Six keys to success in yoga

Natalie Snooke - Tuesday, January 28, 2020

We love the feeling of 'succeeding' in anything.

Achieving our goals, being our best or just going beyond where we think we can, is what stirs our psyche and our human growth. There's a natural part of us that wants to succeed.

But success in Yoga is different.

And if we don't distinguish yogic success, from our everyday take on success, then we run the risk of 'yoga' becoming just another thing that we idealise or get hooked into, and then just as quickly become disinterested or disillusioned with.

Yoga has been around for 5000 years, as far as we know from archaeological remains.  Through centuries of war and cultural upheaval in India right up to our modern day, it has reliably stood the test of time.

Ancient yogis were more than just practitioners or teachers. They were highly-evolved scientists,  psychologists and meditators who closely developed, practised, studied and mapped the energetic effects of various mindsets and techniques on the human body, human mind and our consciousness within it - and developed a complete system and pathway for others to follow.  

Yoga - more than just physical practice

More than just a physical practice intended for our health and fitness, Yoga is the foundation for enlightenment. It is about awakening the subtle, dormant energies within us, to enable us to grow beyond our egoic identity and to reach our full psycho-spiritual, human potential.

Put another way, Yoga is about feedom. It enables us to live in true happiness and harmony within ourselves, in our family, in our society and in the world.

So even when we become flexible enough to touch our toes, stable enough to do a headstand or able to sit still to meditate, whilst they're all great accomplishments, there's still a depth that Yoga offers you to explore!

Success in Yoga therefore comes from understanding how to adjust our approach and our attitude for the long-term, so that Yoga can truly go to work for us and generate the freedom that's possible from the inside-out. 

Like venturing on any sincere journey, having a reliable map makes a big difference. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika written in the 15th century is one of the oldest texts that offers us timeless wisdom and guidance on what to do and what not to do, for success in Yoga.

Translated from Sanskrit, verse 16 says:

“Enthusiasm, perseverance, discrimination, unshakeable faith, courage, avoiding the company of common people, are the six causes (keys) which bring success in Yoga”.

You may have been surprised to learn that success in Yoga involves being mindful about how we approach ourselves, and our life - not just what we 'do' on the yoga mat. Let's briefly explore each one - and don't get put off by the wording of the last point mentioned.

1. Enthusiasm

 Having a positive attitude matters. What do you enjoy about yoga? What does it allow or do for you?

Remind yourself of the positive benefits you experience. Find ways to refresh your inspiration and interest to practice (or teach, or both). Find a wise, uplifting teacher(s) who inspires and encourages you always to do your best.

2. Perseverance

Be patient and be prepared to motivate yourself when you feel like giving-up.

If you find yourself pushing, back-off before you get injured or burn-out. Practice Yoga as regularly as you can so that the benefits stay with you and have the chance to deepen and transform you. If you practice just once per week, although this is better than nothing, be realistic that the practice will have minimum benefit.

Perseverance ensures we don't stray from the path.

3. Discrimination

 Know what supports you and what doesn't support you in being your best, and learn to say a firm, yet gentle 'no' when you need to. This applies to diet, daily routines and relationships. Having healthy personal boundaries is essential so that we don't become overwhelmed by our life 'taking up' all of our energy so that we have nothing left to give to ourselves - or time for Yoga practice..

4. Unshakeable faith

 Yoga works, it is a life-changing system, if we give it the chance! But its really normal to doubt yourself.

Have faith in yourself to grow, let-go and change. Have faith in your teachers who can see you, as well as your potential. Trust in the fact that you are drawn to the practice, even if you don't always understand what's happening or think its working.

Having unshakeable faith reminds us that there's something beyond the limited thoughts and opinions we hold on to.

5. Courage 

True courage is not about being a hero, but the opposite. According to studies on wholeheartedness by Brene Brown: "Courage is borne out of vulnerability, not strength”.

 Be deeply honest with yourself and vulnerable with your loved ones. Have the courage to tackle the difficulties you face in all aspects of your life, as well as the hard conversations. Sometimes just admitting your own fear and vulnerability can be a great first step.

6. Keeping good company

The conscious energy we stir through our bodies, minds and hearts in Yoga is precious, and easily drained by people who are less conscious. Making time for quiet self-reflection and integration outside of our practice or classes is an essential key to success. 

Being in the regular company of others who practice Yoga really helps. Avoiding the company of anyone who drains our energy or does not support our life choices, is also important. This may involve limiting time with family or cultivating new, more like-minded friendships.

