Its currently “pre breakfast” hours at my home. My kids are still sleeping (a rarity that is not to be overlooked) and I have the window next to the table slightly open, sipping my coffee while being treated with the super sweet pre sunrise skies.
I got up earlier today for a couple reasons –
1) After a busy winter, one of my “non negotiables” (Thank you for this phrase Candace McKim!) of waking earlier than my children to care for my Self, has taken a back seat. I know this is not a sustainable way for me to stay connected with my practice and goals so today was the day I would get up & get moving.
2) I’ve been reflecting a lot on what Yoga has given me. As I pass another anniversary of becoming a Yoga Teacher (8 YEARS! Where did the time go?!) I found myself looking back on all that has happened, and not just since teaching, but since I found this practice.
I was introduced to Yoga at 19, I’ve spent 1/3 of my life on the mat. The beginning of this journey was filled with a lot of discomfort. A lot of moments realizing that the way I had been living my life (and truthfully still did for a couple years after finding yoga) was not going to be sustainable for me. In my late teens and early 20’s I was a Party girl. I regularly abused drugs and alcohol and even though there had been many low moments that should have encouraged me to clean it up and treat my body (and mind, and heart..) better, I hadn’t found the missing piece of connection that made me take that step.
A lot of my past students and friends know that this is where Yoga brought me so much more than flexibility. So much more than the ability to balance on my arms, or move into a deep backbend. My Teacher Training in Costa Rica (Circa 2009, Marianne Wells Yoga School <3 ) was the first time I had been sober in my adult life. Here I was in the most beautiful place my Eyes had ever seen, seeing my self for who I could be if I stayed connected and committed to the teachings we were exploring day in and out.
While my road to a more sustainable life and practice was not perfectly linear (what ever is in life?) I can say with absolute certainty that yoga made the highs and lows easier to manage. That this practice – and being a teacher – brought discipline and service into my life in a way that nothing before it ever had. This is what we hope to bring and share at Seva. This Practice is a service to YOU and everyone in your life. So, I’ve come up with my Top 5 gifts that Yoga brought me – if you’re looking for something that will accept you for who you are, and bring out the potential you carry, you just might find that Yoga has a lot of gifts to bring you too <3
- Acceptance – This isn’t the group acceptance that you find when spending time with like minded individuals, or your best friends. This is SELF acceptance. This is where you have the opportunity to hold a mirror up to who you are and see all you carry within. Yes, sometimes the mirror shows us the stuff we need to work on, the stuff that’s holding us back from our infinite potential, but even when it does – we don’t have to be afraid of this. Through the practice, we get to the point where we see who we are, and say “I accept You”
2. The ability to be wrong – This might sound like a strange gift, but to me this has been crucial in my life. Prior to Yoga, I was right. Always. I didn’t care too much what others thought, if I disagreed well that was that. Sounds lovely right? (yikes!) The Yamas were a revelation to me. Satya – Truth Is the second Yama and when I began studying and seeing how I could apply truthfulness to my life it felt like a cannonball to the chest. Being truthful with how I treated others, how I treated myself, allowed me to see that being wrong was not an unbearable weakness – but a strength. 10 years later I can’t say that I LOVE it when I am wrong, but thanks to yoga I’m pretty quick to bounce back with grace 😉
3. Deep Rest – Insomnia was how I was initially introduced to yoga. Sleep had always been an issue for me. Through the physicality of the postures, and the focus of pranayama (breath work), I was able to use my body in a way that connected me with the ability to rest. Savasana is not a nap – although it can turn into one in the right circumstances – it is a restoration of awareness. It is a brief period of your practice where nothing is required of you other than to simply BE HERE NOW. We live very busy lives in today’s modern world. How often do you take 10 minutes out of your day to rest? Sometimes without Savasana or meditation I wouldn’t earmark any time out of the day for it. How can we when we run to and from every commitment from sun up until bed time? Finding periods of Rest in your life is a game changer!
4. Physical Connection – There is a reason that Asana often comes first when new practitioners are getting started. I don’t believe its because its the most important, but rather its the place to start. Our physical bodies are something tangible. We can touch, see, and feel the changes that come our way when we’re practicing regularly. We start to notice that our back doesn’t ache as much, an old injury isn’t bothering us, or that we are getting stronger. Many of us are introduced to yoga because of a physical limitation. In my practice the postures gave me a starting point for loving my body. For learning that I really didn’t want to stay hungover every weekend, I’d rather feel good and get to the mat. Every week that I could feel myself getting stronger, and feeling better I moved a little bit deeper into my studies of what this practice could do. While I experienced love at first practice, not everyone does – so if Yoga feels uncomfortable or too challenging for your current conditions, I can’t suggest it enough – try a different style or teacher! There is a way to connect with your body in a way that feels right for YOU!
5. Resilience – Yoga does not promise us that everything will be “Peace and Light” or “Rainbows & Sparkles”. Anyone who sells it this way is missing out on one of the biggest gifts Yoga has to offer. If Yoga means Union, “to yoke, or bring together” it means union of ALL things. The Dark with the Light. Sometimes in our lives we come right up against the hardest conditions. We meet face to face with grief, doubt, fear, insecurities and pain. Sometimes from our own doing, sometimes not. Sometimes it’s unavoidable – LIFE HAPPENS. Through Yoga we are taught and practice that while this moment of pain and discomfort is real, and suffering is present, it does not last forever. You will have the opportunity to feel well again. It may not be this week, this month, or even this year but if you stay committed to daily practices that nourish you – ALL of you – physically, mentally, energetically, emotionally – you will have the opportunity to get back up again. I have witnessed this, in my family, in my friends, and fellow students and teachers, over and over again.
These were my Top 5 Gifts – If you have a moment today I invite you to think of yours. If Yoga is still new for you, or something you’re only hoping to start exploring, think of the gifts you would like to invite in to your life. What can you do today to start making them reality?