Yoga is a conversation with body, mind, and spirit. Listen carefully and equally to the agreements, gaps in reasoning, silent pauses, and outright disagreements in this conversation. Let assumptions and questions ignite a passion to research and explore while remaining open to a new path that may unexpectedly appear.
Simultaneous separation & embodiment
Yoga has become my discipline of choice along this path of life. It has been an avenue of exploration and creative expression. Yoga is a practice of embodiment that has shown me how to be very present to the shifts of body, mind, and spirit.
Having two children has changed my body and life. In terms of life, one of the key shifts has been a change in engagement with community. Though a majority of yoga practitioners are women, yoga studios do not offer childcare. To be honest, babysitters make more watching my kids than I do teaching my classes. A majority of teacher training programs do not inform teachers how to address pregnant and postpartum bodies. As a result, I have developed a home practice and relatively small teaching schedule. I have felt very separated, at times, from our local yoga community where I once felt so immersed and connected.
What has happened, in this simultaneous separation from community and increased personal embodiment, is a peeling away of what does not serve. It has shown external attachments masked in spiritual-looking accoutrements. It has been a painful and relieving process of satya (truth and integrity). I have realized my devotion to the craft of teaching. I have become deeply inspired by developing a practice that, rooted in tradition, continues to branch and flower thanks to the fertile ground of modern science, intuition, experience, poetry, and all the amazing information we have access to in this modern era.
Yoga as a guide
Yoga is a key part of an overall wellness plan, a guide on the path to simply being well. An example from my experience: I have hip pain and have never had much external rotation. If I were to put myself in lotus pose on the regular, I would likely need a new left hip. This does not mean I have deep emotional problems (you know, because some guruji once said “Hips are where we hold emotions”) and it does not mean I need more pigeon pose or need to push my body to what someone has diagrammed as what a pose should look like. No, it means that my path to wellness includes physical therapy, strength training, and help from body rolling. It means sitting on a cushions in sukhasana instead of lotus. Following this path to wellness gives me the opportunity to pick up experience, insights, and knowledge from other branches of physical engagement and weave them into the classes I craft. (Yoga with Balls, Balls Out Yoga….I’m sure I’m onto something that could be really trendy here.)
Permission to be free
I share my personal experience here to give you permission to be curious and explore. Be free to find freedom. Do not be tethered by the dogma of a teacher or tradition. Do not feel limited by the number of “followers” you have on social media or how many people you know at the studio. If you feel limited by ability, community, or opportunity, know that each and every one of us has a little patch of creative space. Maybe it is five minutes, maybe it is five hours. Maybe it is in a studio, maybe it is in your imagination for now. Just know that you do have creative space and in your space, “you have a right to your own particular variety of fulfillment and joy.”
P.S. Are you following the conversation on the Yogaland podcast? There is an incredibly honest, informed conversation going on about how yoga can evolve from an ancient practice to a modern practice. I am deeply grateful for Andrea Ferretti’s work - we need these conversations in the yoga community. If you’re not listening, get on over to iTunes and jump in the conversation.