As yet another year draws to a close, I reflect back on 2015, which represented for me a significant time of change.
This year for me began with the conscious decision to leave the investment banking industry and pursue my passion for yoga, a practice that has transformed my body, mind and with the risk of sounding utterly cheesy, has transformed my life.
Many have since asked me what exactly drove me to this drastic career change. My answer is simple and is summed up perfectly by a few words uttered by Hollywood actor Bill Murray, funnily enough:
"Life is so damn short. For fuck's sake, just do what makes you happy".
The first few months of 2015 were difficult for me, to say the least. I was determined to wait until the "bonus" in May before resigning from the bank. For over 8 years, I would say that drive, motivation and determination are what carried me through the long hours, and if I may, the many frustrations of the industry. In January however, once my decision was firmly made; drive, motivation and determination for a banking career were no more, and going about daily tasks at work was a struggle. Looking back, I believe that meditation got me through those few months. If someone had told me a few years ago that I could one day sit still for longer than 30 seconds with my eyes shut, I would have said that they were completely out of their minds.
After a very slow 5 months, I finally resigned and a few weeks later packed my bags and emptied our New York City apartment. My husband and I were headed for London, the city I call home. When we left London in 2009 for Singapore in search of some adventure, I had no idea I would be longing to return home only 7 years later.
Over the summer, my new journey began with a 200hr teacher training in NYC. During this training, we were given an assignment that I would like to share with you (see below). The instructions we were given were simple, choose a yoga pose and write about it. The pose I chose was Triangle pose, Trikonasana in Sanskrit.
In October, I completed Baptiste Power Vinyasa Level 2 training in Sedona, Arizona, a truly unforgettable experience. The trip also gave me the opportunity to explore the Grand Canyon, which was long overdue.
And so I wave goodbye to 2015 and as I start to become curious about what 2016 has in store for me, I remind myself that “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Mother Teresa. If we dwell too much on the past and the future, there is a risk that we will miss the precious moments of the present. So my reflection is over, Happy New Year all!!
Yoga Posture Assignment - July 2015
When we were given this essay to write, the choice for me was simple. This beautiful pose sends life through the whole body, from the powerful grounding of the feet and legs, creating deep, penetrating roots into the earth, to an opening through the chest and back and all the way to the fingertips.
I believe that I can go as far as saying that this pose, and how it has evolved for me over the last 7 years, beautifully depicts my yoga journey.
When I first started practicing, I was very much focused on making sure that my entire body in the pose, hips, head and heart were all stacked on one plane as if I were standing “perfectly” centered between two panes of glass. After all, this is what I recall was instructed by my teachers; or at least what my brain had processed at the time. The word “perfect” is very appropriate here. My background, education and working in the finance industry all contributed to my continuous search for perfection. This meant always working hard and pushing myself to achieve. This was the environment I had known, this “no pain no gain” type attitude. Naturally I then brought this attitude onto my mat. Triangle pose however allowed me to access a new feeling, one that balanced strength with ease. With many years of martial arts under my belt, I had already developed the strength but accessing ease and a lightheartedness in my practice was more of a challenge. And it was through this pose that I found that side bends and lengthening the side waist provided me with an overwhelming sense of release and calming.
Sthira sukhamasanam, Yoga Sutra 2.46 defines yoga asana as a steady (sthira), comfortable (sukha) posture. Cultivating steadiness and ease in each pose requires a combination of effort and release – effort to hold the pose and maintain a grounded foundation, and release in areas of the body available for relaxation in the pose.
For me, it was through triangle pose that I was able to understand and embody sthira and sukha. This I believe has truly taken my yoga practice to the next level, both physically and spiritually. These complimentary poles, or Yin and Yang, have taught me the wisdom of balance. Every day, I continually seek this balance in all postures of my practice, which is of course more difficult for some than others. However these qualities are accessible in every asana and it is up to us to cultivate them. Most importantly, I am always seeking balance off my mat, to help me find an inner harmony and a sense of ease in the struggles of daily life.
I believe this was the start of my yoga journey. This magnificent pose allowed me to tap into a sense of awareness that was buried deep for so many years.
A few years into my practice, I finally let go of the obsession that my body in the pose had to be perfectly flat. A teacher, though I do not quite recall who or even when, helped me explore a new possibility. By turning my back foot in slightly, and allowing my upper hip to naturally roll in a little (rather than staying in the one plane), I was able to move deeper in the pose and create an even more powerful opening through my side waist, chest and heart. The feeling was magical.
Reasons why I love this strong grounding pose? I can confidently say that it has changed my life.