Do you see that shadow? Or is it a reflection? That reflection, the journey inward, to see my true self is really what brings me to my mat. Yoga is a practice. It’s not meant to be perfected. It’s not meant to begin or end. It’s meant to be with us, to be a mirror, to show us what’s really going on and heighten our awareness both internally and externally.
Each time I step on my mat isn’t pretty. It isn’t always fluid. It doesn’t always feel good.
Sometimes I don’t like what I see, feel, and discover. But it’s real. It’s raw. It’s transformative.
I’m not talking about the superficial practice of yoga poses without any mind body connection or attention to what you are doing. I love working out but that’s all yoga postures are when done without the true heart mind connection.
My invitation or should I say challenge to you is to take the leap … to allow the practice to really be transformative. That means come in and take advantage of all of those opportunities to look inward and really understand the workings of your mind. As you learn to quiet the mind, you can connect with truth that’s in your heart. That’s the real transformation.
I hope to see you on the mat looking at your own reflection.
I’m just now realizing the irony of this being written days away from Halloween! Nevertheless, I’ve had this topic on my mind and in my heart for awhile. Up until now, I haven’t been able to figure out how to approach it. Nor have I had the time to even brush my teeth until 2 in the afternoon so… that’s scary. But in light of all the things life has been chucking in my face recently, I thought I’d write out what I’ve been feeling before my heart explodes.
Abhinivesha (fear or fear of death) is one of the 5 Kleshas in yoga philosophy. You can read all about them in the Yoga Sutras book by Patanjali. The Kleshas are obstacles in our spiritual paths hindering us from experiencing Yoga, and union with the Infinite or what I like to call God. Of course, if it’s not your personal goal to achieve union with the Infinite, I guess you needn’t read further.
There is another book called The Bible and it tells us not to fear 365 times; that’s a daily reminder for us to not be afraid. While I find that rather incredible and also take great comfort in it, I still experience fear in some form on a daily basis. I mean, we have to be afraid sometimes right? It’s what keeps us safe, even alive in some respects. Fear comes from our ego which, again, is there to protect us. But here’s where it gets real.
When I think about the decisions I’ve made based on fear, regret almost always follows. I wish I would’ve done that. Or damn, I shouldn’t have done that. We learn from practicing and living yoga that we should be living by our spirit, not our ego. I say in my class all the time, find that connection you have with your true inner self. We are love inside and out. Our spirit says, “take the chance” and “make your decisions with love in the forefront.” I have to remind myself to do those things DAILY. Discipline my children with love instead of fear that if I don’t, they’ll become apart of the ever growing asshole of society. Love, trust, and initiate affection when it comes to my husband even though I have scars on my heart from the first man in my life. Wah wah wah.
I watch the people I care most about miss out on what I think could be great opportunities for them because they’re afraid. Afraid to put themselves out there and love again. Afraid to live their lives true, open, and honest for fear of judgement. Afraid to slow down and actually take a moment to listen and feel what’s going on inside themselves.
So here’s the kicker, fear will always be there because ego will always be there. I think the key is to recognize fear by stepping back and taking a third person point of view and figuring out why it’s there. I’d like to live my life with an open and fearless heart on and off the mat (heart opening poses are my favorite). This wise gal says it best, “Openness doesn’t come from resisting fears but getting to know them well.” -Pema Chördön.
Well that’s what’s going on in my life currently. Maybe you can relate. Maybe not. Maybe you can start to see where fear shows up in your life or even just on your mat. I’m encouraging myself and those of you who took the time to read this to choose love over fear every time.
We just started a new year and with that many of us think about our lives and changes we would like to make. We take steps to be healthier or more of who we want to be, etc, etc, but really our own true Self is already within us. The practice of yoga helps us to balance the juggles of life and see who we truly are. What does that all mean though? The practice of yoga is a tool. It’s a practice that challenges us, we rise up, we fall down, we face our fears, we face our struggles, we have moments of pride, ego, joy, and success. Our mat and our cushion is a safe place to experiment. It’s a safe place to heal. It’s a safe place to start to peel away all of the layers our mind creates so we can see clearly who we are at our deepest innermost level.
Life is a balance of holding on and letting go. It’s a balance of pushing forward and standing still. We fall down and we get up. We quiver and shake. We laugh and we dance for joy. And all along the way, our breath and our body is our home. It travels with us and it houses us. The practice of yoga helps us to nurture and heal our bodies and our minds to enjoy the balance of this life. Although, life itself can be an obstacle to getting to our mat. We are all busy and have a lot of things to balance so making time for ourself is a challenge. The time for yourself is invaluable though. Even if it’s 5 minutes a day on your cushion breathing or meditating, maybe it’s one class a week, maybe it’s more, that time for yourself and your practice will help bring clarity and stability to take into the rest of your juggled life. We hold on to our practice so we learn how to let go and be our practice. We learn to let go of life and be with our life.
Happy New Year! Enjoy this thing called life! Enjoy the breath and the body that is your home. We hope to see you soon!
If you follow us on social media, you may have seen the picture and quote above already, but it could be new to you. Either way, you may not know that the majority of the quotes and pics we post are pictures we have taken somewhere and we use quotes that inspire us to be the best people and teachers we can be. We hope these inspire you too.
We all have obstacles along our path. We all have difficulties and struggles, but when it comes right down to it, those are our path. I can’t help but sit back and ask myself if I am my own obstacle at times. I know I am though. I can be my own worst enemy or my own cheerleader. I’ve been meaning to start writing these blog posts for a while now, but every time I went to start or hit send, I wouldn’t. I’m not a natural writer. I’m a counter. Inside I have a passion though. I want to help my students and our community to be the best people we can be. To love ourselves, to be our own supporters, to be our own peacemakers, to heal ourselves. I have a passion for yoga, fitness, and health. It’s a passion for healthy well being from the inside out. It’s not about how many chaturangas we can do or squats or anything in particular. It’s about getting out of our own way, listening to our own voice, getting in touch with our inner soul, and allowing our light to shine. It’s time to get out of own way and stop being our own obstacle. Meditate for 5 minutes a day if that’s all you have. Allow your True Self to shine through and speak to you. Accept the obstacles that pop up along your path and enjoy the steps. Let’s stretch beyond our resistance and our fear, and make a choice to live life to it’s fullest! I challenge you today to take a step forward. To move past a fear no matter how big or small. Maybe you haven’t trusted yourself to put your voice into print. Maybe you haven’t taken the step into your first yoga class but you’ve wanted to. Maybe you have wanted to run or bike but didn’t believe you were strong enough or fast enough. Maybe it’s time for a bigger change, career, love, etc. No matter how big or small, let’s take a step together. Let’s share our paths and share facing our obstacles together.