Image: @stubisdonYoga is a path that radically transforms my life. I teach yoga, practice postures, breathing, and meditation because these experiences help me be more peaceful, calm and present in all aspects of my life. For me, practicing yoga has been essential for living.
Yoga has a way of reshaping us from the center of our beings. We often come to yoga after years of living through highs and our lows. As the Buddha once said, “life is suffering”. And I believe that we bring all of our suffering to yoga.
Suffering lives in our bodies, oftentimes buried deep within. We come to yoga with all of our habits and holding patterns that run deep within ourselves. Our physical bodies are literally shaped by all of our life experiences. And our other bodies- energy body, emotional body, personality body, intellectual body, and bliss body- are also impacted by everything that has happened in our lives.
Yoga gives energy for a more abundant life
When I arrived at my first yoga class, I was young, but still had layers and layers and layers of protection built up in my body. My physical body was stiff and achy. I had wacky hormones. My energy body was low, lacking essential vitality to get me through my days. Extreme emotions made me feel as if I wasn’t in control. Negative thoughts overwhelmed me.
Throughout all this, I was not aware that I had an inner witness who could sit inside me and observe these layers of my being with non-judgement and self-awareness. I arrived to yoga during a time of my life when I could not function in daily life. I didn’t have enough energy, nor could I cope with the everyday challenge of being human. It was all too exhausting.
Fourteen years later, I am still surprised by my own vitality and abundance of energy. I am so grateful, because there was a time where my body felt like it was full of lead and I wondered if something was deeply wrong with me. There was a time, not all that long ago, when I would imagine all that I could do if I just had enough energy to do it. I still felt disconnected and alone, even when I was with friends and family.
Yoga and the power of transformation
Today, I am doing what I once only imagined was possible. I feel profoundly connected. It’s as though I’ve been plugged back into a source of energy and vitality that is essential for living. Yoga has been a vital part of this transformation.
Yoga asana and breathing practices have a profound capacity to open the stuck spots. Stuck energy begins to move again and awaken parts of the body that were previously sleeping. There is a plethora of science now that shows the benefits of practicing yoga and meditation.
Being a scientist of my own body, I have witnessed a transformation that still stops me in my tracks. I am the same, yet completely renewed, revitalized, restored, and rejuvenated. Yoga brought me back to my true nature by helping me release holding patterns in my body, energy, and mind.
My soul now shines through with a little more light.
I am not sure if it is the simple practice of taking time to be in my body, breath, and inner witness every day, or if it is the postures themselves that work for me.
I think it’s a combination of all this:
A yoga philosophy that supports my mind with an incredible structure of understanding
Postures that release energy and build strength from the inside out
Pranayama that brings oxygen to the entire body
Yoga demands concentration that focuses the mind
Deep meditation that invites in peace and calm
The bliss of being connected
It’s a journey
I know there are many paths to walk and many mind-body practices that make up what we refer to as yoga these days. I am so grateful for all of the incredibly creative people who have passed on their wisdom, allowing each of us today to find our own paths (and carve out new paths) that serve us and teach us what we need to learn in whatever stage of life we are experiencing.
The journey of ‘waking up’ to ourselves is not always comfortable.
Some days, seeing the truth of ourselves, the light and the shadows, is painful. I dabbled in my practices for years before I developed enough courage to begin to step onto my mat each day.
Sometimes I wanted to be in a different body when I stepped onto my mat- one that was already strong and flexible. There were days when I was hyper-aware of parts of myself that made me so uncomfortable. I would even put away my mat for months at a time. That has all been part of the journey, building up the inner strength and resiliency to step back on my mat and sit back down on my cushion time and time again.
You can always return to the path
I am so grateful that, again and again, I have made the choice to give myself another chance. Because this path I am on is one that helps me stay awake and continue to learn, rather than go numb and fall asleep. I know where that leads and the only way for me to travel is one foot in front of the other, in the here and now. There is a song that goes, “If it weren’t for second chances, than we would all be alone.”
I may add “third chances, fourth chances… and a whole lot of courage too.” Losing the loneliness isn’t about gaining more friends. It’s about reconnecting to our own source… plugging back in… time and time again.