If it's easy, is it worth it?

 
 

Everything hurts. From the top of my head down to my little toes, it’s all sore. I forget how challenging it is training here in Mysore, India. But in saying that, my aching body is a fabulous reminder of why I come here each year! No, I’m not a sucker for punishment. Rather, I understand it is through this intense level of practice that I progress. That I am coming to know myself a little more every day.

There is a huge misunderstanding in the west that yoga is easy. That it’s all about relaxation and some gentle stretching. This couldn’t be more wrong. Whilst these classes exist, and I LOVE to attend them occasionally, for me this is not what the practice is about. The challenge of the practice, continuing to attend class even though everything hurts, is all yoga. The discipline is yoga. And what I’ve personally come to experience through this intensity is how quickly my body responds to it. Yes, there are the initial aches. The initial, “I can’t get off the toilet seat,” moments. And it’s going to last a few days. I know this. But this is good pain, and its temporary.

Nothing in life comes easily. Nothing. I believe how we practice is a symbol of how we live our lives. Do we look for the easy path or are we open to the challenge?

Whilst I hate to say it, and accept in some instances, to live a life we are truly proud of, one we are truly connected to and that is meaningful, requires effort. Work. With yoga, we talk about bringing the lessons we learn on our mats into our daily life, a statement I fully support. I’ve found that the more confronting the practice, the deeper the lessons. Conversely, the more detached or ‘going through the motions’ the practice, the less I learn.

Yoga does not discriminate and it will ruthlessly illuminate the bullshit we tell ourselves and the areas we need to work on. How we move our body on the mat is a reflection of how we live our lives. Does the alarm go off in the morning and you think, “I can’t be bothered today, I’m going back to sleep,” or does the alarm go off and you still think, “I’m tired, I can’t be bothered with my practice, but I know it’s important so up I get!” BIG difference between these two mindsets and something to really contemplate as it will set the tone for your day and your life. I too, struggle with this. I am not some yoga machine who does not feel pain, get tired or want to run away and hide sometimes. As I mentioned earlier, my entire body is in pain right now. To sleep, to eat, to shower has all become an effort. If anything, I just want to sleep for the next month because I’m human and I’m bloody tired!

But I won’t give up on my practice as I would consider it an injustice to myself should I give up and allow the temporary aches dictate how I approach each day. Why? Because this would not just be a reflection of my practice, but it would also be a reflection of my life. Of my approach to life.

So with all that said – I figure it is a new year and let’s all take advantage of that. We have new ambitions, desires, goals we want to achieve – all of which can only be achieved through action. Even when you don’t feel like it, or it’s been a shitty day that you want well behind you – act. Don’t give up on You. Try not to allow external forces out there dictate how you live your life. Develop rituals to ensure each and every day is bringing you a little nearer to your goals. Try not to fixate on the goal either. Enjoy the journey. The struggles. The aches and pains. View these challenges as growth. Learning. An opportunity to deepen your connection with yourself. If you practice yoga and a posture is tough that day. Work with it. Don’t give up. Explore it a little more. Challenge yourself a little further. You might be surprised what you uncover in the process.

And remember, it is the moments when you want to run and hide that you need to face head on. Sure, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, it may hurt a little. But at the end of the day, there is nothing more satisfying than achieving something you have worked hard for.

So get back on your mat, be present in the moment, don’t give up and enjoy the bumps along the way :)

Sending hugs from India

Jessica xx

Imperfection is perfection. Embrace it.

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga
 

Chatting with a beautiful soul today, another yogi, I was reminded of how valued honesty and vulnerability is in the world. How refreshing it is to read content from another human and know it’s completely 100% authentic. That it hasn’t been toyed with to suit what other people want, but rather that it gives people a window into another persons life and all the ups and downs she faces within it.

My intention for this blog was very clear from the beginning. Be truthful. Be real. Be me.

This was important to me for two main reasons.

1)   I tend to get through the tougher times when I write them down. It helps me to clear my mind and somehow gives me the strength to keep going. My partner ALWAYS know when I haven’t been blogging or journaling. My thoughts become scattered and irrational. This is not a peaceful way of living. So getting it out – whether on paper or computer – is really therapeutic.

2)   I can’t help anyone unless I’m completely transparent and authentic. I don’t know about you, but reading stories where nothing goes wrong and is somehow perfect – is not only boring, but it’s complete shit. LOTS of things go wrong in my life, and I’m not afraid to be upfront about being human. It’s in the going wrong where I learn my most valuable lessons, so I do my best to embrace the good and tough times equally. It’s a humble and calmer way to live.

I personally don't like the photo I've used for this blog and truth be told - whilst we're on the subject of honesty! - I wasn't going to show it to the world. But me being me, and being too dam stubborn to let the ego take over and delete it from the blog, I decided to share it. You see, in this picture my technique is very poor and I cringe every time I look at it. My shoulders are slumped, my core is weak, my feet are barely off the ground and my body is too far forward. I recall having a lot of nasty little rocks under my palms when I attempted this asana and it really affected how I came in and out of it. Whilst I look smiley and happy, because I was having a huge amount of fun doing this shoot, I was also hoping any lacerations to my palms wouldn't get infected... Infection is not ideal at the best of times, let alone when you're in India. What I've come to accept (not easily I might add), is who cares if the posture wasn't perfect?! If another practitioner looks at the image and sees how imperfect the posture is - who cares? I don't. Because it says more about them at the end of the day then it does about me.

