French Mum, humanitarian, restless explorer and doer on sabbatical in Cebu (Philippines): one Attila in each arm, I am exploring the “toddlers safe” corners of the region, while trying to keep some room for Me.
When I enrolled to Pascale Wettstein’s Yoga Teacher Training (YTT), it was all for shaping my body. I had no idea I would learn so much about shaping my life …
I have started to appreciate the meaning of “being present” while practicing yoga poses. After all the hours I spent studying anatomy, learning about lengthening, contracting and stretching my muscles, feeling the flow of energy in our postures .. No way I could still practice on auto pilote mode anymore!
Session after session, I have become aware of the essential role of my breathing, the importance of being mindful in all my movements. My practice changed from being a mere work out to a very interesting work in..
Our teacher liked to challenge us on how we could apply what we learnt on the mat in our daily life. That’s when I truly realised the meaning of being present in everything we are doing. It’s not about how much time we have. It’s about making the best of the time we have.Quality . Like not looking at our phone when we are together, slow down, do one thing at a time, trying not to interrupt each other (too much). There is a “Drop me here! It’s family time” box in our living room for Iphones to rest on evenings and weekends. Guess what, since we have created or this Nowifi time, the kids are far less demanding and have such an easier time to go to bed ..
Sky above, earth below, peace within
Practicing mindfulness meditation was not the easiest thing to me.
My mind is restless, and meditating without visualising was so difficult for weeks! Our teacher would reply to my complains with her cryptic “do your practice and all is coming” ..
So I practiced; and practiced. And one day it made sense! I had finally understood that meditating was recharging. That my monkey mind could be tamed (for a little while at least). There is no such thing as “seeing the light” or “feeling the total opening of my crown chakra”. To me, meditating is about reloading, stilling my mind and simply be.
2. Yoga is not about being bendy!
Asana (yoga postures) are only one of the 8 limbs of yoga. Yoga is about exploring and discovering who you are (peeling the layers of the onions, as our teacher would say). Being kind to yourself so you can be kind to others too. Be sincere, be healthy without pushing you to your limits.
During the training, we were assigned to practice one of the yamas for a week. I asked the kids to pick up one we could all work on. While I was explaining them the meaning of “ahimsa” (non violence), my 5 yo daughter asked “is yelling being violent?”
I asked her how she was feeling when someone was yelling at her, “I want to yell even louder because it hurts my ears and I feel like protecting me”. So we had the answer. We decided to work on being calmer, and stop “yelling” at each other when we didn’t have all we wanted right away.
(Let me precise that I my kids call yelling when I raise my voice. I call it “motivational speaking for the selective listener”. Still, I accepted the challenge)
What an inspiring experience it was to realise our patterns, to take deep breaths when we felt we were getting impatient (even my 4 yo son did it!) and lower our voice to express our feelings. It was pretty challenging the first days, because it takes so much time to stop, explain and to simply listen. It’s still work in progress but I love the soothing effects it has on all of us.
3. The power of intention
At the beginning of the class, Pascale often asks us to “set our intention“. Meaning bringing our attention and awareness to a quality we wish to cultivate for our practice on and off the mat. It could be patience, gratitude, being in the moment, being aware of your breath, strong, peaceful … I love this little practice because I feel it echoes far after I step off my mat. It takes my practice into the world. When I choose beauty for instance, I feel I appreciate much more all the little mundane things around me.. Sometimes I choose to dedicate my practice to someone, and it feels like sharing energy.
An intention is not a goal, as yoga is not about perfection. It’s again about being mindful, and keep on progressing. Yoga to me is such a powerful vehicle of change. Through the toning of my body and my mind, I build strength and I start to believe in my own potential.
4. Learning to balance
In philosophy of yoga, we learnt about “Shtira and Sukha” – Steadiness and ease. The yoga posture should be steady, firm and stable, yet also comfortable, light and delightful.
If you are too “shtira”(strong) you need to improve your flexibility, to literally bend more. Too “sukha”(flexible) people should work on be more stable and grounded. On and off our mat, it is all about finding balance between flexibility and strength.
I especially liked this little introspective exercise: “What do I need to do in my yoga practice to break this pattern, to balance myself more? And can I do the same in my life?”
5. Work hard, dream big, Savasana often!
Again”Do your practice, and all is coming” . I could have read all the books and collect all the glam yoga quotes, I would not have learnt anything if I hadn’t been practicing very regularly.
I have been working hard but I also learnt to calm down and let it go at the end of a class. To release the pressure, to relax my body and eventually clear my mind.
Savasana is often considered as being the most challenging pose in yoga because we are so used to be in motion that we can not comprehend this “corpse pose”. But truly relaxing helps us absorb both the energising and relaxing benefits of our practice. As a yogi. As a parent. As a worker …
And eventually, yoga taught me that poses come with many variations. Be a dedicated student yet explore, be creative and listen to your heart. Most of all, keep on having fun while learning.
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