilled. Not just that – it’s essential to keep you healthy but more on that topic another time.

Learn to soften yourself
Awareness is pointless unless you learn what to do when you gain the awareness. Found the tension – now what to do with it? Yoga will teach you to soften yourself, firstly with your breath – before you’ve even started moving, and practicing to soften yourself when you are engaged in various postures of different degrees of difficulty.
Stress and tension exist. It is there and it is part of life. Practicing ease through your yoga practice is a way to learn to let that tension move in, through and out of your body without debilitating/limiting you. It’s to teach you not to get stuck on tension. It’s to show you that once you noticed the tension as a form of energy – you can move that energy around, dissolve it, reduce the acuteness of it, and return to your natural state – which is ease.
So through sometimes very difficult postures you begin to see that even in this really challenging ‘situation’ coming back to a place of ease helps to access this posture – or enjoy it, or live through it without any major trauma!

Just like you go further in a posture with ease, you achieve more in life when you approach it with ease. Can you soften the tension today and begin to see how much more fulfilling a life without force can be? Take a few deep breaths – repeat all day. You’re softer already ?

I have in my years of practicing yoga shifted in my reasons for doing so. It started out as a physical thing, where I was convinced that hot bikram yoga will transform my body so that even I could love it. It has evolved and now my philosophy around practicing yoga is simple: practice yoga because it feels damn good. Sometimes you know why it feels just so great– and other times you can’t explain it. Who cares?! Does everything have to be worded and boxed? No. It really doesn’t…and shouldn’t.

Many people decide to practice yoga because a particular style or school of yoga really gives them what they need! Some yogis and teachers REALLY believe that their own style is the best to follow – which is great – it obviously makes them feel damn good and I for one will not argue with that.

They might enjoy the structure and safety in an Iyengar Yoga practice – where precision in alignment, timing and sequencing is everything. Others love the Ashtanga Series for the fact that it requires tremendous strength and power to get through. Not to mention the arm definition its bound to give you! Vinyasa flow is the most hip form of yoga in the West, with postures flowing into each other, much like a dance – with every class being different to any other, as it is often just the creative energy of the teacher which governs what is included on any given day. Hot yoga became another craze and still make people feel fantastic and others sick – every damn day!

Ultimately the styles are based on Hatha Yoga – that yoga developed in India centuries ago – the same yoga that builds strength, flexibility and balance. Also the same yoga that improves your bone density, joint flexibility, sorts out spinal issues, strengthens your immune system and dramatically reduces your stress levels.

All the yoga styles are great. They all get you there – in different ways. Go with the one that makes you feel damn good.

Many people take to yoga as part of a spiritual journey – seeking a connection with The Higher Source. Yoga often strengthens people’s relationship with God, which is part of what makes the practice so special…for some. As many choose to avoid yoga because it’s perceived to be in conflict with or seen to be a religion on its own. The questions live on: Does practicing yoga mean I subscribe to Hinduism or Buddhism? Is it a religion or isn’t it? No and no. Just like practicing Japanese martial arts such as Karate and Aikido doesn’t mean you subscribe to Buddhism, practicing yoga doesn’t make you Hindu – or a sorcerer or witch or anything. Yoga is non-sectarian, promoting health and harmonious living. A little like feeling damn good! Yoga is such a personal experience so whether you do it with a spiritual end goal in mind, or only to correct your spine – it’s all good.

Some people take to yoga because it’s the cool, fashionable thing to do. Everyone does it – A through to C list celebrities and sport personalities/teams have all taken to the mat to get in line with the ‘trend’ that brings so many benefits. So they ended up staying – because it feels so damn good! Yoga is transformative – and it will stay that way – long after it stops being cool. If ‘cool’ is your reason it’s a good enough reason. Get into it and experience all the amazing benefits of being so damn cool.

