My prevalent form of exercise is Hot yoga where I undertake a 90 minute session of 26 postures, twice, in 40 degrees. For someone who is not athletic or favoured to exercise, this can be quite challenging. Although the practice has become much easier and more tolerable from consistent attendance, it can still sometimes be a chore to motivate myself enough to attend classes. Ideally, I attend 3 times
The challenge lies both in the performance of the postures and in having to practice them in a room full of people at a temperature of 40 degrees. The 90 minute session includes a 1 hour standing, balancing set of postures, followed by 30 minutes of ‘on the ground' strengthening postures. The teachers often refer to the practice as Moving Meditation. We, the students, are constantly reminded to breathe and to keep focused, so much so that we won't blink an eye or fall out of our postures if the person in front of us does so.
The practice yields great physical realignment, detoxification as well as mental discipline. I have learnt that I must practice at my pace whilst resolving to be present and mindful of what the moment requires. It is not easy to achieve this when thoughts of obligations, tasks and other matters keep intruding at times. However, with commitment and focus my ability to concentrate in a steam room of 40 degrees whilst standing on one leg with the other behind and over my head, is developing.
I have also accepted that the practice is not a competition and I need not be concerned if my neighbour is more advanced than I am. Neither do I crave or need the teacher to recognise me. In fact if I could practice without being noticed or observed that would suit me, yet, it may not fully benefit me. If I wish to improve my practice I need to be made aware of my mistakes. When I am opened to being corrected then I find that the postures become easier to perform and the session is more fulfilling.
The physical body alignment may differ from day to day and this can affect the nature of any yoga practice. This has taught me to honour my physical body variations daily and to move with its flow, whilst efforting to perform to my optimal capacity on any one day. In other words I do not use my physical body discomforts as an excuse, but instead, use my yoga practice to re align and strengthen my weaker areas whilst holding the resolve of MY PERFECTION in my mental body. I have trained myself to project and expect ease of performance.
Why am I sharing all of this with you? There are two reasons. Firstly, to draw an analogy with how we might choose to approach life from day to day, and secondly, to advocate a way of life that will counter every base vibration, lower frequency thought, event, circumstances or people that may enter our awareness daily.
For the majority, life is by no means a walk along a red carpet fringed with gold. In fact, it is more like a hike on a steep hill where we battle blustery winds and poor visibility, whilst trying to keep grounded and positive that we will eventually reach our destination without too many casualties. It takes great courage to face life on a daily basis, and motivation to properly engage with life, just like the courage I often need to actually mobilise myself to attend hot yoga with the uncertainty of knowing how my body will perform on that particular day or respond the excessive heat. The temperature is high enough to dissuade anyone from getting out of bed or leaving home to battle with that heat. Likewise, people can become very discouraged when each day they awaken to a mountain of concerns or problems. When we have to face the heat of life, being the cares and risks of worldly living, the initial instinct is to avoid them or hide away, instead of facing them head on and being singed by disappointment, scorched by fear and consumed with anxiety and worry. We have to embrace life without excuses, and face the heat head on, knowing that it is impossible to be burnt if we follow through with determination and mindfulness.
During my yoga practice many of my fellow students find great difficulty in facing the heat and often sit down during the postures contorted with discomfort and breathlessness. However, they eventually stand up again and persevere. It is in this way that we must face life. There are times when we become overwhelmed by life's vagaries but must know that it is acceptable to pause and recover our breath before moving ahead again. This is far more fruitful than not getting started at all, or avoiding life.
Life becomes a balancing act and for many it is like walking on a tight rope, where to fall could lead to disaster. It is no different in my yoga practice where losing concentration during a balancing posture could, result in a fall. However, falling does not necessarily spell disaster. As long as we do not stay ‘fallen' and in a state of victim hood we can quickly regain the posture and work on our balance. After all, maintaining a state of balance is crucial to our existence on this earth. Sustaining a state of balance is the Master's way,
I cannot master a yoga posture without consistent practice which requires me to extend myself more and more in each session. In the same way we cannot master ourselves in this physical world without moving beyond our comfort zone and being willing to take a chance on discovering and achieving our potential.
We live in a competitive society where people constantly compare themselves with others or are being compared with others. This can be de-motivating if we constantly live in the feeling of not being good enough. This in itself could inhibit us from achieving our fullest potential. One of the most beautiful gifts we can give to ourselves is to love ourselves unconditionally. We can then lovingly accept where we are and chart our path with patience. It is important for us to take our focus of another or others and concentrate wholeheartedly on ourselves, and how we intend to develop and achieve our personal goals. When I attend to my yoga practice in a room of maybe 30 people where half of them are much more accomplished than I am, my level concentration ( for the most part) is such that I often find myself in the room alone as I go into a light trance and just focus on one thing. This result in a near perfect posture performed with ease. We have to take our attention of others and focus it solely on ourselves. Only then can we make the necessary correction with or within ourselves to achieve self-mastery.
In my yoga class we are not meant to leave the room until the entire session is over. There have been a few students who could not tolerate the heat and exited the room to sit outside. In life we are not meant to exit it until our time is up. If we choose to ‘sit out' in this life we will still have to return to take the classes again at some point. Why postpone lessons when we can learn them now and graduate to more advanced experiences. Our greatest challenges can led to the unfolding of our spiritual nature, the development of character, and bring us into alignment with our inherent power. To dodge those challenges is to deprive ourselves of knowing our TRUTH and the greatness that this TRUTH can express should we find the courage to allow it