My Yoga Journey by Stephanie Wong
One of my dearest friends introduced me to yoga. I was going through the worst heartbreak of my life, and she took me to yoga at 6am in the morning. I had no idea what to expect, and my ego was STRONG. As an athlete, I thought it would be so easy and I was very overconfident. I thought all the poses I was doing were great, but looking back on it now (the teacher in me) cringes at all of the misalignments I must have been doing.
I became addicted to it and started going every day. Yoga helped me grieve, let go, learn who I am, defeat a panic disorder and opened me up to accept love and compassion again. After practicing for 2 years, teacher training fell into place. Two more years later, and I am currently in training for my 3rd format of yoga- Sculpt, after Power and Hot Power Fusion.
I would not be the person I am today without yoga, not physically, not mentally, and not spiritually. I am not only healthier, but I am sober, clean, and feel lighter, happier, and more grateful in my everyday life. The five most valuable things I’ve learned from yoga are:
1. You are exactly where you need to be
No matter where you are in your physical or mental practice, everything that has
happened in your lifetime has happened for a reason to lead you to this exact moment in time where you are meant to be and feel and look exactly as you are now. Trust that the universe has not made mistakes. Let go of your desires to look different, to be able to do certain poses, and to be farther along in your practice than you are. Once you accept where you are in the present and forget about others’ deadlines and expectations of you, you will find so much more freedom in your body and mind.
2. Always have a beginner’s mind.
We are always learning. To think that we are not is a manifestation of our ego. When we
stay curious and open to receiving information, we learn and grow so much faster than when we are closed off and think that we are the masters of our crafts. By staying open, you challenge your bodies and minds to new depths, and more often than not exceed your own expectations. There is so much we can learn from each other, whether you’ve been practicing for 8 years, weeks, or days. In my experience, being a beginner is the most fun part of learning a new craft. Who wouldn’t want to go back to that mindset, that everlasting awe and wonder?
3. Let it go.
Do not be afraid to let go. Yoga is an amazing pathway to healing. You may notice that in the beginning of your practice, your body is tight and tenses up in certain poses. That is because our bodies, especially our hips, hold trauma, memories, and feelings deep in our bones. When we use yoga poses (asanas) to create more openness and flexibility in our lives, our bodies literally retaliate by tensing up and holding that pain inside. Use your breath to relax, and notice if any emotions or memories come up when you do. Acknowledge them as if you were sitting on a park bench watching them walk by, and then let them go.
4. Hold Space
Hold space for others, especially strangers that do not align with your views. You cannot assume what another person is feeling or experiencing in their lives. If someone leaves before savasana, or deliberately does not listen to your cues, do not take it personally. They may not know or have felt the benefits of a savasana yet, and are unaware of its powers. Hold space for them to figure their journey out at their own pace. Support them and guide them, but never force them to do something they don’t want to- it may draw them into a completely opposite path. Also hold space for those who are learning, grieving, trying yoga for the first time, and more. We as teachers are here to show the direction of the yoga journey, but it is up to the student to decide their path.
5. Be present and listen
Being present is one of the hardest things for me to do. My mind drifts off easily, and when I’m flowing in yoga it’s easy for me to drown out what a teacher is saying. By being extremely mindful of my listening, I can bring myself back into the present moment and fully absorb what is happening all around me. This is much easier than it sounds, and I am still practicing. Happiness is found in the present moment, and relationships thrive through listening. Rather than being stuck in the past or thinking about the future, give your all to what you’re doing in the present. It’s too late for the past, and the future will happen no matter what you do in the present, so why not give it your 100%?