In the ongoing war against being fat – many take to yoga with the aim of losing weight. Like with any weight-loss regime a balanced diet (first and foremost) combined with some form of exercise give the best results. The value of yoga in this quest comes back to the connection and relationship that is being built with your own body. On the yoga journey your body begins to be your teacher – showing you where to go shove your ‘perceived’ limitations. Your body – through the practice – helps you become stronger in and for yourself, it teaches you to trust in yourself and have confidence in what you can do. Your body shows you that you are more than just what’s in your mind or what is reflected on a scale. It is in this looking at yourself as if you’re someone you actually love, care for and admire that the shift begins to hit the fan. You become protective of what you give your mean miracle machine of a body. You nurture and nourish instead of stuff and abuse. You do this because you choose to and want to – not because you are restraining yourself out of fear of gaining pounds (and everything that is associated with being ‘fat’).

Loving and accepting your body, as it is today, is probably the biggest shift you will ever make in any weight-loss or self-development programme or journey– and once that happens who knows what the scales will do next?

Not that it matters of course – all that matters is that you feel damn good!

Yoga is an ever growing trend and with that comes an interesting addition to the existing yogic culture. Yogi’s aspire to being open and accepting, non-judgmental and kind . That is what the practice through the body ultimately try to teach us, but let’s be real….we’re just human. There are certain things going on in yoga classes these days that are simply unbearable and its time to name them with the hope of eradicating them altogether. So yes – Yoga is about acceptance and non-attachment – and yes, this article is ethically out of line. So bite me.

1. Runners shorts

Runners shorts are made for running and their main purpose: ventilation. You don’t need that much ventilation in the crotch during yoga class. Honestly. I know its hard to find good yoga pants, (for men especially), but really? Consider for a moment the teachers view of your privates while you’re lying down, and your fellow yogi’s view behind you in downdog split. Nasty.

2. Tights thinning around the crotch

Sometimes yoga is your entry back into physical movement after a long time of sitting on the couch, and no one expects you to arrive first time round with the perfect kit. It is sometimes a problem though when you turn up with the spandex you wore in the 80’s because that’s the last time you bought exercise gear. They tend to thin…mostly around the crotch and bum area. (What is it with inappropriate gear and the crotch?).

Tip: before coming to class – turn your back on the mirror and fold forward – look at your reflection through your legs….this simple exercise should help you decide if this is appropriate attire or not.

3. Doing your own thing

Any teacher worth her salt takes time to think about what it is the class will focus on and the sequences are planned accordingly. You might be really experienced and love yoga, know all the postures and have a very strong self-practice. Awesome. Now take your self-practice somewhere where you can practice it by yourself – and refrain from doing your own thing in the group class, confusing everyone else in the room who always seem to be one breath behind the strong ‘self-practicers’. You’re breeding confusion amongst your fellow yogis and a little bit of resentment in your teacher.

4. Sweating out your lunch

Yoga class is a place to sweat and when you’re attending full classes it may be worth considering how much garlic, alcohol and nicotine you take in before coming to yoga. Yes – we inhale it….and, yes, it reeks.

5. Coming in late and loud

Yoga is a special time of day in which you are the only one that matters. Its already so hard to switch off and let everything else go just for that hour and we always use the first few moments in class to set the stage for the rest of the practice – free from worries or concerns. Life happens and yes – sometimes, every now and again, maybe, once, maybe even twice, but definitely not regularly – you MIGHT be a minute or two late. It’s distracting for everyone. More so when you arrive late, throwing your gear around with no consideration for the silence we are all so desperately trying to cultivate. Really? Do it for yourself and do it for all the poor souls longing for these moments of peace and quiet. Come on time and when on the odd occasion, you don’t – arrive quietly.

6. Socks

Yes – they smell. Yes – take them off. Barefoot is best.

