Updated: Dec 21, 2021
My journey is ever-evolving but I remember finding it too boring...
You may find yoga slow and boring like I did back in the day or consider yoga a tool to handle daily stressors - no matter where you are at, I hope my journey on the mat gives you an insight into the possibilities that the practice provides for self-exploration. Maybe you can relate or maybe your own practice is far more evolved than mine - whatever it is, I hope that there is a bit of resonance or curiosity in the ways your practice an unfold or even begin.
Phase 1: Yoga is Slow & Boring
But one fine morning , I decided to give it a try. Part of what got me to my first yoga class was wanting to live my new value of being open-minded. Around that time, I had started to notice that my beliefs, interests and the things I did for fun or even fitness were getting too rigid and habitual. It was time to learn new things, savour brand new experiences, create space to have my ideas challenged and get fresh insights about the world. Trying yoga in spite of finding it boring (from whatever little experience I had in school) was my way of practicing more open-mindedness.
Phase 2: Experiencing Doubt To Finding Motivation
After 4-5 classes, I proclaimed ‘yoga is not working’. I figured a 60 mins sesh of running would make me burn more calories than a yoga class. Am I wasting time?
But then, I started to notice the muscular strength and flexibility of some of the 'advanced' practitioners in the classroom. I learned that they only did yoga (mostly bikram or power) to keep themselves strong and lithe. Just seeing them do mind-boggling arm balances and Chaturangas as if they do it in their sleep inspired the daylights out of me.
It’s like one of those moments when you realise that you don’t have to have animal meat to be the world’s strongest dead weight lifter.
The revelation that Yoga can burn serious calories and build as much muscle strength in the body as lifting weights gave me brand new yoga goals. And a new motivation to stick to the practice for longer..
Phase 3: Finding a renewed sense of Self-Confidence through my Mat
As my practice gained momentum, I found a renewed sense of self-confidence. I started to ask for more challenging projects at work, I started to become more assertive in my personal relationships and I started to procrastinate less and follow through on my projects more.
In hindsight, it makes sense that yoga boosted my confidence as doing hard things and getting better at it often does. First up, I started to feel better and stronger in my body; from being utterly absent-minded to getting a bit more mindful improved, I learned how to notice and improve my self-talk...the days I practiced in the morning before heading to work were noticeably more productive than other days.
Phase 4: Losing momentum to finally overcoming burnout through Yoga
At the peak of my burnout, when it became very clear to me that the way I was working was not working, I re-introduced Yoga into my life. My life-circumstances were such that I was working 16 hours a day and could only take 5 minutes on the daily to spend time on my mat. But 5 minutes yoga I did. I speak about how to take time for yoga during periods of intense busyness here in this blog: https://www.juzbiyoga.com/post/how-to-make-time-for-yoga-when-overwhelmed-with-deadlines-and-demanding-home-life
Burnout thrives when you push harder no matter the cost and its worst enemy is self-care.
Even worse, when the self-care replenishes all dimensions of one's' self - physical, emotional, spiritual such as yoga. Again in hindsight, what I was doing with 5 minutes of yoga a day was allowing the domino effects of small wins to build the life I live today.
Here's a bit about the Domino Effect:
In 1983 physicist Lorne Whitehead discovered that while dominoes can knock down lots of other dominos but that can also topple dominoes 50% larger than themselves. Domino #17 while taller than the Empire State Building, would topple over, brought down by a 2 inch domino. Which is to say that in order to make big changes, we simply need to start small and allow dominoes to fall.
I was taking little steps that propelled me to make giant leaps in my practice.
Phase 5: Getting back in the groove.
Overtime my 5 minutes practice became a 20 mins session and then I build it up to 60 mins. (Of course there are days when I cannot fit in 60 minutes, but I still find time and space to step on the mat no matter what).
This phase of returning back to a consistent practice was really when my love for yoga deepened.
Here are few of things that shifted for me:
A consistent practice helped me manage my mood, energy and time effectively and has had the maximum effect on overcoming burnout.
I learned how to explore asanas (yoga postures) with a sense of curiosity and non-judgement which then I started to apply to other things off the mat
I increased my emotional resilience or the 'ability to bounce back' in the face of adversity.
I started to learn how to dial down the negative inner talk, move with intention and surrender
From trying to perform difficult poses to simply enjoying the journey, I finally understood that it’s not about mastering a particular asana but who we become in the journey towards getting there.
Phase 6: Becoming a Yoga Teacher
It took me a while to consider yoga as a full-time career. I was trying different things and figuring out what could work until I saw a 'Yoga Teacher Training' course at my favourite studio, being taught by my favourite teacher. That's when I had my very own 'aha' moment. I had just quit my job and had intentionally given myself some white space and freedom to do nothing for a couple of months. I believe that this period of unstructured time often leading to boredom had everything to do with me finding my calling. The value of boredom - is a blog for another day.
Here are the top three reasons why I became a teacher:
1. Since Yoga helped me recover from burnout, I knew this practice worked and I could help many busy women leaders and corporations manage their individual and collective moods, energy & well-being effectively. In other words, I realized that making an impact in people's’ life in a visceral way and being in service to others was what gave my life true meaning and purpose.
2. As an amateurish but VERY enthusiastic theatre actor, your local neighborhood dancer and someone with a natural inclination towards ‘teaching’, I knew I was leveraging my natural gifts in a line of work that felt rewarding.
3. I knew that I want to be a lifelong student of yoga. Being a teacher meant that I had very little excuse for not staying committed to the practice.
What I love the most about yoga is that it prioritizes one's' own lived experience of the practice as the best and most reliable source of knowledge. My experience of finding self-confidence, resilience and joy through my physical practice was a combination of the felt experience as well as my growing knowledge of the 5000 yrs. old yoga philosophy.
When physical postures are practiced with an awareness & understanding of the yoga philosophy, there is a renewed sense of discovery & depth to the practice.
Currently, I am trying to deepen my own practice, using asana as a tool to unlearn conditioned way of living and grow in self-awareness.