This sums-up success in Yoga - notice that its more about being and becoming - about making wise choices, simplicity and conserving our energy, than about making physical progress towards some idealised state. 

While we might want the magic forumla that gives us quick results, as a wise teacher once said to me: "In Yoga, the tortoise always wins the race."

May this serve you to enjoy success in Yoga, wherever you may be on the journey. 

Natalie Snooke is the founder and director of Momentum Coaching & Yoga in Perth, established in 2007. She is a Registered Member of Yoga Australia and the International Coach Federation. A mindfulness specialist and heart-centred, inspired teacher and coach, Natalie specialises in guiding men and women to develop authentic presence, radiance and compassion to transform in their personal and professional lives. 


Happiness comes from being comfortable with yourself and comfortable with others

Natalie Snooke - Tuesday, February 05, 2019

I used to think that changing myself and changing others was the main answer to the challenges I faced in life.

I've always been a bit of a crusader, not afraid to step up and make a change, or to encourage others to do the same. And on the surface, there's nothing wrong with that.

But as I grow older, I've come to realise the greater power and beauty, and ultimately success, that lies in being comfortable with things and people, just as they (and we) are.

The opposite of judgment, being comfortable is about acceptance.

Being comfortable means we are relaxed. Being comfortable allows space for natural wisdom, focus and creativity. Being comfortable means we can access the potential, peace and tranquility that is already within us.

It's not to say that we shouldn't make an effort to act, speak-up or change what we feel called to, in any moment. Sometimes taking a strong stand is what's needed. But we can (and should) do our best to engage in life from a place of acceptance, first and foremost.

If we're honest, the need to change or control is often driven by emotive states like guilt, deserved-ness, anger, shame, worry, blame, envy or resentment. And if that's all we base our motivation on, we can expect to suffer. 

So much of our reactivity (and later regret) stems from what we say or do out of our own discomfort - when we don't own or accept something about ourselves, about another person or about the circumstances we find ourselves in.

Indeed, the paradox of acceptance and being 'comfortable' also means that we are comfortable with feeling uncomfortable too. We have to come to terms with accepting that we might not be so accepting!

As this new way of being opens up in me, I notice that life feels innately easier, calmer and more joyful. I notice subtle synchronicities and a 'flow' that tells me I'm on track.

It takes practice and self-awareness to step-back from driving ahead with controlling and creating change as I've been conditioned to do for so many years. But each time I do I feel an enormous sense of ease and relief. 

Next time you are faced with a decision, challenge or opportunity to learn I encourage you to ask yourself:

* What can I become more comfortable with, in myself? 
* What can I become more comfortable with, in others?
* What can I become more comfortable with, about life?

Please get in touch if you have any reflections you'd like to share. You can reach me at:

With gratitude and kindness,

Natalie Snooke is a coach, facilitator, yoga/meditation teacher and the founder and director of Momentum Coaching & Yoga in Perth, established in 2007. She is a Registered Member of Yoga Australia and the International Coach Federation. A heart-centred leader, Natalie specialises in guiding men and women to develop authentic presence, confidence, creativity and compassion in their personal and professional lives, through Self-awareness.


Why the only way to start your day is with intention

Natalie Snooke - Tuesday, February 27, 2018


How we choose to start our day says a lot about how our day (and our life) will unfold.

Making the intentional change to an early-morning yoga and meditation practice in my early 30's has been one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Sometimes I still have to work at it but I never regret the effort I put in to start my day in a conscious way - it gives me the strength, joy, courage and perspective I need to face life gracefully.

According to ancient Yoga philosophy, the early-morning hours around sunrise is called Brahmamuhurtha. It means 'the creator's hour.'

This is a powerful time when our heart and our mind is naturally open, creative and the most receptive. If you listen to the birds at sunrise, they seem to know this magic!

So when we use the early morning hours to be with ourselves through the body and the breath (as opposed to doing other things, as tempting as they might be) it really pays off.

In our complex, fast-paced, modern lives we all need to find good ways that nurture and sustain us, or run the risk of burning out - and ultimately living an unfulfilled life.

A self-practice like yoga or meditation allows us to discover and tap into an inner source of energy that is life-giving and empowering.

Over time, the regular habit of 'turning inward' results in a relaxed presence and more energy, with better access to our creativity, our wisdom, our capacity to love, to make wise decisions and to be the best person we can be.

How do you start your day?

Perhaps yoga or meditation isn't your thing, but choose something that resonates with you and leaves you feeling relaxed, centred and energised for your day ahead.

And if you've never given yourself early-morning time before, rather than reach for the IPhone or get busy with the kids or your to-do list, I invite you to try a new habit - first take time for yourself - and see what a difference it makes.