7. ‘Pedicuresque’ tasks in forward folds

Forward folds at the front of the mat is so restful for most. Apparently, however, when you fold easily from the hips with hands dangling around on the floor, you might find it a tad boring. And so you take this time to inspect your toes and use either use your nails to scrape away the toe jam between the toes (granted we are grateful you took your socks off) and/or cleaning your toenails with your fingernails. Definite no- no and super gross. It’s okay to glance and decide that perhaps it is time for a pedicure….but please then aim to get back to your breathing and folding, please!

8. Passing Gas

Passing gas in class is something that occurs, more often than you think so when this happens to you – no problem. It’s something that actually shows your practice is working for you, so don’t stress about it. Close your eyes – pretend it didn’t happen. What is a definite no-no here is this: the teacher passing gas and blaming it on the unsuspecting dude in the front row doing his best with his foot behind his head. Now THAT…is just WRONG.

Physiotherapists and Chiropractors have full waiting rooms for those who can no longer live with the pain and yet the problem never really gets resolved through that avenue either. Regular physio and chiro visits become a highly expensive treatment strategy for back pain. The issue is that while physios and chiros do a great job to relieve pain, it is only through recognising the underlying cause of back pain in the first place (i.e. not that this joint is pressing against that nerve and hence the pain – I’m talking what in your life style has caused this nerve to get in the way of that joint) and then systematically and regularly doing the work to maintain spinal adjustments and health, that back pain may become a thing of the past – as so many yoga students now find. Yoga couldn’t replace physios or chiros, but it certainly has a huge role to play in spinal health as millions of yogis the world over will profess.

Here are a few of the reasons why everyone with any form of back pain should attempt yoga as a way to relieve the pain and address the issues for a healthy spine in the longer run:

1. Relaxation – the role of tension/stress in pain

Our days are busy and we tend to run from one point to the next in an attempt to meet competing demands. We often operate on autopilot just in getting everything done and often have very little knowledge or awareness of the tension that sits in our bodies. This tension may sit here for years without being released. It eventually manifests in pain – and very often in back pain specifically. Not even when we sleep do we relax fully and release tension. There is therefore a huge role for very purposeful relaxation in releasing tension in the body – and in so doing beginning to release the source of pain. Stress and tension in the body has a far reaching impact on health – but just bringing it to the spine we become aware of its role in the following:

Tension in the spine prevents movement and therefore causes stagnation in the spine. Muscles lock around the vertebrae (in a protective way) but it means the spine becomes rigid where flexibility is needed. It results in poor posture, a lack of nourishment to joints which needs compression and release to fill up on the good stuff and the constant holding on in the muscles eventually causes pain.

The lack of movement where movement is needed causes other parts of the body to compensate and work harder or in a different way to ensure what needs doing gets done regardless of the rigidity in the spine, and these compensations causes tension, fatigue and misalignments in other parts of the body. This in turn also causes pain.

Rigidity in the spine makes the spine vulnerable to sudden movements, shocks or jolts – which if this then occurs in normal day-to-day life, makes the spine more vulnerable to more serious injury. A spine that has space between the vertebrae, lubricated and nourished joints and has a good level of flexibility can withstand much more of what it may be exposed to on a daily basis.

Yoga incorporates purposeful relaxation and stress release and gives you and your body the break it so desperately needs. Even doing this for a few minutes a day during practice makes an unbelievable difference.

2. Strengthening vs Releasing Tension in Movement/Exercise

When people are given advice on exercising to relieve back pain, they are often told that the core needs to be strengthened. So they may well set out to the gym to do more strength training. However – it is really important to know that before any strength work is done in relieving back pain – tension has to be released. Otherwise you will end up building strength around tension – more likely in the wrong places too – leading to even more misalignment and ultimately more pain and injury.

It is so important to release tension first – and in a tension free spine begin to strengthen that place of space and natural movement – rather than strengthening what you don’t want and are trying to get rid of. Strength training is great in its own time. But never ever strengthen tension.

Yoga incorporates both releasing and strength based movements – in the right proportions to the correct parts of the body to ensure a safe release and purposeful building in strength.

