I’ve done the cleanses and tried to go vegan, but that lasted about 3 hours because… I love cheese. I also have a bit of a belly because I’ve given birth three times and no matter how much cardio I do, it's still there. So, why would anyone want to take a yoga class with me? Good question.
I’m willing to be vulnerable, open, do, learn, and re-do. Because I, even as a teacher, am constantly learning how to find balance and stay honest with myself. Despite all of my flaws, yoga has been my map to finding peace with myself.
The following is an homage to the seven best gifts that yoga has given me:
Acceptance: Of all of me. Particularly, my physical body, and all the changes it has undergone through the heavy partying of my early twenties, to pregnancy in my late twenties, to stage IV cancer in the past year, and the healing process I’ve gone through. I am still here, in this body, which has been so strong and served me well.
Awareness of patterns that do not serve me: Yoga creatively allows for exploration on every different level, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual, even if it’s not intentional. For example, there was a time where I dreaded going to practice. Once I became aware of my state of mind before class, I asked myself why (especially since I always felt great afterward). Simply being aware is a profound catalyst for change. When I dug into why, I realized that I felt “less-than” because I would push through a vinyasa practice, despite being exhausted. It wasn’t the yoga poses or the teacher or the advanced practitioners in class, it was my ego pushing and striving to be “better”.
The ability to let go: Being able to let go of physical tension in my neck and shoulders was in essence a practice of letting go of burdens mentally. Letting go of the expectation before practice of my body “bringing it” and accepting that I may have to take child’s pose in the middle of the flow because I’m so sleep deprived from a baby who was up all night crying and working so many hours. Our body sends us messages that our ego wants us to ignore. I’ve learned that in yoga and in life, less is more.
The ability to forgive myself and therefore, forgive others: If I couldn’t physically do a pose, I would literally berate myself to sh*t in my head. When in reality, my 5’2 frame is just not built to do the same poses in the same way as the 5’11 svelt teacher. It’s like asking my brown eyes to be blue. When we soften our thoughts with a gentler approach, we are able to forgive ourselves and accept every part of who we are and then, become unafraid to see what really is. The more love we cultivate for ourselves, the more love we can cultivate for others and the world can begin to heal.
Less worry, significantly less stress: Working full time and all that comes along with forming a career path is enough to be in a constant state of fight-or-flight. With all of the pressure we put on ourselves, yoga is the one place where we can let all of that go and accept the moment now, that nothing external of ourselves is needed. How relieving.
Trust in the voice of inner wisdom: Listening to the soft, subtle murmurings of intuition is a practice I have yet to master, but yoga has brought me closer to it. I tend to get caught up in the ego, whose domineering, masculine energy speaks so loudly that it is so difficult to tune out. Ego is always there, feeding off of the fear du jour- a constant stream of “am I good enough at motherhood, being a wife, an employee, at this Warrior II?” The stillness in between the thoughts is where it becomes my yoga to tune into the inner sage that says “you are worthy, you are enough, and on a cellular level, you are divine.”
Seeing the world for what it is—energy: Down to the atom, we are all just balls of energy. We’ve been given this physical form—to do the yoga poses, in the skin we’re—but choosing to recognize what we bring to our practice and who we are at our core is up to us. We have the power to choose our thoughts, which inform our energy, which manifests into our experience of the world.
Yoga has given me the clarity to realize that I can co-create my life with the universe—the Source of Spirit. In any way that I want to. It is our birthright to be whole, at peace, and in an abundant life of love.