I’ve been practicing yoga for 28 years, that’s about 10,220 days that yoga has been a part of my life. Why am I telling you this? It’s my birthday this month which always triggers a bit of reflection…
This photo was taken by my Mum who minutes before had been practicing yoga with my Dad, I came into the room to see them trying to get into a posture, they described it and I sat down, got into lotus with all the ease and flexibility of a child I said ‘you mean this?’ My parents, (a little crestfallen) confirmed that’s what they’d been trying to do, gave up on their Asana for the day and took a picture of my smug little face instead. This photo marks the birth of Yoga Pose! -A reference to my free podcast. Available wherever you like to listen to podcasts.
I recently went to an event in Brighton called She Says, a conference aimed at women in the digital world. Five women stood up to share their career journeys; low level retail jobs to fund their studies, still low level retail jobs to fund unpaid internships, hundreds of application forms completed but never listed for interviews, years spent working in fields unrelated to their current path, before finally making it. SheSays is an award-winning organization running free mentorship and events to women in the creative industry, not just in Brighton globally, get involved!
What really stood out from each of the speakers was:
Their definitions of success were different
Love what you do
...That’s quite a big ask to implement that into your life, so why not start by encorporating those principles into your asana practice?
My #YogaGoals are very different now to the goals I had a few years ago. It’s good to have the focus of a target; but be open to changing it as you grow and develop. Your asana practice is going to look different to the students next to you and what you see online. Even though I’m a white (young ish) woman, I don’t feel represented by most of the images of yoga online. I have Reynaulds, so I can’t pose in crop tops and I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been out hiking, take a little rest in splits and the moment isn’t captured by my photographer...! I was 6 years old im this photo, and more flexible then, despite my decades of practice. That’s because the torque (angle) of the hip socket gets more shallow as you age. I can tell you padmasana would be a heck of a lot less comfortable if I hadn’t practiced yoga though, but more than that, is the range of motion I have in my hips is normal, which means my hips and back feel good. Success!
Love what you do
Love what you practice. Choose a style and a teacher that inspires you, get to know your teacher, ask questions and seek connection. Take the time to learn what you love, then seek more of those things out in your practice and day to day life. Maintaining my practice for 28 years isn’t something to be admired necessarily. I knew back then I liked making shapes, so I kept doing it and that was my practice. As I got older I found breathing techniques that helped me feel calm before exams, and sometimes before bed I’d lie on the floor next to my Mum, both of us with our legs up the wall (viparita karani) relaxing and talking about our day. Going to public classes was where I made some really good friends, which lead me to be invited to teach at the Float Spa. This studio attracts the best teachers in the city, and I’m right up there with them. (I was going to make a self deprecating comment there saying ‘the best teachers… and me’ but I stopped myself. Because I am right up there. I love what I do, and I’m really good at it.
There’s not a lot of purpose to lotus pose, I mean the right heel will stimulate your pancreas a little if you fold forward in the pose, but otherwise it’s a hip opener you can find in other shapes. What gives it purpose is the learning to be patient and gentle, to support the legs as you enquire into the pose. Slow down and discover. These qualities are cultivated in asanas, and that’s what gives the practice purpose. So if you find yourself challenged by a posture; great! This is going to be your greatest teacher. This approach to Asana is what’s going to motivate you to maintain your practice, as well as sharing what you learn with your network. Your friends and family need you to practice yoga and meditation, for the patience and softening it brings to you.
So let’s see my 28 years of practice as a call to action to find out what you love to do and see where it leads you. I'm normally super shy about my birthday, but not this year. If you'd like to message me, it's on the 23rd.
Listen to my free Yoga Pose Podcast. Search ROSIE ILES-JONAS wherever you like to listen to podacsts.