One-third way through my 2020 writing challenge and this is my first hobby-related post – atrocious, some might say. But at least, here we are.
I’ve been personally practising yoga quite religiously (almost every day) for the better part of half a decade or so now, mostly for health reasons.
I must confess I didn’t put in a lot of effort into this hobby until about six to seven months ago when I started going for proper yoga classes.
That was the time I realised that anyone (even the most inflexible) can reap the benefits of consistent and purposeful yoga practice.
The location of the practice doesn’t matter, but if the presence of a community gives you motivation to push yourself harder to improve, it’s worth practising in a studio with others.
Of course, that’s not an option now because of COVID-19.
I’m going to share my experience so far as a form of documenting my journey towards a yoga instructor course by mid-2021 while hoping to inspire others who are thinking of taking up yoga.
Brief history of my practice
I’ll document a more detailed history of my yoga practice in a future post, but just to give a brief background, I picked up yoga on a whim in 2014.
I was exercising regularly, mostly running around my neighbourhood for a couple of years until a colleague I met during an internship introduced me to the idea of yoga.
Needless to say, I always thought yoga was a female thing – men who practised yoga were less masculine and my slim stature already “made” me feminine-looking enough.
I didn’t need to appear even more feminine by doing yoga, so I just chucked that idea away.
After a few months, however, I realised running was putting a lot of stress on my right ankle, which I injured some years back, making running rather painful.
My then girlfriend (now wife) just thought I should try yoga and pilates as an alternative form of exercise. I never turned back since.
Apart from the many benefits of yoga known to all of us, I’ve developed a special connection with yoga in a way I never felt before with other activities such as running, swimming, or any sports I had played in the past.
Perhaps it’s how yoga connects the body to the mind and spirit (I’m not a religious person at all, though), giving a sense of inner peace invaluable in today’s world, especially so in these trying times.
While practising yoga, although work and stress can randomly pop into my mind, acknowledging its presence and focusing on my breath and intention melts the worries away.
I seldom feel this state of “flow” (yoga pun intended there) with other physical activities, only when I was addicted to online gaming – I would forget all my troubles and worries.
I wouldn’t be surprised if more people pick up yoga during the stay-home orders imposed in most countries now.
I know people around me who have started some form of yoga or yoga-inspired stretches and exercises.
I believe it has helped many grapple with the reality that is in front of them right now.
Staying true to the commitment
Despite the current situation, I find myself even more committed to deepening my practice, setting aside time and putting in my full attention into any session.
Whether it’s a routine 30-minute morning stretch, a 60-minute Zoom session focusing on Ashtanga, or a screen-sharing Skype call to end the day with some headstand drills or a follow-along YouTube video, I make damn sure I do it without fail.
And I’m seeing improvements every single week, albeit miniscule. But that’s how everything in life is, isn’t it? Small, incremental improvements amount to a life-changing transformation.
Yoga started out as a hobby just for me to stay active, but it’s become so integrated into my life that I’ll feel like something is missing if I skip a day or two (especially if I’m overseas).
As with most hobbies, I’m slowly joining yoga communities from studios and such, hopefully building new and meaningful connections with different people but united by the same commitment.
I’m looking forward to the day we can all return to yoga studios because as much as Zoom classes are equally beneficial as an in-person class, the energy you get from sharing the same space with people is different.
Maintaining your hobby
As adults, we forget the joy of maintaining a hobby – it seems so distant because the word is often associated with school clubs and such, something meant for kids and teenagers who have lesser responsibilities.
Hobbies are for everyone – there’s something for every age and financial situation. It’s just a matter of finding what heals your mind and body.
For me, it’s yoga. For you, perhaps it’s something less physical and more intellectual or even spiritual.
As long as it gives you some time to heal your mind, away from the everyday worries of shouldering responsibilities at work or at home, you’ll reap the benefits.
We all deserve to do something we like that adds value to just ourselves or hopefully, others around us as well.