Here are some tips to try:

💠Set up your yoga mat, meditation cushion or your quiet space the night before, so you're ready-to-go.
💠 Keep your IPhone out of the bedroom - use an old-fashioned alarm clock or clock radio if you need an alarm.
💠 Say to yourself last thing at night: when I awake, I will give time to myself first.
💠 Give yourself 15-45 minutes (whatever you can) to breathe, move, journal, sit quietly, meditate or practice yoga. Do it just for you!
💠 Commit to doing this for a whole week, or a whole month, and see what a difference it makes.

If you find that this approach to your day works, then why not adopt it as 'your way' and notice how it sustains you over the longer-term.

Our Intentional Living Group Coaching Program will help you with the mindset, skills, approaches and inspiration to deepen your self-awareness; increase your capacity for change and to accomplish the goals and vision you set out for yourself.

Wishing you focus, energy, and the fulfilment of your deepest desires in life - today and always!

Natalie Snooke is an experienced Mindful Leadership Coach, Yoga and Meditation Teacher and the founder of Momentum. She specialises in guiding men and women to develop focus, presence, creativity and compassion in their personal and professional lives. She has a background in human resource management and takes a pragmatic yet light-hearted approach to her work.


How yoga and gardening get you back to your true nature

- Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Most days my garden is my yoga. Its a joy and an ongoing reminder of impermanence and the cycle of birth, growth, flourishing and decay.

As a self-confessed gardening nerd, as well as a yogi, I love sharing tips and tricks with other more experienced gardeners and, most of all, just being 'in it' - outside with nature's green, the air and the earth.

Maybe it’s the oxygen and the beauty of nature or maybe it is just the thrill of watching something growing and transforming day by day.  Just like us, anyone with an observant eye will notice that a garden is forever changing. Not only from the seasons and weather patterns but also the animals that inhabit the space and our skills and impacts as gardeners - and as yoga practitioners.

The more I think about it, the cycle in a garden mirrors the yoga journey throughout our lives.

Sowing a seed in yoga practice first requires a healthy foundation, just as a gardener needs to tend the soil before planting. There needs to be just enough sunlight and the right combination of healthy soil and water for seedlings to burst through the soil.  In yoga practice, there needs to be just the right amount of focused yet relaxed attention, control of the breath and placement of the body for the energy to flow. 

In a garden, it’s all about the soil. It needs to be well-fed with just the right amount of nutrients for plants and flowers to grow well - and so too for us.

For yoga practice to work its wonders, our body needs the best nourishment we can give it – fresh, high-quality food in the right proportions, adequate water, plenty of rest and tender loving care. Over time through consistent self care, we begin to notice positive shifts in our physical, mental and emotional health, just as a plant begins to thicken its stalk and produce branches. 

In plants and in our yoga journey, the small changes that happen day by day are almost imperceivable but after a while, we notice just how much growth there's been.

We might notice how we have become calmer, how our tight hips have loosened or our self-esteem has improved after a few months of regular practice. Just as we might realise how tall a plant has become and delight as tiny blossums appear.

An experienced gardener expects results from their garden instantly. They might think that just planting a shrub will result in it growing! Whereas the seasoned gardener, just like the seasoned yogi, knows there is a little more to it. The key to that shrub really flourishing is the careful planning, soil cultivation and patience - just as the seasoned yogi knows the importance of having the right mindset and lifestyle to support yoga practice so we flourish in the long term. 

 Gardeners also know that there are times when we need to prune, to cut right back to the base of a plant in order for it to survive and thrive. It can look stark, bold and be quite scary to do. But after a few weeks its amazing how thickly and beautifully a plant will respond with new shoots and growth.

In a yoga practice, time and time again we need to come back to the basics. Back to the moment, back to the breath and the simplicity of it all, rather than trying to add another technique or try another yoga style or another yoga teacher. Although it can be confronting to come back to the basics rather than to entertain the whims of the mind, in yoga, less is more.  Simplicity leads to a depth of growth and inner stability, often in surprising ways.

Just as you'd think about your garden, consider where you are at in your life and in your yoga practice:

  • How might you better tend to yourself and your yoga practice?
  • Are you allowing enough time for your yoga practice (and your self growth) to really flourish?
  • What nutrients are missing from your self-care? 
  • Does anything need to be pruned back for you to rediscover simplicity?

Both gardening and yoga are about connecting us with nature and noticing things just as they are. And they are the perfect fit when it comes to reconnecting us with our true, inner nature - that's calm, content and blissful.

