Sometimes, my friends and students ask me how can I have a demanding corporate job, sustain my passion for yoga, teach, practice, write, maintain relationships, and have peace of mind. My answer is always the same; I do my practice and stay focused. And by the way, I am not always as focused or as sane as I might seem. A lot of times I run around in circles chasing my own tail. On the one hand, I am very fortunate; I have a very inquisitive mind and many interests. On the other hand, my inquisitive nature becomes a huge obstacle when following my dreams.
Ever since I can remember, I have been a dreamer. I was seeking transformation without even knowing it. I used all kinds of improper tools, but somehow I got lucky and I’m still alive! I have always believed in myself and have always thought of myself as one lucky gal who had many options. Even when life beat me and kicked me when I was down, I knew there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. I have traveled a long way to reach the point at which I am today and there is still a lot of work to be done.
Sometime in 2000, my physical therapist recommended yoga. So, just like many of you, I started practicing yoga because of pain. In the beginning, it was all about asana – physical posture. As I progressed in my practice, yoga became my best tool in the art of transformation. I don’t think this practice is making me a better person. Instead, it is re-arranging what is already in me. It is cleaning my foggy lenses and helping me to observe reality. Most importantly, the practice helps me to re-connect with my inner guidance.
I practiced a lot of different yoga traditions before I decided to take this yoga business seriously. Then I started looking for a teacher. After about a year or so I finally found someone I resonated with. My mentor studied with Mr. Desikachar in the linage of T. Krishnamacharya. In this tradition, teachers emphasize the importance of self-practice and study of the Yogic text. One of the most important texts is the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. Compiled into four chapters, it explains the teachings of yoga in short verses called sutras.
This text became the outline for my practice and a “Manual for Transformation.”
In addition to training my memory and sharpening my listening skills, the text is a practical guide. A few days ago I found my old blog titled: Thoughts on the Plane to New York. I would like to share some of those thoughts with you.
Colorado and Yoga Sutras
My curiosity was what brought me to New York, but my yoga practice took me to the Rocky Mountains. I first went to Yoga Journal Colorado when Mr. Desikachar, my teacher’s teacher, taught there in 2009. It was like a dream; a full week surrounded by Colorado’s mountainous beauty and the united energy of 1,500 yogis, 5 days of T.K.V. Desikachar, Sonia Nelson, Chase Bossart, Gary Kraftsow, remarkable teachers, hiking, and fresh air. I chanted with Menaka Desikachar, ate lunch with Leslie Kaminoff, strolled with Timothy McCall, and listened to Mr. Desikachar’s lectures. I met Yoga Slackers and rock climbed for the first time in my life.
I learned so much and had so much fun. The week flew by and as I was sitting on the plane going back to New York, I was resisting reality. I did not want to go back to the city, my corporate job, and my Brooklyn crib. All I wanted to do is to move to Colorado immediately. Perhaps I could get a simple job and teach yoga. I could ski, hike, and rock climb. Since my brain was being rewired with Yoga sutras, the following few sutras came to frontal lobe:
In the second chapter, Patanjali talks about pleasure and pain.
Y.S.: II.7.sukhanusayi-ragah: Raga – like is holding on to happiness
Y.S.: II.8.duhkhanusayi-dvesah: Dvesa – dislike is holding on to pain
Here I was, attaching myself to the outside experience. I was in the mountains and I was happy. Therefore, I would be always happy if I could just stay there. “I do not want to go back to my corporate job” is the equivalent of saying, “I don’t want to sit on this plane and I don’t want to study Yoga and I don’t want to have experiences.” Only because of my job could I afford to be on that plane.
Would acting on the impulse of a child make me happy? Or would I just be chasing fantasies?
In addition, Patanjali outlined the practice of Yoga. He divided it into eight limbs. Santosa – contentment is one of the components of the internal disciplines.
Y.S.: II.42. santosad annutamah sukha-labhah – By santosa-contentment, there is an unmatched attainment of happiness or supreme joy is attained.
I thought about the situation. Yes, I CAN and will move to CO, but I have to learn how to be content with what I have today and where am I now. That says it all! I will follow my dreams, but not chase fantasies. To me “santosa” also means being grateful.
I have worked really hard to be where I am today and I have so much. If I can’t be happy here and now, then I won’t be happy teaching yoga and living in Boulder. Going to CO helped me to see my path even more clearly. I will continue my training in yoga therapy and spend time in nature exploring, living, and helping people like myself along the way. Anyone can be sane sitting on top of a mountain, but how about on the subway? Someone who is content can find the same paradise whether they are sitting on the subway or hiking Colorado’s diamond peaks. I am not sure if I will ever reach that goal, but I will keep trying and I will enjoy the journey.
So I smiled to myself, the clear blue sky, and white friendly clouds I’d been watching from the airplane window. I will move to CO, but I have to do it responsibly and now is not the right time. I had found my inner happiness and I closed my notepad.
Since 2009, I’ve been spending all my vacation time between Boulder and Estes Park. I continue to follow my yoga dream while working full-time and spending time outdoors. I still have days where I complain to no end, but am I mostly able to see my way through it. My corporate job has become another opportunity to study and make myself better. I teach no more than three hours a week and co-organize outdoor trips. I hike, climb, and ski in New York and CO.
I still fall off-balance and chase my tail, but my daily practice and study of the sutras give me clarity and are helping me focus on the present moment and act from the heart. I think my yoga is working. My teachers always say, if you want to know if yoga is working, ask your spouse…