How yoga taught me patience : Sam Parisi
I had always been the type of person going from one activity to the next. I thought that a good run, or game of sport meant that I had worked out. And really, what did it matter if I couldn’t touch my toes? Or, even after trying to stretch, my hamstrings were still really tight? But seriously, no matter how damn hard I tried I couldn’t bend forward without feeling my concrete hamstrings and that was that. There it was – the very clear source of my lower back pain. I was intrigued by yoga, but just hadn’t had the time to try it, I wanted my exercise of choice to keep me in shape. To my uninitiated self, yoga was perceived simply as a method of stretching and meditating. Oh how wrong I was!
My running career started losing pace as I nursed a knee injury. Runner’s knee they call it. How lovely – an injury specifically dedicated to a sport. I was frustrated at my body for not healing quickly enough. Without exercise my mind raced and became agitated. It was time to try yoga – I hadn’t yet heard of a ‘yogi’s shoulder’. But where to start? I was surely the step before a beginner! I saw the six-week beginners’ package at Flametree Yoga Studio and took solace in the fact that if yoga and my concrete hamstrings didn’t get along, I could try something else after six weeks.
I started the course with bowed arms, arched back, computer shoulders and legs that wouldn’t cooperate. And, a mind that wouldn’t settle. Our kind (and very patient!) teachers continually told me to ‘straighten those legs’, ‘clip the shoulders in’, ‘chest up, look up’, ‘roll the upper arm out’. I am so thankful for the Iyenga yoga method of teaching poses in sequences – making sure that the poses are done correctly, with thought applied, and not racing to get to the final pose. It was a challenge, but one I am so grateful for sticking with. Understanding how to ‘roll the upper arm out’ was something that didn’t actually click until I was six months in, one of the many light bulb moments. Yoga is nothing if it is not a practice in which you must be patient with yourself, both your mind and your body.
Now, one and a half years into practicing yoga, what I first thought was impossible is actually achievable, and I’m continually learning. Along with being able to touch my toes – a feat which I was capable of an entire year after starting my journey in yoga – I am able to focus my mind clearly and fully on the poses that I am trying to achieve. I no longer get angry at myself when I’m not able to balance, neither do I analyse my performance post class. I’ve learnt to become patient with myself – that I need to listen to my body and instead of getting to the result as quickly as possible, take the time to do the pose correctly. Results will come before you even realise it.
Along my journey, I’ve found that the lessons I’ve learnt practicing yoga are relevant to my life. I now have physical evidence that patience pays off. Now that I can touch my toes, there’s no stopping me.
Other Student Testimonials
Speak up … don’t give up
I have a mental illness known as major depression and have long been aware that exercise is touted as an effective antidote, but I was never able to stick at anything, until I found yoga. I do not know why yoga appeals so much. Perhaps it is because I can be in my own space in a room full of people and I have so many things on which to concentrate that I have no time for depressing thoughts.