November 1, 2013

Finding Peace in Life’s Shakiness: Why Yoga is Good for Everyone.

“Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes of men. Silently and perceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or weak; and at last some crisis shows what we have become. ”

~ Brooke Foss Westcott

 I felt sick during my yoga practice the other day. Well, not so much sick, but, rather perhaps …overwhelmed.

You see, I have a debilitating neurological disorder, one that causes me great pain—and, among other things, quite a bit of wobbling unsteadiness throughout my day. I was drawn to yoga, in part, to help alleviate the manifestation of these issues. But, perhaps more importantly, to help maintain a strong sense of ‘inner balance.’

Most of the time, I’m very much at peace with my body, understanding full well how limitations can lead often to our greatest introspection. But, on this night, I must admit, I was experiencing one heck of a spiritual challenge.

Today, I entered my practice with optimism, determined to find grace in my movement through the positions.

Oh, but that mirror—that stupid, full length, wall-to-wall mirror. There’s no hiding from one’s true reflection, is there?

And, as my body started to wobble, and my hands jittered out of control… my mind snickered,

“Oh yeah? And, just what do you think you’re doing here?”

My dears, the mind can be a fabulous partner on our spiritual journey. Likewise, it can often become our stinkiest, and most horribly competitive, of ‘friends.’ And tonight? My mind’s sharp words nearly shattered me.

I felt so out of place—like a stranger standing out in a far off land. How did this happen?

And, just like that, I started to cry.

My yoga teacher, without ever missing a beat, reached out to steady my hand and offer her ‘correction’ (Yoga teachers, I have learned, love correcting things—I swear they must’ve been elementary school teachers in a former life).

I thought maybe she was just being kind, trying to offer a little nudge of support. But, it turns out she was there for so much more.

Just then, she said something I will never forget—almost as if the universe was speaking through her.

I know…hippie weirdness. But, it’s true.

She said,

“I know you’re upset, but you have to keep pushing through. Turn off your brain, and just move. And, whatever you think you’re seeing as ‘weakness,’ is actually a testimony to your own personal strength.

For every moment you felt you couldn’t, but did anyway.

For every night you cried yourself to sleep, and yet still woke up with gratitude.

And for every instance you felt yourself lost, but helped someone else find their way…that is what all of this wobbling means.”

Amazing how just a few words delivered at just the right moment have the power to transform the fullest complexity of our being.

So, I think tonight I finally made friends with that silly old mirror—and in doing so, found peace inside the shakiest part of my soul.

You know, I used to think that Yoga was only for the strong, beautiful girls—with tightly toned bodies, and graceful, unencumbered movement.

But, now that I think of it, it’s more so for people like me.

Namaste and many blessings my friends—and may we always be open to these moments of hard-won introspection.

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Ed: Sara Crolick

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amphibi1yogini Nov 3, 2013 7:19am

Oh, does this article speak to me. Why don't young yoga teachers understand that balance such as they teach to in the class, is lost once you are no longer young. Why do I always, always have to provide my OWN modifications for this, for lack of hip flexibility (due to internally rotated hips–something I was BORN with), for occasions of lack of stamina?

Why? I had been paying quite good money. This had not been a fast-moving practice. They could have acknowledged my existence and said, "Good that you're using the wall.", "I'll get you another block if you need it …"

I am quite capable of formulating my own practice, and have continually done so. At home.

And some of them wonder that they are losing class participants …
[Not all of us can afford private sessions, which is why they do not endeavor to TEACH in the first place.]

David Nov 3, 2013 1:19am

What a beautiful article, perfectly expressed.

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Tara Lemieux

Tara Lemieux is a mindful wanderer, and faithful stargazer. She is an ardent explorer and lover of finding things previously undiscovered (or, at the very least, mostly not-uncovered.) When she’s not writing, you can find her walking in the woods and sometimes changing the way we look at things, one simple moment at a time. You can contact her at via her website Mindfully Musing
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