Yoga as a Practice of Self Enquiry vs Self Improvement

I began my yoga journey with a long list of things I wanted to improve about myself. I wanted to feel happier, more peaceful, less stressed, more calm, less anxious, more flexible, the list went on…. I would diligently go to class 5 times per week, pushing my body to the extreme in the endless pursuit of the perfect pose and the perfect feeling of momentary peace. I did experience moments of deep peace and calm, but they didn’t last and I found myself constantly reaching for the next ‘achievement’- a deeper forward fold, a longer headstand hold or a longer meditation, hoping that this would give me that deeper sense of connection and meaning that I was truly yearning for. It never did, and in fact I found myself often agitated and frustrated in my practice.

With the hindsight of over a decade of yoga practice, I see that in my early days of yoga (as in the first 9 years!) I was approaching it as way to construct a preferred state. That I somehow needed to be different than how I am. This led to years of pushing myself, berating myself, imposing movement on my body that didn’t feel nourishing, all in the hope that one day, someday, I would find what I was looking for. That day never came.

Nowdays, I’m using my yoga as a practice of self enquiry, rather than self improvement. An investigation of what’s here in this moment now. It involves a willingness and openness to be with the physical sensations, thoughts and emotions, as they show up moment to moment in the practice. Self Inquiry begins from the starting point of enoughness- that who I am in this moment is enough. Not trying to make anything happen, not pushing. Moving the body from a place of awareness and allowance of what is. Moving in this way nourishes and heals the body. Flexibility and openness naturally happen because we’re not forcing and coercing.

Using the practice as a self enquiry often gives clarity and deep insight, as we’re not pushing an agenda or rigid idea of what needs to happen. We tend to feel a deeper sense of embodiment- an intimacy with what's here right now. A deeper feeling of aliveness and pleasure in the body, not just on the yoga mat but in all facets of life. The sweet warmth of sun on the skin, gentle blow of the wind, your breath caressing you from the inside out.

Of course having intentions and goals is a healthy and necessary part of living the life we want. The sweet invitation is to hold our intentions with a softness and spaciousness that allows for an intimacy with life as it is right now. Because it’s in this place that deep peace, healing and joy lives.

Soul Practice at the MaiTri Centre 30 July 2017.

Soul Practice at the MaiTri Centre 30 July 2017.

The Sacred Pause between 2014 and 2015

This is such a powerful and potent time of the year. 2014 is almost but not quite over, 2015 has almost but not quite begun. We have this opportunity to take a sacred pause and get intentional about how we want to end the year that's been and to move powerfully and with clarity into the New Year.

In this sacred pause we can choose to remember all the ways in which we moved closer to an authentic and joyful life in 2014. Each small step we have taken towards living from our heart's calling is a huge success and cause for celebration. In this sacred pause we can choose to bring in 2015 filled with a deep gratitude and excitement for a brand new year of unlimited potential and possibilities.

2014 has been the biggest and most transformational year of my life. This was the year I stepped powerfully onto my own heart's pathway. I don't know exactly where this path is leading, but I do know that for the first time in my life I am living with deep joy, gratitude and fulfilment. And it feels good! I'm ending 2014 back in my hometown of Melbourne, Australia after almost 2 years in Bali. I am so humbled by the way the yoga community in Melbourne has embraced me and given me abundant opportunities to share my passion for teaching yoga.

It's been a privilege to walk this path with so many beautiful people who have supported and encouraged me to follow my truth. May 2015 be filled with outrageous joy, abundance and deep heart fulfilment for us all.

Love Lisa

photographer @juanpabloreyes

photographer @juanpabloreyes