Happy gardening and happy yoga!

Alison Hilton has been teaching yoga at Momentum for six years and specialises in pre and postnatal yoga classes. When not refining her tree pose she is most likely to be found pruning one or smiling joyfully in her garden!  


Yoga and love

Natalie Snooke - Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Love – many would say is life’s greatest mystery.

Yet many also come to find that through the paths of yoga, meditation and other forms of spiritual practice, love becomes something more knowable than they ever thought possible. Myself included.

When we think about love, it’s usually the romantic or emotional form.

When we ‘love’ somebody it creates a myriad of feelings such as joy, tenderness, care, affection, appreciation, wonder and lust, towards them. Love has an emotional attachment to it – and we cannot help that. It is our human instinct to want to be bonded to another and to be ‘loved’.

Yet there is also another kind of ‘love’.

A love that transcends emotional attachment. It has to do with presence. It has to do with a deeper, inner, pure form of love. And it is this form of deeper love that, if we are open, we can learn to experience through yoga.

The poet Rumi says: “Love is the bridge between you and everything.”

When we are relaxed and present, and not identified with our egoic mind, thinking and emotions, we experience a deeper state of consciousness that we call presence - or awareness, higher Self or spirit. To experience ourselves as presence, whilst on one hand is simple, is not always easy because of our conditioned habit to identify with our mind and emotions.

When we are truly present with another person, it means that we are not trapped in the judgements of the egoic mind. Our presence is clear. And we can also see and sense the other's clear presence. We feel connected. And if we stay gently yet intentionally attuned, we realise that this shared presence is energetically very real.

When we are truly present, we come to ‘love’ the other person because we recognise the same presence of who we are, in another.

Regardless of someone’s personality (which is just the conditioned mind and its patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving) we recognise that we are all the same – this sameness, this energy, this connection is love at its deepest level.

When yogis say they ‘feel the love’, which may be taken jokingly, chances are they genuinely mean it! We don’t need to be in a relationship with someone to sense this presence and love.

Feeling this deeper love is always available to us (whenever we are present, that is) and it is deeply satisfying. The Ancient Greeks referred to this kind of love as agape meaning the divine, highest form of love or the unconditional, selfless love of one person for another.

“Love ultimately, is true love beyond emotion, it is the recognition of yourself in the other.” Eckhart Tolle

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the emotional form of love – it’s just that we need to understand its limitations.

We need to be aware that emotional love changes form and can easily turn into many other emotions such as frustration, guilt, sadness or its opposite: hate. If we therefore rely on emotional love from someone else to feel happy and good about ourselves, then we are ultimately setting ourselves up for disappointment and dissatisfaction.

However, if we commit to seeking a deeper love, then we have the chance to potentially enjoy lifelong fulfilment. The first step is to experience and trust the presence or awareness in ourselves.

Whilst all authentic forms of yoga cultivate presence, there is one yogic path that also cultivates love. Bhakti Yoga is the path of union through devotion. Bhakti is characterised by the yogic practices of mantra repetition and chanting to cultivate a direct experience of deeper love. These practices work because they bypass the judgmental, egoic mind and connect us straight to the heart.

One final note. Even if you happen to have a sense of deeper love, you cannot force another to find it. One must undertake the inner journey and discover it for oneself. We might plant the seed, but it is up to the other person to want to water it!

And if you are lucky enough to be in an intimate relationship where emotional love is present as well as deeper love, then that is cause for gratitude and great celebration, over and over again.

I leave you with these words of love, again by Rumi:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

With love,

Natalie Snooke is the founder of Momentum and an experienced coach, mindfulness and yoga teacher. Natalie guides others to live with greater courage, compassion, purpose and authenticity. Apart from her regular classes held at Momentum, she runs inspiring and engaging workshops, retreats in Perth, Bali and India, as well as individual coaching programs. 


How to practice authentic yoga

Natalie Snooke - Friday, August 14, 2015
Despite the modern popularity of yoga as a form of exercise, asana or the physical postures, form just the tip of the yoga iceberg.
And whilst I don't mean to scare anyone or bombard you with mystical mumbo-jumbo, whether you're trying yoga for the first time or the hundredth time it's important that you know if what you're practicing isreallyyoga or not.And therefore realistically what you can expect to get out of it.