3. Flexibility vs Stability

Different parts of the spine require different levels of stability and flexibility. The lower back is a stable part of the spine, requiring less flexibility and more strength for stability. However – a really stiff lower back is not what you want either. It creates huge issues in limiting movement and brings the pelvis and hips out of alignment. The Thoracic or Middle back requires much more flexibility and limited strength to fulfil its function. It is the area where most of the movement occurs and importantly – the space to breathe! The Cervical spine requires a good balance of stability and flexibility. It supports the head and nervous system and a stiff neck adversely affects both brain and body. You really need the neck to be free of tension.

So it is very important to with a varied yoga practice address the different elements of what the spine needs – releasing tension but then improving flexibility where needed and building strength where that will support the spine – in the right proportions and in the right places.

4. Impact of core, hips, shoulders and hamstrings in back pain

We often hear that core is a big issue in lower back pain. A weak core most definitely impacts the spine as it puts additional pressure on the spine in various movements and also simply in poor posture. A strong core supports the spine in all its activity, so it definitely is true that you need to have a strong core. But strengthening your ‘abs’ by doing crunches isn’t strengthening your core. Your core involves the entire centre of your body – front and back – and if you simply focus strength on the front part of the body (abs) you are again putting strain on your back as the back part of the core can’t hold itself up against the front. So proper core exercises incorporating both the front and back body is essential in maintaining spinal health.

The core strength that you build in Yoga is unequalled and builds a solid and protective base from which your spine can fulfil its functions without having to over-exert itself and hold the core up when it was never meant to do that. A strong core lightens the load on the spine.

Tight hips and hamstrings are also culprits in back pain – especially lower back pain. So opening the hips and bringing length to the hamstrings will give more mobility to the lower back – and release pain.

Tight shoulders also impacts pain in the back – especially upper back and neck pain. We carry so much tension in the shoulders and neck and poor posture, sedentary lifestyle and imbalances in how we work out causes slouching shoulders and pressure on the upper back and neck.

You can already begin to see that addressing back issues and achieving full spinal health requires more than a massage and adjustments in your back alone. All body parts are connected. You will not achieve ongoing spinal health if your hips and hamstrings etc aren’t being cared for too.

5. Metaphysical Causes of Back Pain

Back pain originates – on the surface – from an injury or an accident. On a metaphysical level we believe that back pain is just another way in which your body is trying to communicate other imbalances in your body that requires your attention. From and Elemental point of view (assuming the body is energy made up of the five elements – earth, water, air, fire, and space/ether) – any spinal issues or injuries point to an imbalance in the water element in the body. Water imbalances indicates difficulties in allowing time or space to become still, to reflect on and acquire knowledge of the true self. It’s an inability to truly connect with one’s own feelings and actually feeling quite overwhelmed by them – and so either withdrawing or becoming preoccupied. People with water imbalances try to please others and tend to follow (go with the flow) what others think and feel, rather than understanding the values of boundaries and feeling confident in one’s own potential as well as limitations. This plays out overcompensating behaviours such as someone being either being quite overwhelming, extravagant, authoritarian, driven and disciplined and often critical of self and others – to the opposite end of someone being withdrawn and apprehensive, lacking in will-power and self-esteem and harbouring lots of feelings of unfounded guilt.

There is real value in looking at back pain from a physical as well as metaphysical (emotional) point of view and it may well mean the difference between resolving the pain issue once and for all or having to live with some degree of pain until your body finds a different and possibly more powerful (painful) way of communicating imbalances and things that aren’t working well to you.

Yoga offers the space for the body to come into its own and learn and process the lessons – sometimes even on a subconscious level. There is eternal wisdom inside your body and with yoga – you’re not trying to get into poses – you’re trying to use poses to get into your body – use it to its full capacity and allow the wisdom in your body to do what it does best – heal itself.

