In the western world, when we think about yoga, for most of us, I would say that the first thing that comes to mind is the asana practice. Asana literally means “seat,” but what we know of asana is the postures that allow us to remain seated for extended periods of time. The physical practice of yoga is merely a tool to get us to the point of being able to sit in silence and connect in with our Source without feeling all of those aches and pains that have a tendency to come up when we actually take the time to sit still. Yoga is the whole kit and caboodle. The whole shabang. It’s everything that gets you to that place of connection. The postures, the meditation, the mantras, the mudras, the breathwork, all of it.
My yoga practice started over 10 years ago when I was starting to realize that I was in a dysfunctional marriage and working a job that did not feel authentic to me. About the same time, I went horseback riding at a friend’s house and managed to fall off the horse I was on when he got a little too excited heading back to the barn. I managed to tear the cartilage in my SI joint, an injury that has no quick fix other than time. I was in the middle of training for a century ride when this happened, and the only time it didn’t hurt was when I was on my bike. This happened about 3 weeks before I was scheduled to leave for Tucson with my Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team in Training group, and I wasn’t about to stop at this point. Especially considering that it didn’t hurt when I was on the bike. I kept training through the pain and probably made it worse in the long run. I was looking for something - anything - that would help me feel better.
After completing that century ride, I signed on to mentor the 3 State 3 Mountain group and as part of the fundraising for that one, we did an ice cream social and a friend of one of my teammates came in and said she was opening a yoga studio in East Nashville where I just happened to be moving the next spring. It took me a while to step foot in the yoga studio, because as someone prone to having gas, I was also one of those people who was terrified to set foot in a yoga class. I actually even emailed the owner to ask what to do if I farted in class. It’s so funny to think about that now as someone who has experienced farts in class as a student and a teacher. Class goes on, and believe me, by the end of svasana, no one remembers that event. Needless to say, if that’s something that’s kept you out of a yoga class, it’s time to take the risk! It’s worth it!
My practice started as a physical practice. I needed something for a stress relief and to help me not be in so much pain when I walked. I had no concept of there being anything else to yoga at the time. It became so much more than that for me, though. It helped me realize that being self-centered was not the bad thing that people made it out to be, but was actually an honorable goal. I’ve learned that the more centered I am, the more I’m able to love other people from a place of deep authenticity. The more I take care of myself, the more I have to give to others, and who doesn’t want to be able to give more??
So, yes, practice the postures, the mantras, and the mudras. Do whatever it takes for you to feel connected, because that’s ultimately what we’re all seeking, is a deeper connection to Source. If you already have that, know that you’re not alone in it, but also know that there are so many people who are still striving for that connection. When you feel full enough to give, Give in whatever way feels authentic to you. Give from the heart so that it fills you up, too, as you share your gifts. Love yourself so that you can shine that love on everyone you meet. Be the light!
Thank you for joining me on this adventure, and I’m so grateful that I can share these tools with you that I’ve learned. I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me in my lifetime!
I bless you with the peace and ease you need in this holiday season.