A little over 2 years ago I took my first Yoga class. My cousin Heidi invited me on whim, because she had heard from a friend that it was free that night. I was skeptical, but I decided to go based on that fact that it would be a slightly physical, mostly social event (and because I love Heidi).
I had spent most of my years running and hiking, searching for a phsyical high. Having just finished my first (and last) marathon, in my mind, pain and long lasting endurance were what made your mark.
"Yoga people" made me laugh. In the first place, I couldn't touch my toes. But mostly the thought of bending and stretching into poses for over an hour was a ridiculous idea, and eccentric, incense burning yogi's, were not my kind of people.
I spent that first evening on my mat, shaking in downward dog, pleading with the clock to speed up, praising child's pose, and laughing at my inability to hold ANYTHING. I was amazed at the grace in the postures, and (quite obviously) amazed at how much strength they required. It was one of the most challenging workouts I had ever done, and yet left feeling like I had just done something really nice to myself. After that night, I just kept on going.
2 years later aka: last month I decided I would enroll in The Yoga Underground's Teacher training course...and my world got ROCKED.
It's a 5 week, 6 hour a day course, and with my little babe at home, a pretty big commitment to make. I of course had plans to become a yoga teacher, but if I didn't have a knack for it I thought worst case scenario: I improve my practice, whip my body into shape (just in time for swimsuit season), oh and get a great tan. While some of the above did happen, what I ended up leaving with was so, so much more.
Whether you do yoga strictly for the physical benefit or not, the internal benefits start to creep their way in. during our 5 week course we were required to practice twice a day- which was a lot, compared to my usual 4 day a week regime. As my physical body began to deteriorate and rebuild, so did the rest of me. I felt the parts of me that are more rigid and structured break down, compassion came easier, defense mechanisms slowed.
After becoming aware of the inner changes that were taking place, I began my quest of condensing down and making logical sense out of how and why 1,000 year old postures were transforming me. In class, we learned a lot of things...Chakras, energy, anatomy, and indian philosophy. We learned about how to be authentic as teachers, the balance of health, the importance of ethics and the importance of honoring everyone's journey.
I learned that the first step in breaking down the EGO is becoming vulnerable. Yoga, by nature is progressive. There is never this epic moment of arrival. When this truth began to sink in, it was met with instant humility. Some of the most genuine moments I experienced with my group, were in instances like these where I let my guard down. And it's like everyone can tell. They feel the real you come out, and it's unmistakable.
But even after all of that, I still didn't feel like I had come to a concrete conclusion as to why Yoga had the power to sculpt a person from the inside. Eventually I stopped worrying about why, and how, and began to view yoga as a celebration of life on the mat. I began to recognize that what was happening on my mat closely mirrored what was happening in my daily life. The way I handled challenges in life were similar to the way I handled difficult postures in my practice. If I was anxious one day, or stressed, it would show up on my mat. And I wondered if I could reverse the effect...If I could begin to transform what was happening in my practice, maybe the transformations would show up in my day to day life.
Then one day I came across this:
"There is one thing that, when cultivated and regularly practiced, leads to deep spiritual intention, to peace, to mindfulness, and clear comprehension, to vision and knowledge, to a happy life here and now, and to the culmination of wisdom and awakening.
And what is that one thing? It is mindfulness centered on the body." -Buddha-
There it was. The body. The body is the home of the soul, and the mind. Everything that is us, is written on, or in this vessel that we have been given. We use it for essentially everything we do. We use it to love, to serve, to think, to feel. When we are mindful of our body, we are present. We are experiencing everything that is happening to us at that moment, opening to floodgates to inspiration, intuition, and authenticity. To me this is yoga, the synching of the body, mind, and spirit.
As I began to be more aware, I felt my practice change. Poses that I had always disliked became easier to me, and some, I even looked forward to. I also felt the results of my consciousness transcend into my life at home. Obviously not everything has changed, I still have a long way to go, and will always have things to work on, but the connection between the physical and the subconscious is real. And whether you get there through yoga, or some other path the pay off is there.
I feel happier, lighter, hopeful and at peace.
|My Yoga Group: Eric, Jill, Angie, Brittany (instructor), Me, Carson (don't mind the spoon- long story)|
There is something about the Ebb and flow of Yoga that reels you back in. Something in the poses that hits an intrinsic chord. For a long time I didn't know what that was, I just kept showing up to my mat, week after week. And maybe that's all we have to do. Maybe in life we just keep showing up, we try to lead good lives, we try to be good people. Whether we choose to question or not, we might end up at the same destination if we can somehow find a way to let our authentic selves lead the way.