We asked Guest Blog poster, Julie Gondzar, to tell us what being #YogiStrong means to her. We were so grateful that she wanted to participate by writing a blog post for our Illuminations blog. Here is, in Julie’s words, what it means to be #YogiStrong:
When I hear the word “strength”, I immediately think of physical strength and power within the body. In my world, strength has always been the ability to push through boundaries, lift up, and that physical feeling of abundance and vitality. Arnold Schwarzenegger says, “When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” In the past two years, what it means to “be strong” has changed quite a bit for me since I started practicing yoga.
I had always admired yoga. Actually, it intimidated me a little bit, and took a certain level of courage to start taking classes. At the very beginning of my yoga journey, I realized quickly that I was physically much weaker than many of the other students in the class. Eventually, after more practice and more patience (key word there), I got stronger and more confident. Developing physical strength is certainly beneficial to increasing confidence and motivation to continue moving forward with your head high. Most new adventures tend to start this way, and it can feel so rewarding. Little did I know, physical strength had very little to do with yoga overall.
Eventually, as my yoga practice progressed, I began learning some of the more important lessons (and I’m still learning). Yoga and a steady practice is not about physical or muscular achievements. I started to notice that there were times I could confidently power-up into a pose, but then there were times I could not even come close. This was extremely frustrating, and I didn’t understand how the physical body could be so different from day to day. Muscles grow, the strength should be there. Well, I was wrong. Yes, muscles do grow, but strength is not just physical. Strength not only comes from the physical body, but it comes almost more effectively from the mind. Body and mind need to be synced for you to be your strongest in both areas. I was completely caught off-guard when my body could no longer power into poses which I thought I had finally achieved. So naturally, I pushed myself, I yelled at myself, I diminished myself as a consequence of feeling weak and set-back.
In many yoga classes, we often hear the instructor or guide say, “Listen to your body.” Most of the time that went in one ear and out the other. However, over time I have come to really listen and acknowledge it, enough that it’s become one of my mantras. If you push yourself too hard or get flooded with self-disappointment, the only thing you’re doing is getting into an unruly fist-fight with yourself. I’ve battled with my body enough to know that it never ends well to put up the fight. There is either excessive self-doubt or sometimes an injury. It’s okay to put the lion in the back seat for a while. Don’t worry, he’s still there.
Yogi’s are strong, but it doesn’t always come easy. We have trials and errors, up-hill battles, down-hill slides. It’s like a natural disaster at times! Being strong has brought new meaning to my life, through my adventures in yoga. Strength is being able to let go. Being #StrongYogi is being able to accept submission when our body asks for it. Instability or “set-backs” in your practice should be looked at as offerings to rest and refuel the mind. Being #StrongYogi is being able to fall and stay there for a while before standing back up. Give yourself that down-time. You will see, after practicing this type of strength a few times, you will come out stronger and more empowered as a yogi. It can be a hard lesson to learn (I sure know it), especially if you let pride and a little bit of ego get in the way. But if you can use your strength to surrender to yourself, you will rise a better person and a better yogi.