Life Changer

The Evolution of Going Deeper

When I started practicing Yoga 22 years ago, my experience of going deeper was relegated to the possibility of laying flat over my legs when in a forward fold or catching the bind in a seated twist.  I was in fast pursuit of how deeply I could go in an asana, and this gave me the feeling of completely losing myself in a posture.  I felt a bit invincible on my yoga mat.  I yearned for that moment where I was immersed deeply in the pose,  in my breath, in the movement, in the “union” of my body, my mind, and my spirit The moment where the world faded into the background and peace emerged.

The deeper my practice became, the more it felt like my practice was a solitary one.  It was difficult for me to express to my friends and family the profound connection to myself I felt when I was practicing yoga, and that made me feel very alone. I realized that when I left my mat, I was edgy.  

Time passed.  I got married, I had babies.  My body changed.  It rebelled.  I swam in a constant sea of injury and pain striving to get back to that place I had found in my youth.  I was struggling to re-unite. All I knew was to keep striving to push the edge of physicality. After all, I had only found that beautiful place of "union", through the vehicle of my body.  In the rare moments I was able to be present in my practice long enough to go deep, I found that the agitation and frustration that I felt at the completion of my practice was heightened. I even felt resentful to my family for not being able to line-up with my inner peace.  At some point, I knew there had to be more than this tug-of-war between the peace I found in my practice and the chaos of the world.  So, I found a teacher.  

n finding that teacher, my mind was blown.  The Yoga I had known and practiced for so many years of my life began to morph and evolve into something wholly different than anything I had ever experienced before.  I started prioritizing my meditative practices as highly as my physical ones, I immersed myself in study and contemplation.  I was amazed at how much more there was to the practice than I had ever realized.  My new pursuit looked a lot less like a badass arm balance, and a lot more like hours of silent exploration.  Gradually my practice became less daunting (regardless of the external evidence), and I gained more confidence in my individuated approach to practice.  I even started changing the way I was teaching. My experience of yoga became more allowing, more curious.  Yet, I was still uncomfortable in my daily life.  In practice, I could find my peace, but in the world I felt like a whirlwind of thoughts and frustration.  I kept turning to my mat and my cushion for respite, but still found it difficult to integrate what I was discovering about myself and my practice in my fast-paced life of work and family.

I asked myself what is required of me now to move deeper and I realized that the answer was to take this graceful and curious heart of mine off my mat and my cushion and out into the world. This is the next level of my practice.  

Of course I will always re-charge on my mat and my cushion, but the real practice of yoga is now what happens on the street, in the coffee shop, and the grocery store.  The real practice of yoga begins in that moment where I can roll over onto my side, use my hands and arms to lift this gift of a body up, blow out the candles, put on my shoes and walk out into the world. 

Are you ready to go deeper? To bridge the gap between your internal practice and the life you lead? If you are, join me.  

The Safety Net of Paradox

Ok, yogi friends.  This practice is no joke.  It's a game changer, a life shifter, an "I'll never be the same again-er."  A while back  I was sitting around with a bunch of Teacher Training graduates and a few other guest teachers at a mountain retreat, and we were talking about the power of this practice of Yoga.  Afterwards, one of the guest teachers pulled me aside and said, "your training should be called the quit your job and change your life Teacher Training."  Whoa.  I took pause.

Is that how I want to be known?  We live in a world where definitions rule.  When asked, "who are you?" most of us immediately answer with a long list of defining actions or achievements that really don't reflect the truth of who YOU are.  We lose ourselves in definition, and when we aren't able to define ourselves in the world we feel lost.  So some of us become seekers, defying definition and forging our own path.  We work hard to be unconventional, original, authentic to our heart's call.  And then somebody defines us.

It causes us to take pause.  When our work to expand beyond definitions and inspire others to do the same becomes the very definition of who we are.  What a paradox.  There is a teaching in one of the ancient texts of tradition that I study that says over and over in a hundred different ways that the world is this AND that.  Both extremes existing at once as ONE.  It implores us that if anything can truly be classified in an absolute and singular way that as spiritual aspirants, we must question it. 

The understanding of the paradox of reality is our pathway to freedom, a glimpse through the window to the vista of non-duality.  We become tangled in our definitions of things, and in trying to escape our mess, we define ourselves.  Yet when we realize we are at once the absence and the presence of these definitions, we are free. 

One of my teachers once gave the analogy of a spider, she spins the web to create her world, yet the web that she is spinning comes from inside of her, her own creation.  She is the container of the entire world, and the spinner of her own story in which she dances the dance of life.  So in owning our definitions as doorway to the infinite, we unwind the thread within.  

We will probably always be at the mercy of a definition; I'm a mom, a teacher, a wife, a daughter, a yogini, a student, a brunette, a talker, and maybe also a director of a "quit your job and change your life Teacher Training."  But now, these definitions of Self are the web in which I dance rather than the sticky, tangled trap that holds me down.  I am that, AND I am also the undefinable, undeniable greatness of being, and so are you.