When my alarm clock goes off on a Sunday before sunrise, I just go.
It doesn’t have to make sense, I’m a runner. My body wants to stay in bed and I need a way to sneak out without making up an excuse. I could talk myself into going back to sleep, but I choose silence—I run.
I’m not fast, but I go because it feels great; it just takes sidestepping that lazy body that lays stagnant. It’s the will to transcend laziness—to break free—just one small battle, but day by day, week by week I feel my body become stronger.
There’s a flow to it. I’m moving forward, I’m going places. Not just my body…my life.
I’ve become a yoga teacher because I’m a runner. It wasn’t a straight line. But, you usually start moving forward before knowing where you’re going; that’s the only way to reach places you haven’t dreamt of.
I always liked to run, then I started testing myself: going farther, running for a long time. I became disciplined about my training and started upping my weekly mileage. Then I injured my IT Band and my doctor made me take my yoga practice more seriously and become more disciplined.
I realized it was something serious that I needed to tend to when I found myself limping on my way to sign up for a half marathon.
I was blinded by wanting to run—it took a lot of pain for me to stop and notice.
I had to step back for some time, to let my body heal and reconnect. I realized I had to take better care of my body if I wanted to continue moving forward, or my body wouldn’t work. I was hurting myself by doing something “healthy.”
It was frustrating not being able to run—my mind needed it.
Practicing yoga made sense to my body—it felt great. The relentless moving forward of running found balance in the quietly staying still of asanas. It’s like one thing feeds the other and I became deeply connected into my body.
At first I didn’t manage most of the circus poses and they really didn’t make a lot of sense to me. I saw in them the same thing that had happen to me running: people thinking they’re doing something healthy by practicing yoga and then hurting their neck in headstand or overdoing their vinyasas.
But, I also found various unexpected results that made a lot of sense:
I lost weight. For me, it’s more important to calm anxiety than to burn calories. I eat less when I’m being mindful.
I slept better. Which is key to training, and allows your body to feel refreshed…and that helps you not to hit “snooze.”
It helped me focus. Other things in my life became clearer.
With eating better, sleeping more and running long distances, I felt great.
It’s about connecting with your personal silence—knowing is a happy cosmic silence. You can do it with pranayama, with hill repeats or in any other way. And you don’t have to be a flying pretzel circus yogi. There’s no need to speed up and qualify for the Boston marathon. It’s right here, right now. We can easily go beyond our bodies, beyond ourselves, but we usually need a little bit of a kick.
I signed up for teacher training, only wanting to go deeper into my own practice.
I’m way too shy to teach, but then I learned that teaching is an extension of your practice. It’s your practice outside yourself and in the service of others. It’s a higher purpose for your own salutations. It helps you connect with something bigger or at least with other people who will chant Om with you, and for me that’s big.
When I see people practice yoga, it’s sometimes amazing how removed they are from their bodies…how the idea of getting into a pose can make someone willingly hurt themselves.
Pull yourself beyond your limits and your whole body will tense up in resistance, but if you work your limits with discipline they start to melt.
Mindfulness is key, and a little common sense.
Recently, I heard the story of a guy who found a way to survive disease, change his life, and become stronger and wiser—but I have this reflex resistance to the highly dramatic story. I’m uncomfortable with stories that are so positive and powerful that they would test well with focus groups.
However, when this guy got up in an arm balance with his feet behind his head, I had a moment of clarity: this is what all those circus poses were made for. It shows easily that we can transcend ourselves. We can go beyond our bodies and whatever difficult situations we face.
It’s a powerful way to reach out and let people know that there’s hope; we are more amazing than we can imagine.
It’s fast…and I’m slow…but I get it.
And we really don’t need to have a terribly difficult situation; we really don’t need to be kicked in the face. We each have our own circus—our own ways that may appear weird to others. You stand on your head or run trails for long hours. You follow your heart and live in your bones. Nothing can touch you.
We each set our alarm clocks and choose to either ignore them or go.
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Assistant Ed: Terri Tremblett/Ed: Bryonie Wise