The number one reason to do yoga

Posted on August 22nd, 2013

Back in Australia I go to a yoga school (Power Living in Bondi Junction) and there’s a wonderful teacher there (Jason) who shares (during his class) that yoga is like life (excuse the woo-woo launch to this…it improves). You start off in child’s position and you end in corpse pose. And in between is the opportunity to….

practice finding the ease amidst the strain.

Image via Favim

Image via Favim

Bam. Wisdom, right there.

In yoga, each pose is about using strength, while at the same time giving in, allowing. It’s strong, but gentle, all at once. This is what we practice. When it’s all strain and grunt, it doesn’t work. You never quite get to that oozie stage where you can glide into poses effortlessly.

And, yes, it’s a practice. In yoga we practice for real life.

Meditation is the same. We practice finding that delicate nexus where we can put in effort and care and strive and push, but do it in a way that’s joyful and soft and gentle and flowing. It’s in that delicate juncture between hard and soft, effort and acquiesce, force and release – in that weightless space – that we find the kind of peace that can really get us through life. When I hit it, that nexus, my spine disappears. I become light and happy. The more I steer myself to this delicate point, the more I can emulate it in real life, such that I can run two businesses, write two books (simultaneously) and find ease in it. No rubbing or jarring. No grit and grind. It comes in little “washes”. Some days I can find it. Others I have to go back to consciously practicing again. Same with yoga.

I’ve done yoga for 21 years now and it’s all been one big, long, sweaty practice.


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  • Hey, parallel thoughts Sarah – I wrote this on my blog earlier this week.

    ‘I have been practicing self-designed yoga for a while now. I am not very good at it, but that’s ok. It is my 15 minutes of feel-good breathing and stretching, whenever I can manage it.

    I have a standing up routine for outdoors (on the end of a pier, or a quite spot in a park) and a lying down routine for the carpet at home.

    My life timetable is so erratic that making a proper class is a major issue. When I did make it to a class, the teacher spent a lot of time correcting my position. It hurt. That isn’t what I wanted, I wanted to enjoy it, not grimace and feel stupid.

    I bought a couple of yoga books – especially two by Tara Stiles (yoga guru to the stars!) and put together my own routine; included positions I like to do and found easy to sustain and generally made me feel good.

    And I do it – at least 3-4 times a week. Badly and awkwardly, but I do it. And I love it.

    Choosing the positions that I love makes me enjoy it totally. I do it when it is quiet, or I do it playing music I love. My time, my choice.

    My yoga and my walking (read … dawdling while daydreaming) make me happy. Riding waves in summer is fun. Dancing to great music (either by myself or with good friends) is good for the soul. Gentle and no pressure.

    I have come to terms with the fact that it doesn’t make me happy to do exercises I don’t like to do – at least not anymore.

    I used to be into the adrenaline rush. I did fun runs, half marathons, triathlons and trained and pushed and motivated myself into every bit of pain.

    Then, I decided .. NO MORE.

    ‘Push ups’ may give you gorgeous arms but they are a chore, not a delight.

    Sprinting up hills may be great for fat burning, but it is not fun.

    Hey life is too short … I will do it my way; gently, relaxingly and happily. Just not gracefully!’


  • Donna

    I like reading about why people love yoga. I’ve done it from time to time but never enjoyed it, never loved it, never ‘got’ it, nor felt any benefit from it like I would from a run or a swim or team sport or Pilates or a good stretch on the floor. If I need to quieten the chit chat in my head or need a lift, I’ve found the endorphin kick only comes from more active exercise or getting out with friends. I love the healthy living and eating that yogis tend to practice, but I can have that regardless. And I get that it’s cool chatting to people from anywhere in the world who also do yoga, having that connection, like a religion. I just don’t get the internal benefit so I figure its just not for me. I’ll just stick to stretching on the carpet.

    Still waiting for my enlightenment.


  • Hi Seona,

    It is an old DVD (like 10yrs old) called “Simply Yoga” by Yolanda Pettinato that I converted to an iPhone video using some cheapo software I downloaded.

    Quite possibly it’s a copyright infringement, but since I haven’t copied the DVD for other people and only use the video myself, I think it’s OK.

    One of my friends uses these YouTube yoga clips to do her daily practice. I haven’t tried them, but she swears by the Detox Flow one. 🙂;community;gift-of-yoga



  • Yes, maybe?! And if we are mindful of how we move in, out and through an inversion (which can be very confronting for a lot of people), we can teach ourselves to stay calm and know that when life gets turned upside down, we can still remain composed, and know that we will find our way through and out of it with the help of that composure.

    Inversions help us to see what things look like from another perspective. They help us not to get stuck …. at looking at the world from just one point of view. And physically they help us to get unstuck in the body – good for constipation, and reversing the fluids in the body that pool around the joints of the lower limbs, ankles, knees, feet etc … they get the circulation flowing to the extremities when practised intelligently!

    If we look at the world through say, our legs in Prasarita Padotonasana (a forward bend we can all give a go – don’t need to be super strong or flexible!) every day, we begin to see that reality is just our perspective, and perhaps we can learn to understand that we each have OUR OWN reality – this is only one of the ways yoga helps to cultivate compassion … next time you’re in an inversion, relax and just see what you see, dont forget to smile!

    Smiles n smooth breathing,
    Li 🙂


  • My absolute pleasure Annie! 😉


  • Oooh good luck with your training!! That’s so exciting!! This will be the start of a beautiful slow reveal … (your life!) … it’s comforting to know you will be sharing your joy & your love with others … that’s what the world needs more of!!
    Yogis UNITE!! YAY!!!
    xo 🙂


  • Ooh yes Katie, leaving smiling is what pulled me in in my early days – sorta freaked me out but I just couldn’t stop smiling … so cool isnt it!! 🙂


  • Hey this is a cool resource! Thanks Nick!


  • This is the sweetest thing to read – I LOVE this: “I didn’t expect it to be so hard, I felt like I was going to die but in a really good way, like an achievement.”

    I heard an interpretation of savasana once … I heard that the Buddhist monks practice savasana as a way to practise for death/dying.

    To practise letting go with ease & acceptance that there is nothing more to be done. So that they can surrender & move forward on to the next life gracefully, creating a smooth, calm entrance to the next life!

    It stuck with me. I don’t know if its true for the monks, but I try to practise savasana that way, to prepare myself for the inevitable, and while I’m living, learn to surrender after my asana practice just for ten minutes or whatever … so that I can start again renewed, when it’s time to sit up.

    Your comment brought that to mind again, thanks Laura! 🙂


  • Lu

    I Love yoga and have been practicing for 8 years or so. I never seem to improve much, but It helps my mind and body so much as I am very inflexible to start with.

    I have trouble with my Left shoulder right now, so have had to take a break. Does anyone have any helpful advise on how to still do yoga with a shoulder injury? The upward and downward dog seems to be an aggravator.

    PS. Love this blog, and your ongoing honesty about your journey. I have quit sugar and gltuen and am a much happier bunny, my excema has gone too.


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