The Means to Continue - the value of my yoga practice
As I begin another week at Blackhall, the popular trend each and every Monday comes to life once again with the themes of motivation and mindfulness front and centre in peoples' minds.
Often to bolster myself and keep that positive mental attitude alive, I take quotes and thoughts for the day to heart, looking to put them into practice, especially at the dreaded beginning of a week.
The dichotomy of loving or hating Mondays is thoroughly embedded in our social conscience, but as is so often the way, it can be much more profitable to find a silver lining at the start of a busy week.
Since beginning PPC1, it has been a hectic and rewarding experience, but my personality favours routine and this can be hard to find in an ever changing schedule, such is the nature of the course and the many academic and social priorities.
Truthfully, one has to live and prepare week to week, which is a challenge for time-management.
It was important to me to find balance, to find a fixed constant in my weekly schedule, and thankfully I found it in my Monday evening yoga class as taught by the wonderful Saskia Visser.
The class is small, almost intimate and in that calming, peaceful environment, I am able to set myself up for the week, to take the time to listen to my body, to quiet my mind and live in the present moment.
Having practiced yoga on and off for many years, I was aware of the healing benefits for the body and the mind, to be able to improve in my own personal practice as well as manage my stress at exam time and during busy workdays.
These last six weeks have caused me to deepen my practice that bit more, to listen to my body and truly learn how to get the very best out of yoga postures, to understand that it is not about doing such movements perfectly, but accepting that your body can be conditioned and strengthened even through the smallest of stretches or postures.
The choice to step onto the mat, to attend a class is a sign of the commitment, which was something extremely important that my teacher, Saskia told us today while we lay on our backs after an intense practice involving side-plank variations.
Doing my first headstand in last week's class was an accomplishment in itself, having not had the confidence before to even attempt it in the few years of attending yoga classes.
On reflection, it was fear that held me back, whether it was of failure or injury, but it was through the support of all my instructors, in the Himalaya Yoga Valley Centre in Cork, the elbowroom in Smithfield and Saskia in Blackhall, I could build my strength, my focus and quiet confidence to finally take that final step.
It felt amazing.
So beginning each week with the knowledge that I have done my best practice, that I will continue to deepen that practice and take the lessons of mindfulness into my daily life and future career is a real source of comfort.
It has been a wonderful journey so far and I hope to continue well into my later years.
Moral of the story: start small, take pride in the small achievements and your practice, either yoga or meditation is all your own.
Himalaya Yoga Valley Centre Cork: https://yogacorkireland.com/
The elbow room, Smithfield, Dublin: https://www.the-elbowroom.com/
Saskia Visser, The Dublin Holistic Centre: http://www.dublinholisticcentre.com/therapists/saskia%20visser/