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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Chen

Those Lessons Yoga Teaches Me

Updated: May 8, 2021

Yoga enters my life when I was in a slump few years ago. I am not born strong nor flexible. Therefore, in the beginning, I only treated yoga as a chic and relaxing exercise to train my body. At the end, however, I am so surprised to have chances adventuring into different yoga- Hatha, Sivananda, Ashtanga- in various places and meet beautiful souls on the road. They enrich my life in an unexpected way, and yoga philosophy even inspires me on how to view every moment in life!

What have I learned?

Enjoy pain as much as joy

Yoga practice is a sweet and bitter process. The sweetness is unbeatable once one learns how to manage a posture. Before that, pains, injuries and sweat are common occurrence. Those moments are frustrating- either one has to step back to take a pause, or the practice has to be carried on regardless the soreness- neither is pleasant! When depressed with one of these set back moments recently, I was reminded by my mentor that life being a mixture of sweetness and bitterness. No matter how much we love one over the other, altogether they season life with a rich taste. (From Karma point of view, she also mentioned that we have certain quota for sweetness and bitterness in life. The pains we have during yoga practice can be deducted from the bitterness account, which makes our elder life easier. I find this saying so beautiful and inspiring!) It also resembles the recent rising “eccentric hybrid” fashion- ugly chic, androgyny & athleisure. They are fun and attractive from the intense, mysterious and refreshing mixture of varied inspirations.

Focus on yourself: respect your limits, stay humble but keep a fun spirit

It is hard not to compare ourselves with others- especially being competitive is always encouraged to survive in this world. Being not a strong person physically, I take longer time to manage some postures that require strength. There are few times I get injured badly after pushing myself too hard. They are painful yet precious lessons to remind myself that we are all built differently. Only respect who we are- strengths and weaknesses- and keep the practice with fun attitude and awareness, we could progress on the right course and eventually all comes. This attitude also applies to my self-discovery to personal style. After uncountable experiments with embarrassing outcomes, I finally realize that the best style can only be built on top of understanding, accepting and appreciating who I am. (See the full story “Part II: What Is Your Personal Style?” below)

Emptiness matters

Full backbend is one of the challenging postures for me: I have a hard time to lift myself up with straight arms! Aside from lacking of strong arms and open chest, my teacher told me that holding too many thoughts in mind also block the practice. The beautiful thing I learn from yoga is, all postures can be done as long as one knows how to leverage the space in body. The space can be created through breathing. When focusing on breath, one stays at the present and can always achieve the posture in the unexpected moment- which is sometimes faster than one thought! I have fully experienced this theory upon building my freelance image consulting business in these 5 months. Even knowing that starting up business needs time and patience, with the habit to always drive for efficiency from my previous training, I become anxious and cranky easily whenever things do not go my way. In one depressing afternoon, I was too exhausted and thus decided to release myself from all thoughts. In between several deep breaths, I felt this emptiness, which led me to the instinct and all of a sudden several good idea just popped up in my clear mind. Voilà!

The practice to full backbend

Take care of your body and your body will take care of you

To maximize the benefit of yoga practice, body and mind need to work together. I have had few unpleasant experience after my practice- those happened either after I overate, ate/slept badly, or practiced with a wandering mind. It applies the same to the pursuit of beauty- some people believe in the expensive products or just follow the latest fashion trend. Yet to look great and eventually age gracefully also requires a strong consciousness to body- how you respect and pamper it- and mind- if you are passionate and positive.

New challenges always wait ahead: be open-minded to embrace all encounters

Every now and then I get compliments from people on how good I am in doing yoga, I always get blushed. It is true that I have made some good progress in these years, thanks to the good teachers and my hard practice. However, the better I get to manage postures, I also realize more challenges and learning being always ahead! Therefore, I gradually learn to let go the stress and be open-minded. Sometimes when stuck somewhere in the practice, I take a pause, talk to people and learn from their experience. Or I just run away from my comfort zone, exile myself to somewhere alien. I enjoy meeting people around the world, listening to their sharing on personal stories and life value. Seeing the world through my own eyes always inspires me and makes me more open-minded to differences. This practice provides me a positive energy to adapt to the fashion world- creative and dynamic, beautiful and quirky, talented and crazy, and nothing is perpetual. Namaste!


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