Authentic yoga is spiritual in nature. Yoga is a process of self-discovery and awakening to our highest Self. Authentic yoga involves mental discipline and a philsophical commitment to yoga as a way of life that leads to inner happiness and freedom.
Beyond all the hype of sexy postures on yoga magazine covers, adorned bodies and lofty promises that say yoga is all sweetness and light, it's important you know that the true gifts of yoga require real work, and are worth working for.
After all, authentic Yoga is powerful, beautiful and profound. It has the potential to blow your mind without needing to give you the best body, or anything else for that matter, other than to reveal the natural, loving essence of who you really are. And you deserve to enjoy the entire fruit of yoga and not just to eat the skin and throw away the flesh!
Yoga's Traditional Roots

Yoga has its roots dating back to the Indus civilisation some 5000 years ago, where ancient texts such as the Vedas, the Upanishads and later the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali described highly evolved rituals, mantras and practices in order for one to overcome the limitations of the body, the delusions of the senses and the pitfalls of thought. As such, Yoga is recognised as one of six classical schools of Indian philosophy. Meaning that 'Yoga' is a complete system, for attaining higher consciousness and liberation from ignorance and suffering - and reaching one's highest potential.

Only in relatively modern times has the role of yoga asanabeen over-emphasised to such a misleading extent that the phrase 'doing yoga' and 'yoga class' have become common mainstream expressions albeit used incorrectly. Asana is a small, though quite useful part of a much bigger system that is designed for spiritual liberation, and actually not for just a healthy, strong or flexible body.

Yoga is a spiritual system with a physical component, and not the other way around.

As Swami Jnaneshvara of the Himalayan Yoga Masters Tradition states "To understand the recent devolution that Yoga is only a physical exercise program is one of the most essential steps for the modern seeker of authentic Yoga."
That is not to say that the practice of authentic Yoga is reserved for Indians or those wishing to give up their life and meditate in the Himalayas! Yoga is a timeless system that surpasses creed and culture, although it must be practiced carefully and patiently over a long period of time if it is to be truly effective. If it is to bring us any long-lasting ease and inner joy.
Authentic Yoga
The main objective of Hatha Yoga (the branch of yoga that is most widely practiced in Australia and other Western countries) is to create an absolute balance of interacting activities and
Yogi's celebrating sunset
processes of the physical body, mind and energy. When this balance is created, the individual's consciousness naturally expands beyond their usual limitations. Increasing depths of love, creativity and joy are all the natural byproducts of the process of liberation. However if Hatha Yoga is not used for this purpose, then it's true objective is lost.
On an authentic Yoga path, under the guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable teacher, a yoga student follows a number of different aspects to bring about holistic self-development:
  • Relationships - building relationships with others and contributing to society through values and practices (known as yamas and niyamas) such as non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing and non-possessiveness. This means taking responsibility for our behaviours and actions towards others, and actively cultivating qualities that make us a more compassionate, understanding, peaceful and well-rounded. Which all makes life much easier for us.
  • Senses - training the senses in order to consciously and positively regulate them, known as pratyhara. This means monitoring cravings (or attachments) and getting away from what we don't like (aversions), knowing full well that unless we train ourselves we're likely to live like on a pendulum, swinging from one attachment and aversion to the next, without finding a natural balance in the middle. Yes, it is possible through authentic yoga!
  • Body - working with the body through postures and movements so as to make it flexible, strong and steady, called asana. Then the body can sit still for the deeper practices of pranayama and meditation.
  • Breath - training the breath to make it smooth, slow and serene, also known as pranayama. From a serene breath naturally comes a serene mind.
  • Mind - dealing with the mind and emotions at all levels, including concentration (dharana) meditation practice (dhyana) and overcoming the habituated patterns of the mind and emotions which show up in everyday life that lead to dissatisfaction and suffering. Then reaching a state of mental clarity and expanded states of consciousness.
The overall goal of Yoga is beyond each of the parts. If a balanced approach is not taken, and one part is emphasised over the others, then we will only encounter further obstacles to their self-growth and not be able to reach their full potential.
Progress on the authentic Yoga path is characterised by life becoming generally easier, the heart becoming more open and the mind becoming generally quieter, although there will be ups and downs along the way.
I remember my very first idea of Yoga. To me it meant 'hippies putting their legs behind their heads'. And I couldn't have been further from the truth. After 10 years of solid practice and teaching, I can honestly say that the limbs of Yoga keep working away to smooth out my rough edges and create deeper stillness and clarity than before. From this experience, I know that authentic Yoga works and that I am still a work-in-progress.
So next time you're tempted to explore yoga or to try and take a short-cut, remember what authentic Yoga is all about. I encourage you to dive-in. Find good teachers who you resonate with. Ask questions. Practice breathwork and meditation. Develop a home yoga practice. You won't be disappointed and your potential will probably surprise you!

With blessings,

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