Whether you practice yoga or not I know you’ve seen some impressive pictures of people doing what could be called “yoga-acrobatics”…I know they can be inspiring for a while but I feel most people find them intimidating and perhaps a complete turn-off. But yoga is not a performance. Yoga is not a pose that you share on Instagram. Yoga isn’t even the practice of postures. Yoga is a lifestyle and an multi-layered discipline, a much richer tradition than what we have been seeing on facebook and Youtube. When I started practicing yoga about 7 years ago, this phenomenon didn’t t exist. I did not do it for physical health either… I wasn’t in bad shape (externally), but I heard this could really help me with my stress. I went to my first class for the other set of common reasons: I was a stressed mess, I felt overworked, I was constantly anxious and suffered from insomnia, I behaved like a controlling person and I even had quite the “shopaholic” impulse. So after talking about it with coworker, she convinced me to do it. We left one day after work for this class lead by a teacher someone recommended…I stepped into the studio having no no idea what to expect, I’ve not seen a picture or a video of yoga before…After that class there was not looking back…I fell in love with Yoga.
Years later, when I left my competitive-black suit -pointy high heel-I’m only as good as my last month numbers- corporate job, I decided that I was going to go to yoga teacher training. I did not want to become a teacher…I just wanted to deepen my practice. So I looked for an immersion program, and I was blessed to find one where we lived in the center. For a whole month, 5 days a week we rose before the sun came up and spent our days until dinner time submerged in the world of yoga. My teacher was a 65 year old “Pro” who has been practicing since before I was born (and before there were yoga mats!). Her wisdom opened the door to what yoga really is, and the many layers beyond the relaxation I looked for or the exercise others seek in it. As a “coincidence”, or as I like to think A Miracle, I also was going through a major break-up. Let me tell, you if you heart is broken, go and find a yoga class and practice everyday…I have never had a healthier recovery from heartache. Leaving that training changed my life, and this changed my initial refusal to teach, I had to share all the healing I’d received. So here I am, 4 years later teaching yoga, and doing some type of yogic practice everyday.
I started teaching here and there, but my serious focus was my practice, both on the mat and the less physical aspects like meditation and self-study. When I say my life changed I mean it. I stopped being so fearful of change, which opened all kinds of opportunities. I learned to stop competing with others and with myself and RELAXED for the first time ever TRUSTING the processes of life. I became a better daughter, sister, friend and I’ll like to think a better girlfriend. I discovered a creative side I did not think I had, which gave birth to my health coaching programs. I aged backwards, looking younger and younger! and all those stress issues started to fade. This didn’t happen overnight, but it happened and it still happens with Practice. This is a practice for a performance that is never going to have “followers” or a “showtime”- so there is no deadline, no need to hurry or to force anything- This is the performance of your life. The discovering of your potential, not to get on a fancy posture, but to Be in ANY posture and be OK with however it looks knowing you are safe, not hurting yourself nor “posing for others”. What a relief it has been to stop pretending I had it under control!
If you have been practicing yoga, I hope you have your own story. But if your story has not touched your life beyond the physical and the temporary relaxation, I invite you to practice more often and find a good teacher. To me this is someone compassionate, devoted to their own self practice that exposes you to the breathing and meditative aspects of yoga. Don’t let the beautiful poses be your only goal. By all means grow and explore, but remember that is just a spec of the practice. And if you are new to yoga, congratulations! Get ready to write your own story. I promise you it will be a beautiful one. I can never say it better than my Teacher Max Strom, with whom I dreamed to work with before I even knew I’d teach yoga. Learning from him is now another miracle in my life, and in the life of my students as my classes are infused by his wisdom and discipline. He writes in his book A Life Worth Breathing “There’s a wonderful metaphor from the yoga tradition that vividly depicts the plight of the average person and points the way to a more meaningful life. It’s the carriage allegory. The carriage represents the body, the horses pulling the carriage represent the emotions, the driver is the mind, and the passenger is the soul. The story goes that the state of the average person is as follows; the carriage is in terrible disrepair, the horses are half-wild, the driver is unfocused and drunk, and the passenger is asleep. The passenger, a king or queen, is asleep, dreaming he/she is a prisoner. Yoga, it is said, repairs the carriage (body), tames the horses (emotions), sobers and focuses the driver (mind), and ultimately – reawakens the passenger (soul). The soul then remembers his or her true purpose and instructs the driver on which route to take to their ultimate destination. This is the purpose of yoga, anything less is simply exercise”
Practice, practice often and with hope. May the practice bring you to the repaired state my teacher wrote about. May you come to it humbly, untouched by the yoga “superstars” and media noise. May it bring you all the joy it has brought me, all the healing it has bestow upon me and the wisdom I received from my teachers past and present. May yoga unite you so you can feel Whole at last for The Performance of you Life.