Research Paper By Natalia Pinkowska
(Yoga Life Coach, POLAND)
5 years ago I decided to change my life. I tried to adjust to the reality I got stuck in but nothing satisfied me back then. Even more – my life made me miserable. After giving this a lot of thought, I realized that it just shouldn’t be like that. I decided to create my reality and fully jumped out of my comfort zone. The change I chose was a drastic one. Not only quit my job but I also moved to another country. I lost completely all stability in my life. It might sound terrifying but as soon as I made my first step it was too late to go back. Adjusting to the new circumstances required a lot of effort and attention. However, I was on my way to find happiness in life. Isn’t that a great driver?
And here I am now. After many travels, external and internal, I came back to the point where I do what I love, my life is full of passion, and I can honestly admit that I made peace with myself. I am happy with who I am and this acceptance gave me a ticket to a fulfilling life!
More than 10 years ago, when coaching crossed my path while I was studying psychology, I felt that this is something that I wish to do. However, in my twenties, I was under a lot of influences and I didn’t listen to my intuition carefully. I needed a lesson, so I got a job in a fancy advertisement business. What I experienced was connected to a lot of stress, frustration, and pressure. When I left 5 years later, I needed a break. I got into even more of a hectic environment in the tourism industry. At one point, I just stopped – all my life crushed and I didn’t see any exit anymore. All these years, yoga was my springboard from the stress that I had invited to my life. When the final crisis came, I dropped everything and left for India to study this ancient practice more deeply. In time, all the pieces of the puzzle came together. I wished to go back to my educational roots of psychology. I got my new life path as a yoga teacher. I dreamt about bringing together the eastern philosophy of yoga and the western approach coming from coaching. That’s how the Yoga Life Coaching journey appeared in my life and work.
To understand fully the concept of theYoga Life Coaching, it’s important to be clear about the meaning of each part.
Nowadays, yoga is extremely popular. However, often knowledge and practice are reduced to a class of asanas, so simply put, of physical exercises. Many students and teachers bring yoga only to that, or even worst, reducing this ancient philosophy to fat-burning programs, etc. Although the wisdom of yoga goes much deeper, beyond physically. Today’s knowledge about the theory and practice of yoga is coming from the ancient text of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The word yoga is defined in the second sutra as “Citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ’’. One of the translations says “Yoga is a tendency (vrtti) to control (nirodhaḥ) attention (Citta)”. This statement gives a direction towards a pivotal role of the mind in this process. Furthermore, the Sanskrit word ‚yog’ means “union” which might be found through practice between the body, mind, and heart (soul). Yoga speaks universal truths without a need for laboratory research. It is an eastern science of life, developed over thousands of years, which are the main proof of efficiency. The Eight Limbs of Yoga presented by Patanjali bring guidelines to complete yoga practice. By promoting healthy work on the body, mind, and spirit, the promise of suffering liberation is given, what in other words might mean a balanced and happy life. The focus of yoga is on the presence. Being ‘here and now’ helps nowadays ‚monkey minds’ to slow and quiet down. Achieving that is a starting point where coaching can support the change focused on the future.
ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
Coaching has it as given that every mentally healthy human being has an inner potential which, if used properly, can bring them to achieving a satisfying life. The process is designed in a way to support clients in bringing up this uniqueness through powerful tools like active listening, questions or just creating trust and intimacy for exploration and growth. The idea behind this method is to bring the future into the picture. While yoga is focused on the here and now – coaching is supporting in goal setting. In the ideal world, objective set at the sessions is concerned with the skills, features, or attributes which might help you to resolve present obstacles in reaching happiness and fulfillment. Identifying underlying beliefs, building awareness and a new perspective is essential for the process of change.
Yoga and Coaching
A coach, as well as a yoga teacher, is inviting the client to a journey of self-discovery. While Indian ancient practice is creating peace within the here and now through connecting to the body and calming the mind, coaching is supporting through unfolding feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that are not beneficial in the present. Together they are taking a step further towards a better quality of life.
There are a few qualities that are most notably visible in yoga and coaching and deserve to be mentioned. In both methods connecting to oneself seems like the priority for a successful outcome. To get there, self-awareness is mandatory. Both practices fairly glorify non-judgment, acceptance, and gratefulness as a way of being and perceiving a surrounding. They match also in seeing great potential in a unite which is enough in its existing form. However, it still can grow and improve. In the end, the main higher purpose in both is to achieve peacefulness and wisdom.
As it was already said, yoga speaks universal truths that similarly are found in coaching. All of that is connected to life and its main domains.
YOGA LIFE COACHING in The World
The mentioned method is not a discovery. It has many faces and is in use mostly in the western world like the United States. One of the promotors of combining these two practices Elena Brower. Through yoga and life coaching she “teaches “Personal Integrity” to all aspects of being”. Within the connection to the heart, the dreams are evolving. Using the power of the mind, these dreams are coming to the planning zone. Furthermore, among the body, it’s possible to execute the plan. As in Yoga Life Coaching, the method is noticing the alignment between the body, mind, and heart. She is mentioning four main yoga elements that resonate with coaching values: oneness, truth, alignment, love. What is common for both – Elena Brower “Personal Integrity” and the Yoga Life Coaching – is observing clear links and tremendous worth on connecting the eastern philosophy and western coaching.
To make use of the Yoga Life Coaching, pivotal is to open your heart and mind at least to the point of non-judgment, active self-observation, and self-curiosity. There is big importance behind the process of purification coming from provoking, confronting, and releasing the illusion made by your mind. Time and patience are a requirement. Therefore, establishing a supportive and trusting environment might be significant to proceed, as for professional support like a yoga teacher or a yoga life coach. Nowadays, there are many social norms and expectations which you are easily adopting while creating the definition of self. Trusting the individual’s inner voice and following a path of awareness might not be easy since you will need to confront reality as it is. Despite that, it will be a choice which you will never regret. And don’t worry once you start this process, it will be within you forever if only you wish for it. It will grow and the harvest will come at the right time.
There are many ways to understand Yoga Life Coaching. All of the name parts can easily exist separately and still have a tremendous impact on who you are. You can live a ‚yoga life’ and connect through the body to your heart which might be understood also as the soul. On the other hand, if you will decide to commit to a ‚life coaching’ process, you will unite your mind and heart in the process of transformation and reconnecting to yourself. It is also possible to ‚coach yoga’, however, I prefer to say instead ‚teach yoga’ since it carries so much of spiritual values. No matter to which you will commit, in my opinion, you have already won. Nevertheless, connecting in life yoga and coaching seems like the full variety of alignment between body, mind, and heart. Within them collectively, there is a promise of deep transformation and harmonious life after the process. The only question left is when will you decide to step on this path and sink in out of your comfort zone?
Biggest appreciation and word of gratitude to my yoga philosophy teacher Acharya Yogesh and the team of teachers at Oceanic Yoga Center, who brought me on the path of awareness and supported in the full of doubts beginning.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Swami Satchidananda