First yoga practice:
Around 2013. It was a Bikram yoga class. I thought I was going to pass out from the heat and it was so sweaty I really didn't enjoy it. I did about 3 classes then gave up for 6 months before I tried again.
I have a few quotes which a think about often. Most of them are from Shakespeare. I'd have to say that my favourite is Polonius' parting advice to Laertes in Hamlet. It can be adapted to all kinds of situations, I often think about it when i'm travelling or in a new environment. It's also relatable to yoga as it's about sticking to your values, aligning your intentions with your actions.
In context, Laertes is about to travel to Paris to start his O.E. and his uncle gives him a set of rules which will help him overcome challenges on his travels. It's quite a long passage with timeless advice like "give every man thy ear, but few thy voice" and "take each man's censure but reserve thy judgement" , they all follow a trend of learning and appreciating experience without compromising yourself, it's the end of the passage that holds the most important message though:
"This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night, the day.
Thou canst not be false to any man. Farewell!, my blessing season this in thee".
Favourite style of yoga:
I am happy with any style, I even enjoy Yin although I have fallen asleep a few times in Yin which is embarrassing when it happens.
I did a bunch of classes overseas, earlier this year which were traditional Hatha. I really enjoyed the contrast. Every class was 1.5-2 hours and you would hold asanas in absolute stillness, sometimes for up to 5 minutes without any movement.
The concept being 'stillness in body builds stillness in mind'. I've taken this idea with me and remind myself of it every time I practice.
Something I realised about 5 years ago is that you can't be good at everything, if you have too many hobbies, you just end up being OK at everything - but if you focus on just a couple things over a long period of time, you can be better than OK. (unless you are a natural born talent, which I am not).
So i focus on three interests and I try to keep a balance between all three. The first is Yoga - which i generally practice 4-5 times a week. This drives my week as I usually practice before work. The second is Guitar (and music in general) which i play every day and acts as a creative outlet. The third is Toastmasters - which i have been doing at the northern club for about 6 years. I started as a means to get better at speaking for my career but it ended up being fun and interesting.
The underlying connection between all three of these hobbies is depth of information and constant learning. Theres enough history and depth within each of these that with prolonged effort, each can turn from a hobby into a life's work.
WHAT YOGA HAS MEANT TO TIM
My reason for taking up Yoga, for the most part is linked to Efficiency. Since I left school, I have pretty much tried all the types of exercise accessible in Auckland City.
Running, Cycling, Circuit Training, swimming, Cross-Fitt, Exercise classes, Boxing. They all have their pros and cons, but for me, none of them are as efficient as yoga.
For example, going for a run is great cardio, but is repetitive and a bit mindless. Cross-fit is a huge mental challenge but I feel like it's too hard on your body and leads to injury.
Yoga is different. Yoga covers all bases and more. Yoga is an all body workout, in which you can practice to your edge every time, but will rarely injure yourself. You can do itanywhere (no need for a bike or a pool), its constantly evolving, as you reach new benchmarks, and set new goals. Another insight is that Yoga as a culture is relatively free of Ego, (which is the enemy of progress). With ego removed, you can spend more time focussing on improving.
On top of these, its also a mental battle for concentration and for me, resembles a kind of "Physical meditation", so although I found Yoga by looking for a better way to exercise, I now know that It's much deeper.
My latest conclusion is that I think Yoga can even be used for building self efficacy, because of the way you feel and see results, which in turn teaches your mind to resonate with feelings of completion and progress. This is probably a subject for another time though.
I still don't fully understand the depth of the system and I have a long way to go but as a last perspective, i'm beginning to understand that Yoga is just one link in a larger chain.
Physical yoga, should be practiced with mental yoga / meditation (Yoga Nidra) and linked together with Pranayama (life force / breath). The three can be practiced individually but are so closely intertwined that they should be practiced together.
Im looking forward to expanding my understanding of these in the future.