On the Practice of Yoga, Part 1

I am currently going through a 300-hour program with Jason Crandell and will be finishing the second module tomorrow. His wife, Andrea Ferretti, was a former editor at Yoga Journal and is the host and producer of the Yogaland podcast.

As a part of the second module, Andrea came in to give her insight on on storytelling, an art in itself. As a yoga teacher, you set yourself apart by the stories you tell through different mediums, such as a blog, the photos you share on your Instagram, or the videos you produce to put on your YouTube channel. Especially in a city like San Francisco that I live in, it is heavily-saturated with plenty of talented, skillful, and knowledgeable yoga teachers, being a storyteller is all the more important.

I love writing, I love words, and I love yoga. I’ll be sharing different reflections and thoughts, with prompts from Andrea. Here’s the first.

What are three transformations you’ve seen within yourself from your yoga practice?

1. No patience. Anger. Irritability. Pessimism.

I had plenty of these qualities before a consistent yoga practice. I knew no other way because I had no other healthy outlet. I had no patience because I felt no one was able to communicate, when it was me who consistently assumed circumstances and expectations. I had a lot of anger against other people, against myself, and against the situation at hand; this led straight to irritability and shutting down, holding grudges against people. I was always quick to see the negative aspects in everything, and slow to see any positivity or silver linings.

Holding postures for 10, 20 breaths at a time really allows you to hang out with your breath and you get time to ruminate over thoughts from your day, your week, and realize they don’t matter at the current moment.

Photo by Che Holts

2. Physical strength and flexibility. More physical awareness.

I had zero upper body strength, no real core strength or any tone to my legs. All I had was a skinny, petite frame. Practicing physical asanas, I gradually built up strength and endurance for arm balances, inversions, and other shapes. In turn, that allowed me to understand my physical limitations and knowing the difference between pain and discomfort. I was able to test my strength and endurance — and you bet my face met the mat more times than any actual hang time. There are no words to describe that moment in which you find that perfect sweet spot in which you find your balance.

3. Connectedness.

Yoga helped me to find a better sense of connection with myself, others, and the greater world around me. All yoga philosophy aside, I realized that we are all one in the same, in different bodies with different experiences. We are all going through the same shit, a day at a time, sharing this human condition together. I’d never felt much compassion before — for others and myself — and yoga has brought it to the forefront of each and every day.

To say that yoga has changed my life is the biggest understatement of the year. It rules a lot of how I choose to live everyday, and how I will approach the next.