I’ve always said that one of the most valuable lesson from travelling is beginning to understand that there really is space for (many) more than one way of thinking, doing and being. What one culture accepts as paramount for survival, is completely irrelevant in another – rendering our ideas of what we ‘have to do’, ‘have to have’ or how we ‘have to be’ completely subjective and open for scrutiny. There are very few of our absolute beliefs that – if we let them go – will have us DIE. We hold onto them because they are valuable to us, define who we are, and give us a sense of identity. But when push comes to shove – they’re not really a matter of life and death. Others live and survive perfectly happily without them. Which means that while they are important to US – they’re not ‘universal’. ..and so in essence – they’re not ‘right’ or ‘wrong’: they’re just ours.

Travelling and becoming immersed in other cultures bring this idea home quite strongly. And without having to question or abandon one’s own belief systems or ideas – it just allows a sense of openness and acceptance around the fact that not everyone thinks, acts or believes as we do – and that’s okay. They’re not wrong – we’re not right. We’re just different. And on this beautiful earth – there is space for all of us. You might find what others do offensive – it still doesn’t make you right. Build a bridge – and get over it.

In the yoga community we ‘pride’ ourselves in our philosophy of openness, acceptance and non-judgment. We claim to not be attached to ideas and emotions on our path to ‘enlightenment’. That is unless, of course, someone tells us that they hate yoga…or prefer one style over another. It also doesn’t count when people question our vegetarian, paleo or vegan diets. Oh and we also become quite dogmatic about organic and non-organic, or the question about whether is yoga a religion or not – then we really get our backs up and you will hear a word or two about being offended and a be prepared for a pretty well worded argument as to why how we see it is RIGHT.

So in this philosophy which is really all about connection and oneness – we have also allowed our need to grab on and hold on, very rigidly so, onto a new set of beliefs – when all we perhaps wanted was to get out of the dogma around other beliefs we were brought up with. The notion of becoming dogmatic over things is rife everywhere – we become dogmatic about raising children, political parties, education, sports, potjiekos and so much more.

Disagreement is one thing. Failure to accept that someone might be different than ourselves, and making them wrong for it, is another. Disagreement keeps open the possibility of connection. Belittling and judgment shut that down.
In yoga, when we chant ‘om’ – it is to bring us back home to the idea of connectedness. The fact that we are all connected, to each other, to the earth, to God. Yet what we do by judging and drawing parameters around what and who is right and who is wrong – is bring separation.

So as yogis, and as humans, we need to begin to become present enough, so that we can identify when we are jumping on the dogma train and the demon of self-righteousness is lurking. To be blunt – it makes us nasty and insulting. It creates barriers, NOT bridges.

We practice yoga to practice becoming present. It’s a way of learning how to connect with ourselves in a different and meaningful way. We practice seeing ourselves for what we are with all our self-imposed limitations, the beliefs we hold that don’t serve us and hold us back, and the ways in which we feed unhealthy patterns and habits in our lives. It prepares us then to begin to connect with others: the yoga teacher, the other yogis in the room, the family members who think yoga are pretzel like postures, the co-workers who have no idea where its come from but who appreciates the calmer, more open, accepting, and non-judgmental you.

This is important because connectedness is what we really need. That is what really matters in your life, in PE, this country and the world. That is what we’re here for. Diets, political systems, cultural values and beliefs aside – we need to be connected to each other to be safe, to be happy, and to make the world the place it was intended to be.

So let’s drop the idea of being ‘right’ and pointing out the others’ ‘wrongs’. Our energy is best spent working at connectedness rather than winning a debate or argument. That is truly living the yoga philosophy.

