So many inspiring, touching yoga journeys to read.
Give me a story of transformation through practice, a biography, blog post or memoir, a cup of coffee… and I’m set for the evening.
I am moved by reading about change and breakthrough from lives once lived, finding a constant theme of the latest life is one of a more keen awareness, focused intent and soulful love.
But, I don’t have a yoga-changed-my-life breakthrough story. Instead, I barely remember a life without yoga. Even so, I’m always in a constant state of change. My breakthroughs happen every single time I open my mouth to speak, every time I choose love over fear and every time I choose to work my body on the mat in a way that creates love for myself, just as I am.
Do these experiences sound familiar? Days full of such relevance and connectedness that they end in a feeling of racing toward the stars, whistling along, lovin’ life? Flying at warp speed toward goals, hand-standing with the weight of a feather or moving through sun salutations with the energy of the entire universe.
“I could have practiced for hours,” says Body.
“Let me bathe you in all this connection,” says Heart.
“Let me move you,” says Soul.
Yet when waking the next day, a sudden feeling of flighty irrelevance shakes my determination and molasses slows my steps toward anything infused with light. The world is a weight pinning my spirit, immobile, down to the floor. Screw dreams. Welcome, complacency.
Lesson #1: We are all in this together.
For years, I have gone back and forth between my relevance and my ghost, the me that matters and the me that wonders if anyone would notice if I was gone. One day, my overall life story is both lovely and deep, moving and relevant. The next, I don’t have a story to my name. “Who cares about my story anyway? Who am I to think anyone wants to even hear it?” Ego pipes in. But then Clarity sets in, in all her worldly ways. Oh, Clarity, how I love thee! I would like more of you in this lifetime.
Clarity reminds me that we are all as relevant as we allow ourselves to be. Clarity reminds me that every moment on earth, in class, at home would be different without me there. We are all made of the same matter as the comets and the stars, and therefore belong here as anyone else does. We deserve to be heard, unedited and raw. We deserve to just be.
Lesson #2: Woman-up to choice.
Would my choices be different without yoga? Without my practice, would I choose to allow my soul to become dark and dingy when I lose? Would I fly off the handle when people don’t do what I want them to do? Would I conform to what the world wants me to be, instead of what I want to be?
Maybe. But maybe not. What I do know is that if nothing else, I have choice. It is a total and complete choice to go dark and dingy, or to go raw, real and open. Just as I can choose to blame a yoga teacher for an injury, I can choose to blame the people of the world for my problems. Or, I can woman-up and see that until I heal myself by making empowering choices and follow my own heart, nothing changes except the shift in blame. It’s always that exact crossroads and we are never without the option to choose how we roll.
Lesson #3: We all matter.
Just as we deserve to be heard, we also deserve love. There will be a few tsk tsk tsk-ers to this…but I believe love is a choice. Yes, it is a feeling too, of course. No doubt. I am not doubting unconditional child/parent love, nor am I doubting raw animal-esque new love which could continue years into marriage. I am not doubting the love between two friends who know each other better than they know themselves or the definition of love as we make it our own.
But there comes a time when all love is tested to the extreme. There comes a time when a piece of us wants to run from something…anything. Therein lies the choice. Do we choose love? Or do we choose fear? The right answer is always to choose love. Even if the bond looks different than it used to, even if the picture changes…always choose love in whatever form works.
Lesson #4: Choose Love.
In those times I am called upon when someone needs help choosing love, I have learned to trust myself. I have learned to trust my heart, my mind, my gut and the space I hold for people. If I could tell my younger self one thing, it would be to know that what you have to say is unlike anything anyone has ever heard. We are as much unique beings as we are cut from the same cloth.
Our thoughts, views, minds, visions and variations are unlike anyone else’s. Know this. Own this. Shine this. Don’t forget Lesson #3. Yoga Lesson #5. Shine on. And if you forget, you forget. You might fuck it up. Hopefully daily. Not only is perfection a myth, it’s boring. Put on your eyebrows if it appeases you. Show up au-natural. Get your hair did. Go gray. Get Botox. Swear you’ll never go there. Whatever makes the sheath of your spirit feel good is what you should do. Screw those who judge you for it. Oops! That wasn’t exactly choosing love. So…forgive yourself. Drink a glass of wine, or two. Apologize to yourself if you have three. Know that going clean, vegan and raw is great but may be unsustainable. Or maybe it is sustainable…for you. Choose balance, and define balance as it pertains…to you. Choose forgiveness. Choose your path. Most importantly, don’t try to make it someone else’s.
Lesson #5: Live the life most kind and true to you, and show reverence for the paths of others.
These lessons, these truths, are so close and so attainable. Those days when I really feel lost, I always revert back to these last two steps. I do the things that ground me. I do the things, unapologetically, that feed me.When we are filled up, we have more to give to others. Find out what the constant is in life, and do that.
If writing is the constant, write your ass off to figure it all out (grammatical errors encouraged). Jot down notes on chewing gum wrappers, thumb half-baked blurbs down in your iPhone, start a secret blog that becomes not-so-secret as you grow.
If yoga is the constant, practice yoga every damn day, whether it is ujjayi breath in traffic, practicing Satya as you speak a terrifying truth or retreating to your inner self for five minutes of meditation. Let the things that keep you alive intertwine into the fire that keeps you burning.
Lesson #6: Presence is relevance.
We write. We practice. We teach. We are here. Presence alone is relevance. We are here for a reason. We are here to stand in our truth whether 40 people come to class, or none.
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Assistant Ed: Zenna James/Ed: Sara Crolick