A journey of thoughts.
Thank you to my guest author, Lily Noova. Lily writes about her experiences with personal development, including this post about why and how she now regularly incorporates yoga into her life.
I started practicing yoga five years ago, years after I had been diagnosed with a problem in my spine that caused many other problems with my neurotic system. Ten years ago, as a teenager I could not even think of exercising every day and standing in some stupid poses for several minutes. I was advised to pick up some lessons on dancing or at least take evening fitness classes a few times a week. But it was impossible to think about. As a teenager I had enough frustration in my life to occupy my mind, and such things as health was put on the back burner. I thought thinking about health was for the elderly.
The permanent pain I had in my back (shoulders and rib cage area) did not allow me to live a fulfilled life. I needed to start working, find a job, and be productive. But because of the pain and constant tension in my back, muscles, and pinched nerves, I could not sleep properly. Therefore, I couldn’t live life properly.
I was waking up in the middle of the night unable to breathe, scared, and hoping every time that it was not a stroke or heart attack. You start understanding how miserable your existence is when you are scared to take a deep breath because doing so might cause a strange pain that will grasp you again and not let you move.
I do not like group activities and that is why I did not start attending advised fitness classes in the first place. That’s also why gyms are not an option for me at all. I decided that I could practice yoga myself. The Internet just started back then, so my first attempt at getting a bunch of exercises came from a book I bought in a local store. Was I excited? No, I was frustrated. I could not hold, even for ten seconds, a simple pose. My muscles were sore, I felt frustrated, and hated myself even more. I put the book aside and was not considering returning to it.
A week after my first attempt I looked at the book again. The pain was still there; my life was not going to change if I was not going to do so. I took the book again and decided to be a “loser.” I decided to be a loser for a while so I would become better in time. I picked one of the easiest poses and tried it for three minutes per day for the next two weeks. Nothing more. I was not trying to be a monk in a temple; I was not pretending to be someone I could not be. It was just me trying to escape from the constant pain I felt, and doing little steps to improve my condition.
Every time I wanted to give up and stop doing this stupid ritual every day, I started thinking that maybe I am destined to live a life full of pain. I stopped for a moment, right in the middle of my exercise session, looking at my hands lying on my lap and asked myself, what am I doing and why. It was, probably, the first moment I actually questioned myself about what was going on around me and what role I was playing in it. My constant back pain was not just physical. The problem was in me; at the very core of my mind was something else apart from my body, what was constantly in pain, begging me to listen.
I was speechless for a moment. Really, why do I want to get rid of the pain? Because it is annoying and does not give me a chance to live a fulfilled life. However, I had no idea what this “fulfilled life” meant in the first place. I did not like my job, I quit my studies, and was not doing anything that made me happy and could help me to live this fulfilled life. Lack of fulfillment was not “because of the pain”. It was because I did not have fulfillment in the first place.
From time to time, I think about if I had not pushed myself back then to sit down in this uncomfortable position for three minutes for a few weeks. What if I had not realized that the pain was not the reason I did not have the life I wanted – that the reason was because of me? I do not have the answer, of course. And I am not sure if I want to know it.
I just know that the first step was done; I realized the reason and purpose of what I do. I want to live a life I love; I do not want to live in pain. Since that moment, I started trying other exercises and being more curious about what is going to happen next. What kind of thought would come to me today?
Yoga gives strength to your body and harmony to your mind.
It was the next step when I stopped waiting for insights and was just enjoying the process of what I do. Trying meditation for the first time is like visiting theater with a bunch of very loud people on the row behind and in front of you. You do not even see the acting on the scene. Too many things are happening around. I failed so many times trying to stop my thoughts, preventing the constant flow until the moment I just embraced it. It was impossible to fight or try to control; you are just supposed to let it go.
I have come to know my thoughts, my mind, my body, and myself.
In hindsight, these five years were fulfilling. Practicing yoga now three times a week (mostly on weekends) is not a special ritual. It is a nice habit reminding myself every time that there is something more than just physical existence.
About the author: Lily Noova is 26 years old and works in an IT sphere. She loves to spend free time in a constant process of personal development, which includes yoga, writing and illustrating picture books, blogging, and traveling to Europe.