One of my all time favourite chick flick movies is Bride Wars. The other is Bridget Jones’ Diary. Officially the best movies in the world and I could watch them on repeat (and have done so many times) day in and day out. I just love them. So, in Bride Wars, after all the malicious attempts to ruin weddings, Kate Hudsons character (a successful lawyer) shares her realization that she doesn’t have to keep everything together all the time. That it’s an exhausting way of living. Now, whilst I appreciate this isn’t the deepest of movies, at the end of the day this message really is quite poignant. Because the truth is – not only is it exhausting and stressful trying to have everything together all the time (because you fear what others might say if you have a hair out of place), but it’s also impossible. I know I’ll never make a Stepford Wife?! (I can’t help but grin as I write this, knowing my partner will read it and be like – “Yup! You got that right Jessica!”).

Women in particular can be very harsh with themselves in this way. We get promoted and fear it’s only a matter of time until we get caught. We feel undeserving of compliments, success and often love – real love. But the truth is, we are the right person for the promotion – it came to us because we worked for it God dam it! We are deserving of all the compliments, success and love that comes our way. I know this to be the case with men also, just not as strongly as it is for women. We spend WAY too much time worrying about what others are thinking about us rather than just being present in the moment.  A really stressful way of living and I’m super guilty of this. I work hard every day to alter my thoughts to ones that are life giving rather than life taking, as this is. Yoga has been such a powerful tool in my life for this very reason.  

I share my ups and downs with the world, firstly for me. Secondly, I hope that in doing so I encourage other men and women to be OK with not being perfect. To be OK with always being in suck mode. To having a stressful day and not having your shit together all the time. To trust everything will work out even in those stressful everything is falling apart times  – because it will. At the end of the day, my journey is my journey and I can either choose to enjoy it or be stressed out of brains trying to perfect it. I know what path I will choose. Which shall you?

Sending love and worthy vibes to you,

Jessica xx

I am not my pain

I am not a gymnast. I am not a ballerina. Calisthenics? No. Martial arts? Nup! Growing up, I never did the sort of activities which helped children to gain amazing balance, flexibility or strength in their body. I tried ballet once (for about 8 weeks), when I was about 6, but the teacher told me I was fat and too old to start. You can imagine I left pretty quickly after that! (Hello life long self-esteem issues!). At school the Tri Skool came a couple of times over the years, letting us play on some temporary gymnastics equipment, but this was usually just for a lunch time. That was the extend of my gymnastics training!

Long story short - I played all the usual sports like netball, softball and basketball. I did sprint and cross country running at one point and even tried my hand at tennis (total fail here).  I was also a horse rider, which certainly didn’t help in the flexibility arena. Scoliosis also meant chronic pain in my lower back and limited flexibility in my spine… or so i thought.

You see - for much of my life I have defined myself by my past experiences.

I never did ballet or gymnastics so I can never do the splits.. or

I have a bad back so I will never be able to do a backbend..

On and on it went. I was my own worst enemy when it came to trying new things, or believing (which is more accurate) that I could try new things. I was extremely good at pigeonholing myself, labelling myself - making sure I did nothing outside of that label.

Turns out - these labels are not only extraordinarily unhelpful, but they are damaging too. Turns out, just like ballerinas and gymnasts learn early on, I too have the potential to move my body in amazing ways. Whilst this is a much slower progression as I’m about to hit 30 and my body is not as supple as a child or teen, turns out there is possibility to train my body to reach these new, seemingly impossible heights.

I never needed to be defined by my perceived weaknesses, because they are only that - perceived. It’s taken a little while, but I’ve come to understand (through experience) that I am the creator of my own reality. Should I want to be weak, then I can make it so. Should I want to be strong and flexible, then this too can be achieved.

At a time in my life when I felt like everything was falling apart, I traveled to India where I met a man, Guruji, who saw potential in me. Correction - he sees potential in all. One day, I went to this wise man privately, in tears, to speak about my back pain. How I felt so limited by it. He said something to me that day that I have never forgotten and that I will hold close for the rest of my life.

I am not my pain. My pain will only exist if I allow it to be so. Should I choose to be strong, then I will be strong. But if I choose weakness, then this is all I will ever know. Physically, mentally…. It will touch every aspect of my life.

An interesting thing happened after that conversation - not only did I begin telling myself positive messages about my back, about who I am in the world - but I began to notice changes. My body felt stronger, my mind calmer. I felt at ease with my body and mind, more confident.

This is not to say the back pain has disappeared. Absolutely not. It’s still there. But I am not defined by it and it does not haunt me the way it once did, for so much of my life. The pain fluctuates; but rather than give into it, I challenge it. I give it the most minimal attention.

So today I finally did Pincha Mayurasana on my own. The most difficult part of this asana, this posture, has been the bend in my spine. I’ve fallen more times than I can count and the pain in my back was intense at times. But finally, with a little self belief and determination, here I am. Every day my spine is becoming stronger and more flexible - because I believe it can be so.

 
 
 
 

This asana has been possible only because of three key things:

  1. Having the courage to face fears

  2. Finding the will to keep trying

  3. Being inspired by a man who could see beyond the surface. At the time, he could see what I couldn’t, and I will be forever grateful for his belief in me.

As a final note - we do not need to be our pain. We do not need to let it hold us back. If we do, then we lose the possibility of achieving amazing things in this lifetime. Ask yourself - “Why do you keep yourself small? Why do you play the safe card? What’s the payoff for this?” Whilst these questions are confronting, they could be key to unlocking parts of yourself you never realised existed.

Namaste xx