I had attempted to escape whatever feeling or emotion I had to face in order to grow, but life has a funny way of playing back the lessons you have yet to learn.
Yoga had never been an integral part of my life, until I suffered a severe back injury that left me bedridden for almost two months, after which point I needed the help of a cane to walk. It took a few months of practice, and it wasn’t until I started practicing Ashtanga yoga daily that I could walk without the help of a cane.
I had an awakening. I was touched emotionally, physically and spiritually. I was inspired to teach. I am now a yoga instructor.
What I got from practicing, studying and teaching yoga are the following:
For most of my adult life I lived like a fugitive, moving from country to country, changing zip codes from one coast to another. Leaving family, husbands, friends, never realizing the only person I had been afraid to face was me.
I had attempted to escape whatever feeling or emotion I had to face in order to grow, but life has a funny way of playing back the lessons you have yet to learn. My legs come to a halt; my spirit was ever so tired of running away in desperate need for acceptance. Yoga helped me see that my state of being had to be fully present so that it could heal with the acceptance of that which is there, of who I was.
It is only when you face your fears, of not being loved, of not being good enough, or not as good as… that you can learn that you are a lovable beautiful being just the way you are. It is through the acceptance of those feelings that I took the power they once had over me, by opening my heart to the person that most needed it—me.
Honesty doesn’t only involve not lying, It involves being truthful and open with ourselves. Knowing who we are, our own limitations. I used to call myself Super Mom-Woman. My thought was that if I did it all, if I was perfect then the love I didn’t have for myself would come in the form of approval, even adulation.
I was always on the go. In our modern society, we women are made to think we can have and do it all, and while this is for the most part true, there is always something that has to give. I am now aware that if I am scheduled to teach five classes in a day, I should probably not book that dentist appointment or do my spring cleaning that day. It also means understanding I should go to bed early if I teach a class at 6 a.m.
3) Self Love
We are taught at an early age to be mindful of others and to love other. As we grow older, the story shifts a bit: Compassion and love are mostly things we are told to have for others. Throughout my life I was told and accepted because I didn’t love myself. I was supposed to look and act to be liked. I allowed any and all energy that, for the most part, wasn’t loving to interfere with building of a true relationship with the self.
Before yoga, I had no compassion for me, and it’s through my practice of acceptance and honesty that I have developed a deeper sense of compassion and love toward the self and the body I reside in. I haven’t watched TV in two years, I was never a magazine reader, and I stay away from any “source” that might tell me a story as to how I ought to look, wear or what I ought to buy.
Love for myself comes with the understanding that I am beautiful because of who I am, the love I feel and give to myself and others.
No cream, no surgery, no shoes nor dress will duplicate the sense of acceptance and love I have for myself.
Teaching brings me a sense of belonging. I am there and I know that is where I want to be. I tell my students when they attend a teacher training and that if they are here for the money, they made the wrong turn.
That is not to say that I am opposed to it. Money is a necessary energy in this world, but it is certainly not a motivator to becoming a yoga instructor. The Universe will always accommodate you, as long as you give it your all.
I have been teaching for a while now, and this is all I do. I have not gone homeless. I eat all organic, all yummy raw vegan food. While I haven’t gone on expensive vacations, I have had all I needed. I teach because I have been touched at a deeper level, I am there to serve the practice and my students mostly. Because I set an intention to be fully present, embrace love, part with ego, become a better version of the self, and dispose of all fear.
When love becomes the driving force, we gain insight, we set intent and we gain purpose.
5) Love what you do.
I was a single mother at a very early age. Most of my adult life I took jobs I had in order to support my son and myself. I found ways to enjoy myself whether I was waiting tables or working at an office, but it wasn’t what I loved doing. I now teach, so that has changed.
There is no secret to living and when we find that thing we love doing and pour ourselves deeply. What we get is an enjoyable and fulfilling life—one in which what we love become what we do, who we are, and the things we inspire others to be.
If you don’t have that, go look for it, and put yourself in a position of making that a possibility. Maybe you can do it now, maybe in six months. But whatever it is, make a plan, and go for it.
Whatever you do, remember to keep your self-love tank full, be honest with yourself. You will gain such insight that things will flow. Whatever comes up, forgive yourself. You are not supposed to be perfect; you are only supposed to be your true self.
Do your best, and that is more than enough.
Find a purpose—that thing that gets you up in the morning, that thing that makes you smile. Do what you love, so you can love what you do. You are here to enjoy this beautiful present called Life, so go ahead. Start now.
Almudena is a writer, SAG actor and Ashtanga Vinyasa 500 RYT. A former long distance runner and Tae Kwon Do Champion, she discovered yoga after a severe back injury left her bedridden for two months. An MRI revealed two torn discs; an expensive disc replacement with unforeseen outcomes was not an option: “I couldn’t accept it, I decided I was going to heal from within, I became a raw vegan and took my first yoga class one Saturday morning, a day I will never forget, and, as it turns out a day that has changed the course of my life forever. I fell in love with yoga, but mostly for who I was and how I felt with it.” She now teaches Ashtanga, Power and Restorative Yoga throughout Los Angeles. She also hosts Teacher Trainings throughout the world. Her next Teacher Training will be in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. April 22-May 18, 2013. For more information you can visit her website—you can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.
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Assistant Ed: Josie Huang/Ed: Kate Bartolotta