As you know, since my arrival, efforts have been made to commit to practicing yoga multiple times per week. Wether this be outdoors or at the gym. I believe using the iPad app Fitstar Yoga has taught me many things - secrets to helping my form, and being able to push myself a little further. For example, when bending over backwards, the app has stressed the importance of pushing up through the chest, and heart, instead of crunching into the back. Or, while doing balance poses, to keep the abs engaged and root down through the big toe. These tips, and others, have been essential to developing proper form, keeping steady breathing, and learning how to transition between some great poses seamlessly.
When I started going to the gym, many of the poses in the sessions were familiar to me, with a few variations and new poses to keep things interesting. With four different instructors, new dynamics have encouraged my respect for each teacher and their individual approach. Such diversity in practice, while leveraging it as a means to enhance my own, helps to keep my thoughts and mind calm while listening to the class completely in a foreign language.
Not being able to speak has started to teach me to have more reverence for being quiet (I often talk a lot), and to work at calming my mind, especially if the pose is challenging. Having the teacher speaking in Mandarin, especially the ones who count to ten for each pose, gives me something to work on and keep my mind off the intensity of the stretch - mind over matter.
Whilst out in the park the other day, and doing a great session, I was able to settle into myself and focus on being present, absorbing the moment, and learning to reach such a state with many surrounding distractions. At the time, the park had many locals walking around, talking, children playing, and several people watching me. Pulling from The Art of Learning which I'd just finished, I was able to use these sounds and "distractions" as an opportunity to practice reaching my zone, even when conditions weren't optimal (alone, quiet etc). The trick, is to learn to be able to reach this place no matter the surrounding environmental conditions. It's important to be able to learn this, regardless of what's around you; and may only be developed through practice.
Going forward, I would like to tick my yoga meter up just a notch, by slightly progressing from the poses I'm doing now. Having more advanced stretches will be a great challenge to me. To push myself further, will be encouraging and strengthen my desire to become more focused during each session while staying true to my breathing. I believe continuing to develop a habit of consistently doing sessions will help in reducing fluctating emotions, increase spurts of creativity, and provide more energy.
There is much to be learned from developing a positive habit which focuses on breathing, building endurance and purging the mental fog we often endure. Such activities include: running, biking, yoga, working out and other similar activities. For those looking for a tip on speeding up this process, try not listening to headphones and simply enjoy the stillness of what's surrounding you -- even if you are in the hustle of a big city. Blur these moving obstacles out, rise above them, focus inward and find stabilization. It may seem challenging at first, the focus is to be able to turn this capability on and off at will. Try journaling, by hand, on paper, this will help your capacity to do this and provide a record of your growth.