Read more:  http://mype.co.za/new/being-right-is-far-inferior-to-being-connected/32560/2014/01#ixzz3dLO9J0Ek
While I appreciate the fact that most people who come to yoga, do so for reasons related to fitness, strength building, improving flexibility, and sometimes relaxation, I always think it so important to emphasize that the physical aspect of yoga is really just a very small part of the practice. I know – its GREAT to feel the physical changes in your body when you practice yoga regularly. Who doesn’t love to lose weight, see their body getting stronger, toned, more supple and not to mention being able to physically do things you never thought you’d be able to do. There is a huge sense of satisfaction and reward in that and I don’t want to take away from that element at all. I have personally patted myself on the back a few times for the physical changes that yoga brought to my body– especially during pregnancy – a time when most women have a sense of loss of control over the shape and loss of strength in their bodies.

Looking and feeling physically better is fabulous. But here’s the thing…this is why yoga is so amazing…not only do you look and feel so different – you actually practice things during your yoga that you hardly ever (or never for most of us) get to do elsewhere. You practice attitudes and habits that change your life to a more peaceful and happy place to be.

This is what you really practice when you practice yoga:

1. In yoga you practice ease in body and mind. For most of us, ease doesn’t come ….well, easy. We live a life of tension. We ‘try’ to do lots of things and the act of trying creates tension. We are consumed with thoughts around what we should and shouldn’t do or be able to do, and are constantly pacing and chasing. This manifests in our yoga practice – we come in and try to be flexible. We push ourselves to try to get into positions and postures – still plagued by the thoughts telling us – you should be able to do this – why is this so *&%&^% hard? It’s hard because your body is hard and your mind is rigid. You’re plagued with tension, everywhere.

In yoga you practice to ease up, let go of the tension in your body and in your mind. That’s why you feel so great when you practice yoga. It sets you free.

2. In yoga you practice being curious about your body and your abilities. From a young age we are measured against the developmentally appropriate milestones we are ‘meant’ to reach at certain ages. We are constantly bombarded with – this is what you should be able to do now – this is what good enough looks like, this is what not good enough looks (and feels) like. We learn to look at ourselves in that way. Measuring ourselves against some external source that may well be so far removed from who we truly are, that it really is like comparing apples and pears.

In yoga – once you get out of your mind which constantly harasses you with ‘you should’ and ‘you must’ and ‘you could/couldn’t’, you learn to look at yourself and your body and its abilities with a fresh pair of eyes. Like seeing yourself for the first time you can allow yourself to be curious. The good thing about this is that once you allow yourself to be looked at in this different way – your body just about always blows you away. It surprises you with what it is capable of when you meet it with acceptance and kindness. Your own ability to be open, be different, be fresh, be who you really are, surprises you as its so much better than all the expectations that you place on yourself, which doesn’t really mean anything to you. Being curious, like a child, is a refreshing, and life-altering bonus to what your yoga practice brings to your life.

3. In yoga you practice loving your body and yourself: With the practice of being curious, almost inevitably, comes a new sense of appreciation for what you and your body is really about. As a world of possibilities open up in terms of what you are capable of, both physically and mentally, you learn to appreciate who and what you truly are. Getting to know yourself in a way that is different from how you were ‘brought up’ to think about what is good and bad and correct or not so correct according to society’s rules, is liberating and once the acceptance of the amazing, yet different being that you truly are sets in, there is so much more room to love who you are and what you are about. ‘My body is mine and its not only perfect – its amazing’ is not a common frame of mind in this day and age. In yoga you practice to believe and inhabit that space in your mind.

4. In yoga you practice gratitude: Hand in hand with loving your body and who you truly are, comes a sense of gratitude. You are able to be grateful for your body, how it shows up and functions for you every day – despite years of potentially being beaten up by bad habits or negative thoughts. In yoga you practice functioning from a place of gratitude. Every difficult posture teaches you something else about yourself. These lessons improve your life, it helps you learn about how you can choose to change and improve. You therefore learn to be grateful for the ‘discomfort’ – on the mat and out there in life. The discomfort and the challenges shape you and that’s something to be grateful for. You learn to be grateful when the challenge comes…and grateful when it ends.

