How Yoga Impacted My Life and Others by Hana Sykorova
Ever since my first yoga class at university, when a seemingly easy “Introduction to Yoga” course that I registered for to round up the needed credit hours drew my attention, I knew there was “some kind of magic” in this, what I thought would be, a methodical stretching class. Even though I did not doubt I would benefit from a more flexible body, which, as a runner, was often tight and injury prone, I did not imagine such a feeling of a bliss that I would experience after savasanas, deep rest assimilating all the benefits of the practice, at the end of each yoga session.
Feelings of fear of failure, inadequacy, any kind uncertainty or doubt, all seemed to be reduced or completely absent in this new state of total calmness and deep relaxation. I started taking classes once to twice a week and if I did not manage to take a class in any given week, I no longer felt like myself. Was I addicted?
Sometimes I would get new ideas in the middle of my savasana. I remember one instance when I was living in Greece, where I was under a tight deadline to deliver a project, and suddenly a resolution on how to structure a spreadsheet that would provide answers to what I was trying to analyze, came to me. I was breaking my head over it earlier that week, then in savasana, I let it be, I took a time out from thinking, and the answer appeared. It blew my mind.
I was working a corporate job in New York City, living downtown Manhattan, and competing in triathlons at an elite level, not sure why, and if either was actually making me happy. My job gave me financial stability, but I sensed all the time I wanted something else, something more. However, I was not connecting with my intuition frequently enough to feel confident to take a leap into the unknown, to trust that following my heart, my real passions, would offer me a more fulfilling journey through life, even if bumby at times.
It was when I decided to get my first 200 hours yoga teacher certification, a suggestion of my new boyfriend Enrique at the time, who saw how much I enjoyed practicing, not sure then what I would do with my certificate afterwards, that I had a revelation. I was spending three weeks meditating and practicing asanas more than once daily, when I realized that a lot of what I was doing in life was linked to ego and social conditioning. There was so much untapped potential and happiness if I pursued what I truly loved.
Our ego seeks external gratification, it defines who we are in our society such as ‘a successful salesperson’, ‘frequent podium finisher’, ‘from a good family’, etc. We are taught to seek these kinds of character approvals from ourselves and society, as we are taught to believe these will bring us joy. But do they really?
At this point I had already made the leap to leave the corporate world and my new life goal was to become a professional triathlete. I had told everybody including my old employer this was what I was going to do. Triathlon was something I had excelled at at the amateur level, being on the podium brought me approval from myself and my surroundings. But how much was I doing this for others’ approval and how much for me? That was the big question and the big decision that followed. I decided to continue to compete in triathlons, but not to make it my job. I had already tried a year of professional racing, and now with my increased awareness, I tuned into the understanding that solely focusing on my own performance was not what made my heart tick. I would continue practicing this sport that I loved, stretching my own limits to reach beyond my comfort zone, but would dedicate the majority of my time to the spiritual path of yoga, and being in service to others. It was simply what felt right in my heart and I decided to follow it.
Now I am developing yoga, yoga & cycling, babymoon prenatal yoga holidays and wellness programs.My life changed to living with less fear, despite more financial uncertainty, having trust that doing what I am passionate about, is the right path. Now, whenever doubts set in, I take a look at whether I am practicing yoga and spending enough time in meditation. The answer is usually no, so I try to correct that, I surrender to a higher power and things start to fall back in place again.
The same feeling of zen comes when I teach. Being in service to others is the ultimate fulfilment. Seeing positive changes in my students’ physical and emotional state, is a gift. Helping athletes regain their full range of motion and calm their nervous system to bring themselves into a state of self-healing with yin yoga, to go back to training stronger, is what I meant to do, at least for now, is what I feel.
Surprisingly, my results in triathlon also improved when I started to make them less of my life focus, and I implemented a consistent yin yoga practice into my training regimen. Injury prevention through deep tissue stretching and the state of deep relaxation induced by this practice, is what I strongly believe made the difference between being on the podium in my prior Ironman races to all the way in 1st place at Ironman Nice last year.
I have been able to observe the most profound changes in Enrique, whom I am able to teach most frequently. He leads a high stress life in the financial industry. Getting Enrique to slow down and just be present is not easy. He’s always thinking about the future. But when I do pin him down to practice some asanas, even if just a few poses followed by savasana, the transformation is immediate. He becomes even more loving than his usual self and his gratitude and appreciation for me strengthens the bond between us. When he returns to work, his already creative mind starts to come up with even more ideas. He takes charge and starts to implement them immediately. This is my executive training program, yoga therapy style!
I also became certified as a prenatal yoga teacher. It is amazing to spend time with women who are going through such a huge life change as becoming a mother. Helping them through this transition, developing positive imprints, samskaras, on the baby in the womb through visualization, positive thinking, meditation, chanting, has been an amazing journey for me. I am guide in the process of creating life! The future mothers’ gratitude for a stronger connection with the process inside their body, mind and soul is the ultimate gift to me and makes me feel I am fulfilling my purpose, my dharma, on this planet.
If you have enjoyed learning about my yoga journey, please share it with your friends. I hope you will join me and other members of the La Belle Vie Wellness Team somewhere around the world! See you next month or on our social media platforms.
In deep gratitude for your attention,