Fulfillment, Happiness, Contentment, Health, Flexibility. Those are words often mentioned in connection to Yoga.
I have always had a high opinion for the yogic path and shared much respect to every serious yogi(ni).
Due to my insatiable hunger for knowledge, experiences and exploration I perform a wide variety of personal development practices and somehow always ended up with the topic of yoga.
Let me share my unfiltered experience I have had during my two "30+ Day Yoga Challenges" in Bali 2019, Sri Lanka 2020 and Online 2020.
Although I had the goal of "gaining clarity about my life" I tried to let go as much as possible from expectations and just see what happens on this journey. Trusting that this time won't be wasted.
Hint: I gained ONE INSIGHT that stood out from any other one. Understand this and you'll save yourself years of running around like a headless turkey not knowing where you eventually end up.
So dedicate the next 5 minutes and learn what this challenge could potentially do for you - should you choose to accept it.
Here is my story to illustrate the point:
"It is 6:45 a.m. as I am wandering with light steps through a Yoga Shala on a small hill in southern Sri Lanka.
I am the first student who arrived for todays Kundalini practice with Rukshan, an authentic and experienced yoga teacher. Calmness and Gratitude are circulating through my body as I roam the ocean with my eyes..."
But wait... how did I end up here?
10 days earlier I was in a different place, ambitiously working 60+h a week on a high-performing team of a tremendously famous and successful Influencer.
To be more precise, I worked my ass off without earning a dime or taking a break for months on end, just to get this job-opportunity.
Imagine you'd be cutting back on sleep massively, neglecting relationships (and sex!), missing out on adventures and fun and studying hard to get a chance to be considered for this position.
"What kind of job is it, that he is willing to sacrifice his live for it?" you might be wondering.
It was an opportunity for me to make a shitload of money, while working remotely and being in control of my own schedule.
F*** yeah, I am willing to put in the effort to get this chance!
If I get there I'll be independent in time, money and location.
In short: Freedom!
Being driven by this ideal of freedom I made it into the team after six months!
Even I couldn't speak much english in the beginning I became one of the very few (out of thousands applicants!) that got the chance to work with this company and you bet I was proud of myself.
I dived into work enthusiastically and imagined that my vision would soon be realized... that I finally had the independence to go on all the adventures I dreamed of.
I got rid of my possessions, left my permanent residency, flew to Thailand aaand...
In 6 weeks time I took only 3 days off to discover the country...
What a shame!
The job was not what I expected it to be and pushed me to the edge of my happiness-zone.
Don't get me wrong. I love to work hard, be creative, add value, make money and achieve, but at the same time I need stillness, presence, simplicity, nature, relationships, fun and experiences.
To me, life is a balancing act between countless forces. As long as I have the control over my life, I am happy. With much or with little.
But I was in a position where I completely lost control over my time. I couldn't decide how to invest this precious life currency.
The firm controlled much of my schedule with daily meetings, expected responsiveness and customers from all over the world could book time blocks on my schedule.
To you this might seem superficial, but to me a world broke apart.
I felt like a modern slave and yes-sayer, wasting this valuable gift called life. I lost my freedom.
Have you ever been in situation where you felt you've lost control? Maybe your own job?
Think about it for a second...
“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” - Steve Jobs
Ohh Steve, thank you for this advice...
I took it to heart... and quit!
6 months of relentless work to get the position, just to throw it away when I finally got it.
So here I am…
Jobless, homeless and confused like hell.
While going for a walk I remembered why I did start my aspirations to freedom in the first place.
"The end goal was always HAPPINESS. You better choose a path that gives you this emotion as often as possible, WHILE you are PUTTING IN THE EFFORT to reach your highest ambitions."
Heres the catch: What actually makes you happy?
Often times we are trapped in things we have done for a long time, get influenced by the people around us and primed by things we see on tv and social media.
We lost touch with our intuition and authentic passions.
Knowing what really makes us happy isn't always easy to figure out (and it changes!).
Sometimes we go on paths we think make us happy to discover a dead end, just like I did with this job.
This is simply part of the process...
Nevertheless it is necessary to take a step back once in a while to look at our lives from a birds eye view.
Are we still on the right track?
Do we need to make adjustments to live our best life possible?
What mistakes and successes have we had and how could we use this wisdom?
I figured that jumping from one thing to the next probably isn't the smartest way, so instead I did something else:
A 30-day-yoga challenge, with the intention to
- Get really still after such relentless months of hustle
- Connect with my source again
- Let go from my illusion the perfect job
- Get clarity on my path, purpose and destiny
Sounds quite spiritual, huh?
Indeed, that is one part of our nature.
But completely shutting down my rational and driven mind has not been an easy task.
"Dude, you are useless. You do nothing, produce nothing and serve nobody, what are you doing here?!"
"While others are achieving success you are chanting OM's with people you don't even know. Are you serious?!"
...those where some thoughts running through my mind during my yoga challenge, you might relate to.
One day during Savasana (the relaxation phase at the end of many classes) a quote suddenly popped up in my head.
"Being busy doesn't always equal progress. Being still doesn't mean nothing is accomplished."
This is very much true. Look at nature, she does not hurry and yet everything is accomplished. The more I reflected on that the more I felt in yoga (in unity) with everything there is. A burden dropped from my shoulders and I realized that I was indeed making huge leaps forward.
My belief increased, so did my trust, my connection, my feelings... things became an upward spiral.
I stopped punishing myself for "wasting 7 months". I became grateful for what I've learned my courage to quit right away, instead of wasting another 1,2,3+ years.
As the days and weeks passed I found myself in a more calm and present state and recognized life's beauty again.
Doing asanas, getting in a flow state and sweating in the tropical climate was one thing, but the real changes happened on another level.
Here is what I found. Yoga helped me to:
- Know myself and my essence on a deeper level
- Stop seeing everybody as competition and comparing myself
- Live in a state of presence and ease more often
- Displaying more empathy to others and myself
- Staying focused on whats really important and letting go of superficial attachments
Those things don't sound super sexy and getting to such realizations doesn't happen over night. My year long practice of meditation surely supported me during my asanas (yoga positions), breathing exercises (pranayama) and chanting/praying.
So the time has come to ask yourself some deep questions:
How much time have you spend in your current job, current location, current relationship?
Are you fulfilled in those areas?
Do you even know if you are?
Are you so used to the current situation that you forgot about your true desires?
When was the last time you really connected with yourself?
Can you even hear the voice of your soul or has your life become too noisy?
And most profoundly:
Have you ever looked in the mirror and said to yourself: "Wow, I thought I would be further on my path by this moment…" ?
Remember that you have a whole arsenal of tools within your reach to design your life exactly how you like it.
Yoga is one of those tools to gain greater awareness which leads to clarity and the power to make the right choices.
When you have awareness you will automatically make decisions that serve you...
This was my biggest insight so it is worth repeating it:
Awareness makes you decide on things that naturally serves you.
Most people would do better if they'd knew better, right?
If you got excited about doing a yoga challenge for yourself, you are definitely in the right place at the right time.
I partnered up with a good friend of mine and one of the industry leaders of in-depth yoga trainings.