5. In yoga you practice being kind: You will often hear sayings in yoga like ‘listen to your body’ and while this is a well-intended saying, it can also serve as a cop- out – a get out of jail card – an opportunity to take it easy. Yoga is definitely not part of the no-pain-no-gain- break-your-body-down-before-you-build-it-up-again-its-cool-to-break-your-body-because-that-means-you’re-working-out-properly mentality. Thankfully. It is also not a place to shy away from that which you really need to face in yourself or in your body. So rather than saying – listen to your body – think ‘honour your body’ – with kindness. Honouring your body puts you in a place of knowing what your body needs, and responding in kindness. Listening to your body might sound like have a big slice of lemon meringue at Mug and Bean (because they are biggest and sweetest), but honouring your body might sound more like stay in side plank for 5 more breaths because you need to wake up the fire meridians in your body to cleanse, detoxify and renew and even transform! You approach your body and its needs with kindness and care. You know this is the only body you have. You know that this body has been there from the beginning and will be till the end. You know that when you love something, you care for it with kindness. This is VERY difficult for most people in yoga to get their heads around, because they are consistently plagued by the mentality of not being good enough, strong enough, flexible enough and resenting themselves and their own bodies for not being able to do things. In yoga you practice the opposite. You practice acceptance, and kindness to yourself – all the time and under all circumstances.

6. In yoga you practice compassion: In order to be kind to your body you have to begin to cultivate the most beautiful quality out there: compassion. We lack compassion so much in our daily lives towards each other, because we lack compassion for ourselves. In yoga you practice being compassionate. Your body is tired today? You’re body is restricted, and even paralysed by tension? You don’t condemn and judge yourself, make yourself out to be less than average. You practice compassion….

Your body has been holding tension for you for years. While you ignored it and pretended it wasn’t happening, your body held onto it for you. Have compassion. Have compassion for yourself. Have compassion and know that everyone out there is fighting and inward battle…it’s not always easy. We all deserve a little compassion.

7. In yoga you practice patience: Yoga postures, and the qualities they aim to instill in each of us who take to the mat, don’t come easy. You will always have good and bad days. You will always with the best of intentions not fully get to where you want to be. You will fall out, your mind will wander, you will get angry when you ‘should’ feel compassion and you will get frustrated by slow progress. Certain postures may elude you for years and you will doubt yourself. In yoga you practice patience with yourself. When you learn to be patient with yourself you become patient in general. The world needs more patience.

8. In yoga you practice being present: any good yoga class invites you to take the time to become still and present. 99.9% of our daily lives is spent either in the future – worrying, or in the past, contemplating. Neither of those (the future or past) serves you, as the past is gone and the future might never happen. Being present is a place of freedom, of joy, of pure and utter bliss and release from tension. Because it is NOW – it is what it is – free from anticipation, regret, or worry. It just is what it is. It’s a funny thing to get your head around and we spend years and years trying to learn and appreciate the value of staying present. In yoga you have a great opportunity to be present. Through connecting with your breath and giving yourself permission to let go of everything else out there, you connect to the present moment. Freedom. You begin to see where your mind goes when it does wander. You begin to feel what it feels like, when you do let go, even for a moment. You create a space free of tension in body, mind and soul for your body, mind and soul to be free to be limitless as they were intended to be.

9. In yoga you practice how you want to be: Bringing your body to stillness and then moving in and out of postures with varying levels of difficulty, and addressing various aspects about yourself, and your life on the mat brings you face to face with what you’re really like. How you respond to challenges, how you respond to failures (perceived or not), and success. What motivates you? Are you driven by what others see in you or can you bring your motivation inwards and be your own driving force in a kind and compassionate way? How do you limit yourself – do you give up before you’ve tried and can you overcome your fear of failure and allow yourself to be vulnerable. In yoga you practice being how you really want to be. A softer, easier, kinder, more compassionate, patient and present person.

Read more:  http://mype.co.za/new/what-do-you-practice-when-you-practice-yoga/34140/2014/02#ixzz3dLaQysHw