I remember Marc asking me a question when I was clarifying alignments after class, “Why do you practice yoga?”. Of course I wasn’t able to answer that question as it was something to think about when he was driving a point about asanas (postures). Probably got irritated too when I just half-smiled as I’m prone to do when I’m thinking (or overthinking) stuff. Still, it got me thinking – Why was I practicing yoga? Was it because I wanted to do pretty poses to post on Instagram/Facebook/whatnot? Was it because I needed a new hobby? Was it because I had nothing else better to do? Or was it because my friend managed to coerce me to do it?
I struggled with this question and, at times, I still do think about it.
When I first started yoga, it was mostly because my best friend kept asking me to attend it with her. When the studio she was attending finally opened a branch in Makati, she told me that they had a “bring a friend” day during one of the many holidays in the Philippines. So off I went and attended my very first class on a Friday evening – a Vinyasa class (of all things) with JC. Yes, my first yoga class was a somewhat advanced class which I thankfully survived even if I had no idea what 90% of the terms being used in class were!
Before I knew it, I started attending classes, moving from a flexi pass (a set number of classes is purchased and valid for a couple of months) to a 1-month unlimited membership, to an annual pass, which took quite a leap for me.
And I got some freebies to boot when I upgraded my pass!
So why practice?
At first, it probably was because of the need for physical activity. I am a software (IT) engineer and it is typical for me to be in front of a computer at least 8 hours a day, 5 times a week. My only exercise outside of this desk-bound life is badminton and the occasional smattering of swimming. I miss dancing and this was a little bit near that world so I took to it. Besides, it would help me deal not only with the usual aches and pains associated with ageing, it would also help me manage any stresses I put on my body because of my occupation – lower back pains sound familiar, anyone? 🙂
Then my father passed away late last year. That was really difficult for me to deal with and I’m pretty sure that I’m not quite over what had happened. Broken-hearted is an understatement and I cannot put into words just how massive the hole my father left when he died. I remember that the day after he got buried, the first class I attended was Pranayama with Lasse. Being that it’s mostly a breathing (and almost meditation-like) class, it was hard for me and all I could think of was crying right there and then. Still, I had to deal with grief and overcome it, if only to keep myself sane.
Over time, yoga helped me deal with the pain to manageable levels. Alex Crow put it wonderfully when she said that, “Yoga is NOW.” It helps you remember that you are in the now, not in the past, not quite yet in the future. In some ways, yoga became my lifeline to understand life and myself at a deeper level. I had to confront myself with not only what I can do physically, but also mentally. For every pose, do I push myself to go further? Do I hold back? How much further should I go NOW? I know I could do this before, why not now? What’s blocking me? How can I do this? Why can I do this?
So many questions, but it helped me understand myself more, what my limits are, what I am capable of doing. I learned to listen to myself. I learned to appreciate silence that much more and concentrate on myself so that I can relate to others better as well.
I practice yoga because I want to be present, to be in the now.
When I got Urban Ashram’s e-mail greeting me on my first anniversary with the studio, I was surprised. Has it been 1 year already?! And I got a gift –
Thank you, Urban Ashram! Here’s to more years of exploring yoga and life with ‘ya! Cheers! 😀