Never Apologize by Erica Rodefer Winters
'I have learned a bajillion meaningful things from my yoga practice through the years. But nothing has been more valuable than when something finally clicked, and I realized it was OK to be completely, unapologetically me. It was so liberating when I simply stopped trying to people please and just started to speak and live what was true for me. That means embracing all my little quirks and flaws instead of hiding them. Can’t do Scorpion Pose? Who cares? Have a sweet tooth? We’re all working on something. That little freckle on my toe? It adds character (and gives me a point to direct my drishti during Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana).
That’s just the beginning.
I’ll never apologize for taking Child’s Pose when I need to rest.
I’ll never apologize for being a beginner at something—that means there’s room to learn.
I’ll never apologize for asking for clarification when something doesn’t make sense to me.
I’ll never apologize for asking for help when I need it.
I’ll never apologize for taking care of myself—even if that means saying no to obligations that don’t uplift me.
I’ll never apologize for saying what I mean, and meaning what I say.
I’ll never apologize for seeking contentment instead of upward mobility.
I’ll never apologize for choosing presence over planning.
I’ll never apologize for failing when I know I’ve done my best.
I’ll never apologize for rewarding myself with a cupcake when I’ve done my best.’
Love the truthfulness of this article from the Yoga Journal Blog. Never apologies for being yourself and the actions it takes in order to do so.
Its crazy to think that Yoga has only really been a big part of my life for a year! A little over a year ago I went to a free tasters class at Bristo Yoga here in Edinburgh and it was like finding a little piece of a puzzle that I didn’t know I was missing, I fell instantly in love.
I feel so happy and blessed to have found something that nourishes me physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is the tool that has brought together all the areas of my life that I previously found so hard to balance. I guess this is why yoga means fusion and unison.
It has caused me to re-evaluate my priorities and the way I lead my life. It has brought me closer to my passion for a holistic approach to living, the importance of health and being close to nature. It has heightened my awareness in my internal sensitivity and wider environmental spectrum for the impact we all have on the planet. It has exposed me to the ethics of Speciesism, the belief that we should treat all living organisms; human, animals and nature equally. Which is what ultimately made it easy for me to finally decide to become a Pescetarian, (a diet that includes seafood but not the flesh of other animals) an idea I have been flirting with for about 2 years. But most of all, it has just made it clear to me that these are my beliefs, the ‘gut feeling’ I have about the way I want to live.
This great passion has pushed all my boundaries and taken me to extraordinary places in both a metaphorical and literal sense. The time I spent inThailandthis summer practising and learning about yoga was a life changing period of my life. My time there really brought such peace and much needed serenity. It stirred all my emotions, mostly positive but also the challenging negative doubts that we tend to push to the back burner. It was a period of self reflection, I don’t think I have ever been so truthful with myself or exposed to so much honesty from others. We may as well been practising naked because there were no lies in that yoga hall. Three thoughts always came to me as I prepared to practise, ‘come as you are’, ‘leave your ego at the door’ and ‘right here, right now’. These are principals I have since tried to live by.
The challenge is trying to keep this balance after returning to ‘reality’ and the highs and lows of daily life. It is tough and a lot harder than I thought it would be. There are temptations at every turn to give up this path I have found but I know in the pit of my being that to turn my back on yoga would be to shut a part of myself away. In times of self doubt I need to remember to breath, take a moment and remember that life doesn’t need to be complicated or stressful. Life is what we make it and happiness is the ultimate goal. Through the practise of yoga, I have found that. This is a happiness that does not rely on any thing or any one; this is a pure and serene self happiness.
So in the first week of my yoga course, we had roughly 3 lectures a day which means almost 18 lectures a week! Usually my dyslexic mind would have packed up and gone home by now but not here. I wish all classrooms where like these ones where everyone is comfortably situated on yoga mats on the floor. It makes for a nice change to the uncomfortable chairs we are used to being educated in, which not only ruin your posture but also your concentration.
It feels so good to be learning again! I have felt semi brain dead since uni finished. Even though I continue to read and learn about things that interest me, it feels great to be taught by enthusiastic teachers and activate these brain cells.
My mind is bursting with all this new yogic knowledge which I can’t wait to put into action.
Never stop learning, the world is your classroom!
A while ago I decided that to me yoga was much more than just a class I attended 3 or 4 times a week. It made me reflect and rethink how I wanted to lead my life. It was then that I decided to make a change, I was going to do something with this curiousity.
I started reseaching and found a month long first level intensive yoga course in Koh Phangan, Thailand that seemed tailored to what I was searching for; an indept look at the fundimentals of yoga. What better way to start than to start right at the beginning.
With that, I booked the course and the hotel which has brought me to the hammock I am swinging in as I write this.
Many people couldn’t understand why I would want to travel alone to an unfamiliar place to do yoga. The most common thing I was asked was ‘aren’t you scared?’ and ‘wont you get lonely?’. Obviously I was a little terrified, but in that nervous/excited kind of way when you do something for the first time! Being alone should never be a lonely thing, if you can’t be comfortable and spend time alone exploring yourself and who you are then you will always have a lonely existence of trying to find other things and people to define you. Instead of being afraid of the chances I take, I am much more frighten of the opportunities I might miss.
