Research Paper By Khoo Yeelek
(Transformational Coach, CHINA)
As I go through both coaching and yoga at the same time for a couple of years, I slowly came to realized there are very similar in a lot of ways. The essence is really about self-awareness and self-development.
In this paper, I’ll will explore and establish how yoga could be so synonymous with coaching both in principle and practice. And how yoga could add another dimension in the journey of unleashing our true potentials.
Let’s just start by assuming everybody wants to improve the quality of his or her life. And therefore, the question that everyone is asking for is “HOW”. The first inclination is to address our outer circumstances. This may have its validity. Our outer circumstances do have their effect, but our outer circumstances directly reflect the inner, and to ignore the inner by being focused too desperately on the outer is a grave mistake.
So, how do we start looking “in” instead of “out”? Both coaching and yoga are doing exactly that!
If I were to define coaching is one sentence; coaching is about unleashing one’s inner potentials to reach their personal best and I could say the same about yoga. Yoga uses exactly the same principle, self-awareness, uniting the mind, the body and the soul to unleash our inner potential to reach our personal best.
As you may have heard, Yoga is more than just asana (postures) and breathing exercise, yoga is nothing less than the path to your own true self.
Me and the other me
On and off, I’ve started going for yoga classes for close to 7 years by now, but due to my workload and the nature of my job, my practice has been pretty inconsistent until only recently.
2 years ago, I took a 6 months sabbatical and fully engaged with my yoga practice almost daily while at the same time, I started learning about coaching with ICA.
At that time, I might have sensed the synonymous of both yoga and coaching or understood the principles conceptually but I didn’t entirely experience the holistic effect consciously. Now when I reflect back, it may have been that I was so eager to practice and practice that I have overlook the whole intention of me practicing them. I was overwhelmed with what I learned and what I saw, I failed to see the integration of the both. Regrettably, I ended up experienced them in isolation even though they were just right in front of me. I could have just linked the dots!
Having said so, it was not all wasted. In fact, not at all. It was the very first time that I experienced joy, peace, calm and being a habitual “control freak”, I was pleasantly surprised that I was totally going with the flow! I had a glimpse of what I called, “the other me”.
Unfortunately, 6 months didn’t last long, and without me realizing it, I was back to work. Within a short time, I have fast lost that “the other me” and life fell back to how I have been leading my life ever since I reach adulthood, controlling, result oriented and dominating, just to name a few. That’s nothing wrong with that, they have given me successes but yet, I like what I experienced with coaching and yoga more. I only realized then that there is a “the other me”, I am capable of being and I’m a happier and more pleasant person.
So where do these unpleasant feelings and behavior come from? And why only now? Apparently, these questions come out a lot, especially from yogis who know what it is to experience loving, expansive states. You know the beautiful, warm hearted, wise person inside you. And I believe I was able to see more of it because I wasn’t only practicing yoga alone, but I was also discovering more about myself with coaching. It was the self-awareness and the practice of self-awareness. It was “going in” and the practice of “learning to stay”.
Since then, I wish there is a “magic wand” where I could transform my self back to the state of how I felt and behaved. But the desire of getting rid of the negative qualities so that I can just be my “good” self is, itself, part of the problem. There is no magic wand, in yoga or in any other spiritual path, for eliminating negativities. Instead, I’ve learned that I need to bring them to consciousness, learn the lesson they have to teach me, and deliberately work with them.
The painful samskaras, deep mental grooves that can lead to negative behaviors, will continue to ambush your thoughts and behaviors until you take a close look at them, accept them as intrinsic aspects of your consciousness, and then release the energy tied up in them so that it becomes available for your personal and spiritual growth.
Shine a light on the dark side of yourself to discover your negative tendencies and change them.
Into the light
There are several core approaches to the shadow, and each of them has value. The classical yoga of Patanjali takes the view that the shadow needs to be purified and, ultimately, eliminated. The traditional prescription is to cultivate virtues such as truthfulness, nonviolence, and contentment and to do purification practices; certain asanas, mantras, and types of meditation will clean out many of the shadow elements of the unconscious.
If you want to begin to resolve the polarized opposites within yourself, you need to shine nonjudgmental, conscious awareness on your shadow. A good place to start is by considering the traits for which people generally criticize you. Maybe you’ve been ignoring feedback from your family, and co-workers that you’re bossy, or hot headed, or a little frustrated with other people’s significant others.
As the same with coaching principle, it is self-directed and is about living with a mindset that is built around positivity and possibility. Coaching can help you to pinpoint the blocks or obstacles that are making you feel “stuck” and help you to move through them. They may also guide you through a life transition, such as finding a new career, or approaching life in a new perspective.
Not until a few months back, I decided to quit my job and I’m going to seriously pursue getting to know more about “the other me” with the power of integrating yoga and coaching. Just as with everything we do in our life, the start of everything is always “Intention”. With a much clearer intention in my practice this time around, my mind constantly bring me back to the intention even when I am off the mat, especially before I start reacting or taking any action. Yoga has further validated to me the power of intention.
