I do yoga because I am an inherently Type-A personality. I do yoga because most days the moment I’m awake, I start running through mental lists of things to get done that day and it’s like a treadmill that I can’t jump off of. I do yoga because for some reason, a not-very-nice part of my brain loves to judge and compare, to measure and size things up and somehow it means that nothing is ever good enough. I do yoga because I can now touch my toes, open my hips nearly to the floor, do a tripod headstand. The physical benefits, however, are trivial compared to the mental avenues it’s opened to me.
I do yoga because I find being still much, much harder than being tired or stressed to the point of exhaustion. I do yoga because I’m analytical but I want to learn how to see the world without compartmentalising it into black and white cubes. I do yoga because I want to learn to value presence over accomplishments. I do yoga because I want to learn how to be comfortable in my own mind, my own space, and learn what’s there for me. I do yoga to remind myself that we’re all in different stages of growth and that you can never completely know the circumstances surrounding someone else’s journey. I do yoga because I don’t think we can ever know everything that’s out there, but that some of the most powerful lessons are accessible to us if we just listen.
Yoga has taught me to be gentle with myself, to stop rehashing my failures and mistakes. Yoga has taught me to be vulnerable, to try new things and learn not to fear the consequences of falling. Yoga has shown me that I’m capable of anything, that my mind is more powerful than I can ever imagine, and that my thoughts can equally be weapons or allies to my dreams. I’m learning to begin with intention, and I love the practice of starting a class with a clear intent.
Intention for me is a goal, not a standard to hold myself to like some sort of meaningless rubric, but a clearly defined hope to help me move towards new ground. Yoga has taught me the importance of being honest with myself and to see things for what they are. I’ve learned to try to view things from a place of acceptance rather than reactivity, to change what I can and let the rest flow past.
Four years ago in a crowded studio in New Zealand, a man from Massachusetts instructed us to “let go of what doesn’t serve you,” and I’ve never forgotten it. Let go of what doesn’t serve you.
How powerful are the things we tell ourselves? Who enforces our own limits and boundaries but our own thoughts?
For me, yoga is about getting away from the constant mental chatter, the same tired scripts. Learning how to move and breathe through challenges without judging the pain, the discomfort. Yoga has taught me to laugh off the junk, just let it go. It’s taught me to play, to just lighten up already. Occasionally during a class I’ll be positively overwhelmed with joy, with a feeling of lightness that tickles me all the way down my spine and I feel so happy, so blessed to be in that moment.
I started this journey nearly 5 years ago with my mom, who bought us both a month-long subscription to a new hot yoga studio in Charlotte. I remember struggling through plank, frog and crow. I remember the wet heat hitting me, taking my breath away as I walked into the sauna (studio). I remember looking around at ladies in lycra, thinking “what the hell are we doing?” Since then I’ve maintained a practice through different lives in New Zealand, back to the US and now Australia. My practice hasn’t always been constant, but the lessons I’ve learned have been.