In a years time I will *hopefully* be graduating uni, in search for a job with the realities of ‘real adult life’ slapping me in the face. In many ways this might just be my last summer of freedom! Which is even more incentive to do something worth while.
I must thank my family and parents who have been incredibly supportive and encouraging. My boyfriend too, even though at first he had his reservations about having to spend more time apart, he eventually came around and said ‘I will be really pissed off now if you don’t do it because of me’. How wonderful it is to have such lovely people in my life :).
Part of me is still in disbelief that I am here! Too often do dreams get tied up in the webs of daily life and not become reality. I am so grateful and glad that this one did :).
xx A xx
The lovely accommodation.
Yummy food with lots of veggie and vegan options to try!
Paradise Bliss x
I was warned that the first few days of practice is the ‘detox period’ but maaaann do I feel it. Its a strange correlation as I feel my mind become clearer as my body release its toxins making me feel heavy and sluggish. My body aches, muscles I didn’t know I had ache! I would have though the pain would hinder me from doing more poises but everyday as I step into the yoga room, with its warm and comforting atmosphere, the pains and aches seem to fall away as I am overcome with a determination to keep going. Only after 2 days of this morning practice, I have done things I never thought imaginable such as holding my entire body weight off the floor in lotus (crossed legged position), band bends and shoulder stands. You progress so quickly, it actually blows my mind! The teachers all seem to know a secret we don’t as they come over to adjust you in a way that motivates you to solider through. It seems they know better than we do of what we are capable off. Such an example is when my teacher lead me through shoulder stands, saying things like ‘do it, because you can’ like some how she knew my body was capable of what my mind didn’t think possible. It really enforces the idea that 'anything is possible if you just believe', we all have such powerful strength locked within us waiting to be unleashed. ♥
This week I embarked on my first morning mysore yoga practice*. I felt my teacher, Susan has been silently urging me to do it for months but I let the usual excuses get in the way. ‘Im too busy with college work’ ‘Im too tired’ ‘8am? your crazy’ but now that I am done with college for the year (goodbye third year!) I can finally have some ‘me time’ to focus on yoga, something I have grown to love.
Today’s class was so different to normal classes, where we normally move in unison, following a routine of moves demonstrated by the teacher, this was a much deeper and more personal practice. My teacher would come over, instruct me on a few moves and then move around the room helping others as I attempted the routine myself. With all the heaters on full blast, the walls were sweating and the energy in there was incredible. People from all levels in this warm enclosed space for the purpose of practicing yoga, what ever it was that motivated them to come. Time seemed to stand still as I practiced the Ashtanga routine to the best of my ability. By the time I had finished, I could hardly believe it had only been an hour and a half! It felt like an eternity there doing back bends and downward facing dogs! I didn’t want it to end as I lay in shavasana (the rest period) feeling balls of warm energy in my hands.
Rediscovering yoga has been the best thing about this year. In my teens I dabbled with it here and there but looking back now I can see that I was too selfish and immature to grasp the full concept of yoga.
My dad was really the one that first ignited this curiosity. He moved to Hong Kong from England when he was 23 (only 2 years older than I am now) where he became interested in the ways of the East. He was taught by the guru, Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi the founder of Sahaja Yoga, which is centred on meditation and self realization. From the stories he used to tell me, he would described her as ‘something else’, a unique spiritual individual with an extremely powerful presence.
I never met her but I remember her smile and ‘the strange red dot’ on her forehead from the ring and necklace my father wears as a tribute.
I didn’t try to follow in my fathers foot steps, it just kind of happened on its own in my own way.
Last October, there was a free taster lesson at Bistro Yoga School in Edinburgh, I went along with a few friends for a laugh and that was it, I was hooked. What started as a weekly practice became 3 or 4 times a week as I found I began to crave yoga. At times when I felt lost in the superficial subject of fashion, yoga made sense and grounded me as I felt I was doing something with a purpose. Yoga isn’t just a form of exercise; it is about connecting your mind to your body and ultimately is a way of life. But I can’t pretend to know what I am talking about as I am so early on in my practise. It takes years, DECADES, to master. All I can say is that I am so glad that I have found time and room to bring yoga back into my life. I feel this is only the beginning of a long love affair. ♥
* What is meant by Mysore Style Ashtanga Yoga?
Ashtanga Yoga is traditionally taught in what is called ‘Mysore style’, named after the city of Mysore, India where Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (affectionately known as Guruji to his students) has been teaching this practice for over 70 years. A Mysore style class differs from most yoga classes in that the students all appear to be doing their own thing and the only sound in the room is deep breathing. In fact, everybody is following the particular asana series that they are working on, most likely primary or second series, in the same precise order of asanas but to their own individual breath rhythm. Basically it is a self practice done in a group setting. The teacher, or teachers, are walking around the room helping everyone on a one-to-one basis, adjusting or assisting the asanas and generally helping the students to do, and understand, the practice in a way that is most beneficial to each student’s body and circumstances.
A photographer gets people to pose for him. A yoga instructor gets people to pose for themselves.
downward facing dawwwg