Following mainstream media one could easily get the impression that Yoga is about beautiful postures and an ecstatic mind-set. Both are certainly a part of it; postures are great fun, and emotional highs during or after any kind of Yoga practice have the potential to spontaneously manifest.

But what happens when we are going through a difficult time in our life, like relationship challenges, illness; that of a loved one, or our own, financial issues, losing work, moving house etc. How can Yoga serve us then? And how can it serve us when especially during those times, we feel completely unmotivated to practice?

Prevention

Aiming for consistent and solid practice as a measure of prevention, can provide you with an excellent starting point for when facing a challenging time. We can build a strong immune system, not only physically, but also emotionally and mentally. If you should become ill despite those precautions, you are more likely to recover quite quickly. With regular practice we can withstand any ‘onslaught’ to our emotional equilibrium more effectively, and stand strong amidst any turmoil.

The right ‘tools’

I have always found it helpful to have what I call a ‘yoga tool kit’ i.e. knowing what kind of practices to use when. This applies to any physical ailments, where a gentler more restorative practice can be useful. For this use the guidance of an experienced teacher. Also practicing Pranayama – breathing exercises – in particular for any respiratory and digestive issues can have a miraculous healing effect.

Yoga in support of other treatments

When battling a serious, maybe even life –threatening illness, Yoga has proven to be a trusted support, powerfully aiding the healing; especially when combined with a ‘sattvic’ diet and lifestyle (i.e. ‘balanced’ according to Ayurvedic medicine). Again, if Yoga was practiced regularly before the illness, the recovery can be more profound.

Anyone – either those familiar with Yoga or still a newcomer – can benefit from a regular practice at any stage of an illness, as the practice can always be adapted to suit one’s needs.

Feeling unmotivated

There are times when we are mentally struggling; this could be due to a relationship break-up, troubles with friends or neighbours, financial difficulties or disputes at work etc. It is during those times that we often feel unmotivated, flat, sluggish, or that there is seemingly no time for Yoga, or all of the above at once! Those who are used to the discipline of regular practice are more likely to overcome this hurdle. But the wonderful effects of Yoga are there for everyone to benefit from, also the occasional practitioner or newcomer to this beautiful discipline. So what are we meant to do?

Recall a beautiful ‘Yoga experience’

When life, or certain aspects of it feel out of sync, remember one of the delightful moments you have experienced during a Yoga class you have attended in the past. During the meditation at the end, feelings of balance, harmony, joy for no apparent reason, and a sense of inner calm and peace may have manifested. To experience these feelings is your birthright, you can tap into them at any time – but how, you may ask?

Find comfort in the Yoga community

Being surrounded by like-minded people at your local yoga school can be very supportive and uplifting. You may also find someone amongst the other yoga adepts who has experienced a similar situation to yours, and can share with you how they dealt with it.

Make an arrangement

You could commit to coming along to a yoga class with a friend. You may even be able to offer them a lift or something similar like having a juice together afterwards, which will definitely help you to get out of the house.

Join a course or take part in a ‘Yoga challenge’

Another way to assist you to get onto the mat is to subscribe to a yoga program. It might be simply to commit to a number of classes for a limited period of time. Or what can be quite effective is to join a course in which you learn more about yoga. In such a course you might be introduced to certain Yogic tools, which can be relevant to the situation you are experiencing. Also, sometimes yoga schools offer a ‘Yoga Challenge’ for a month of daily practice or similar. They all can be encouragement to help you keep up your practice.

Trust in the effective tools of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

Never underestimate the power of the practice tools used in the Ashtanga Vinyasa method; the consistent focus on breath and bandhas (muscle seals) during the practice of postures, and the drsti – gazing point – defined for each posture we are moving into. They are exclusively designed for us to harness our mind, draw its’ sole focus inward, giving us a well deserved break from all aggravating thoughts, allowing us to bring the continuous fluctuations of our mind to a single-pointed focus. We can leave all the ‘heaviness’ of life behind, because when in the present moment, we don’t draw on our past, and we don’t worry about the future. There is only the moment right now! Then we can look at things from a different angle, create some distance, and become well on all levels; physically, emotionally and mentally. This is an effective practice you can trust. There is the guarantee that you will feel uplifted at its’ culmination.

Come and with regular practice, give yourself the opportunity to experience what we are all entitled to; the feelings of wellbeing, contentment, peace, joy and ecstasy.

OM Shanti,
Angelika