The power of Intention
Everything about practicing yoga involves intention – you set apart time in your day to do it, you move in a specific manner, breathe in a specific way. And when you are mindful and deliberate in your life………
The place to start harnessing your power to determine your destiny, to achieve any intention as well as lasting fulfillment, is your own mind. According to the Vedic tradition, the most profound way to affect the course of your life is by harnessing the power of resolution or intention, which in Sanskrit is called “sankalpa”
Sankalpa is the compound of two Sanskrit words: kalpa, which means “a way of proceeding” or, more revealing, “the rule to be observed above or before any other rule” and “san”, which refers to a concept or idea formed in the heart. Thus, sankalpa means determination or wills: an intention, a conviction, a vow, or most commonly, a resolution – one that reflects your highest aspiration.
It happens. Despite your best intention, you find yourself roaming the internet hours past your bedtime, chatting on your phone when you’ve have blocked out time to exercise, or scarfing down a pint of ice cream when you’ve already had enough to eat. If you’ve developed some awareness through your practice, you probably know which behaviors are no longer serving you, and you sincerely want to overcome them. So, it can be frustrating to catch yourself slipping back into old habits.
Fortunately, yoga offers a compassionate approach to making changes. Start by setting an intention for the behaviors you’d like to change, and then actively works towards it without judging yourself when the process takes longer or is less flawless than you’d like. If you do slip into the old habits, forget the impulse to direct disappointment or anger at yourself, and decide to simply start again.
Yoga in a Sanskrit word that can be roughly translated as “union”, or “yoking”, and the ancient sage Patanjali tells us yoga is indeed two things, both noun and verb, a state of being, and the action and practices associated with attaining the state.
The state of yoga is one which the practitioner is no longer at the mercy of the endless spinning of the mind and instead experience a deep awareness of, and an identification with, a consciousness much greater than the individual ego.
In his book, The Book, Allan Watts emphasized the importance of a new personal experience, an experience he describes as, “knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego.”
It is the separation from our Self, each other, nature, and from something greater or higher (be it God, universal consciousness, or whatever term you want to use) that causes the anxiety and chaos symptomatic of our times. It is difficult for us to experience our natural connection with each other when we don’t have that connection with our own Self. Yoga connects us with an inner wisdom, in which there is no doubt as to the connection of all things.
Yoga is a practical method of bringing peace and connectedness back into our lives. Because we are a reflection of our nervous system, the state of our nervous system dictates how we experience the world. If the nervous system is fresh and rested, the body will be healthy and the mind alert and comprehensive. As a result, our thought will be powerful and clear and our actions, which are manifested thought, will be successful and rewarding. Separateness causes suffering and union creates freedom. Yoga is union.
We cannot always control what happens in life but we can definitely control the way we perceive and make meaning of it. – unknown
Yoga, in other words, is nothing more or less than practice of being one’s true, eternal, capital S Self. We do our practice over and over, every day, to slowly stich together mind, body, breath, and spirit. Over time, we learn that sensation and emotion come and go just as trends do. We become familiar with thought that drives us, both good and bad. We get to know ourselves a bit better, and we begin to realize the truth. The mind is a process, not a thing.
The idea that yoga changes you into someone better than the person you were before is something of a misconception. It is more accurate to say yoga helps you remove the obstacles that obscure who you really are, that it helps you come into a fuller expression of your true nature. We are not transforming into something we aspire to. We’re transforming into the very thing that we are innately: our best self.
That brings us then to “what kind of life do we want to create for ourselves”? What is my life purpose? This would be common subject to touch on during a coaching session but little do we realized yoga anchored on exactly the same principle in their teaching.
The yoga tradition provides one of humankind’s most effective systems for achieving happiness in very aspect of life. In the same way that the physical practice of yoga so effectively benefits your body and mind, the larger science of yoga is similarly powerful in unlocking the vast potential best life imaginable. Yoga supreme objective is to awaken and exalted spiritual realization, yet the tradition also recognizes that this state does not exist in isolation from the world and worldly matters. Thus, the science of yoga teaches you how to live and how to shape your life with a commanding sense of purpose, capacity, and meaning. In short, yoga has less to do with what you can do with your body or with the ability to still your mind than it has to do with the happiness that unfolds from realizing your full potential. There may be no more important step to achieving ultimate fulfillment than accepting what the Vedas teach us about desires – that some desires are inspired by your soul.
The tradition also speaks at great length about the necessity of understanding your life’s deeper purpose, because true happiness is dependent on your fulfilling it. Indeed, the failure to develop a clear understanding of life’s purpose is the reason many people are unable to achieve and sustain the happiness that they, deep in their hearts, seek. The challenge we all face is to learn how to take into account the full measure of who we are and use the positive forces to lead to our best life.
Since I have taken the decision to fully immerge in my new lifestyle of coaching and yoga, it is obvious that I’ll be facing the challenges of change. Conceptually I understood the power of shifting perspective and it has always worked when I get to talk to my coach about the challenges. But in the absence of my coach, I starting to realized how unconsciously, my yoga practice is also cultivating my mind to shift perspective every time when I am being too judgmental or being stuck with my beliefs or underlying beliefs that no longer serve me.