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As many things of Divine origin in my life, I feel like yoga was given to me: as a gift, a path to a more spacious state of being, an Earthly Spiritual home. I have tremendous gratitude for the practice and it holds a very weighty and sacred place in my heart. It came to me when I wasn’t quite ready for it (like most things of substance in my life!), and has now become anchor; my Root of Knowing when I am riding the waves of change or the unknown. Funny how things shift like that in life when we open up, huh?
I will never forget the beautiful thread of events that guided me to my first class in a yoga studio. I find these stories are important to share, as many out there trying to make their way into the beginnings of a sacred practice hold the belief that the yogis they see in class or on the internet were just born into this world meditating and an “OM”ing --- not so!! Since college, physical movement has been a way to release overwhelming emotions and coping with the swirl of worldly events that sometimes feel like metal and I, the magnet! So, when I began my graduate program, I found a gym near by, and continued with my regular routine of pounding it out on one cardio machine or another. One day though, I noticed a class happening behind the elliptical I was using. Everyone coming out seemed so light and happy! It caught my attention a couple of times, and I finally committed to checking the class out. I didn’t know it at the time, but the teacher I had the pleasure of taking the class from just happened (coincidence??) to be subbing for the regular teacher. I immediately connected with the heart-centered spirit of her teaching; her alignment cues (while admittedly overwhelming as I was SO out of touch with feeling into my body) were beautifully intricate. We ended class lying still for (what felt like) FOREVER (aka Savasana) and a collective “OM”. I wasn’t sure what I had just experienced, but I definitely felt different, in a good way, like I was fulfilling a yearning deep within my being; like I was closer to who I really was. I continued to take her class a few more times, and finally, one day after class, she suggested I check out a yoga studio downtown that taught the style of yoga that she taught and had completely grabbed my heart: Anusara yoga.
I was scared, I wasn’t familiar with the town yet, and I definitely didn’t (and still don’t!) like driving in downtown areas. But something bigger than those and a mountain of other reasons not too, pulled me to a noon Vinyasa class. I was told this was a more physical practice, and since I’d never been taught how to be still, it felt like it would be less of a shock to the system. This was the TRUE beginning of my love affair with the practice. I loved the physical challenge of the asana, and learning how to sync my body with my breath (who knew we could manipulate our breath, or what a difference it makes!?). I loved learning about Yogic culture and the rich philosophy. I loved learning the beautiful and Universal yogic language, Sanskrit. I loved the deeply heartfelt and intuitive themes that were weaved throughout the class. I loved the sweetness of my Teacher’s voice singing along with the beautiful music of the harmonium, so much so that it made Savasana possible and even ENJOYABLE! Most of all, I loved the heart and Soul of my Teacher, Jennie (and I still do!). (Check her out here! ) I learned what “Teacher” in the true sense meant to me: to be so grounded and clear yourself, that you can hold the space safely and lovingly for others, while gracefully challenging their boundaries, and expanding their awareness of what IS, mind/body/spirit. Thinking about how grateful I am for this experience STILL brings tears to my eyes and fills my heart. I didn’t directly acknowledge it (but somewhere deep within I KNEW) that it would change the course of my life. And it did! Yoga began the journey back to my Self. Yoga gave me the courage to walk away from the prestige and external validation of continuing on an academic pursuit misaligned with my heart. It gave me the compassion to understand the brokenness of a long-term relationship, and that walking away served the Highest Good for us both. It connected me back to that “still small voice” of Truth that lives within each of us.
For the sake of your eyes and attention span, I’ll (try to!) keep this part short: I moved following completion of my graduate degree, found an Anusara studio in my new location, became a student for a year, and completed my Teacher Training the following. I began teaching for that studio once my training was “complete”; I say “complete” because studentship never really ends. I have been teaching for them ever since. Again, I cannot express in words how grateful I have been for this beautiful and still unfolding journey of Yoga. As I reflect on this I can see how as my practice deepened, it became less strictly about physical asana on the mat, and more about a state of being, less solely internal, and more about sharing this gift with others… I believe that the practice continually expands us; it opens us up to receive our next Spiritual/Universal assignment, should we willingly choose to participate. The challenging part is that the Universe is pretty dang big and broad, and so to align ourselves with change on this level often requires what feel like BIG changes in the events of our daily lives. At least, that has been my experience.
It has opened me up to the grace and surrender of leaving my first full-time job in the Corporate world, to seek out a relationship that I otherwise wouldn’t have, and ultimately to believe that the Universe, that God, will continue provide, and though I may not understand it while it’s happening, it ALWAYS, I repeat, ALWAYS serves the Highest Good. And know this: if you maintain your connection to your Yoga: your home base, your connection with your deepest Truth and Self, it WILL continue to push your boundaries. Just when you get into a groove, and the ego has enough time to think it has it all figured out, a shift is on the horizon; you are ready for your next assignment! You may do things you thought you’d never do, and become someone you wouldn’t have recognized just a few years prior. It is a BIG practice in letting go of preconceived notions, placing high value on others’ opinions, and ultimately, control. And the ego will fight you ALL. THE. WAY.!
For me, recently, this has meant making the strong decision to shift my business in alignment with my intuitive, Spiritual nature, and to walk away from a regular teaching position with the Anusara studio I’ve been with for a couple of years. What makes it hard, especially with the latter, is that I have nothing but love and gratitude for the owners, fellow teachers, and beautiful community of students. But the Universe is calling me in a different direction, and I’ve been blessed with enough miracles from listening to that call, to know that I WANT to know what is on the other side of it. I am once again at the beginning of the path of the student (where I LOVE to be!) and will step back into the sacred role of Teacher when Spirit says I am ready. The mind will likely never understand this, so don’t try to “figure out” how I’m making it work or how you could/couldn’t make it work. As said in Autobiography of a Yogi: “God is simple. Everything else is complex. Do not seek absolute values in the relative world of nature.” See through the eyes of your heart, and I believe you’ll get it.
I didn’t make this decision all on my own, or even solely with Universal Guidance, that is just where my continual work of placing my trust resides. I reached out to teachers/mentors that I respect and rather than asking what they would have me do, I asked how they had navigated change, uncertainty, and Spiritual callings. One of the bigger Aha’s for me was a newer teacher to me, who has walked parts of the path I am treading. The essence of his message was this, “After a while, I just created my own Yoga. I encourage all of my students and you to do the same. It is especially important that you listen to your heart and what brings you the deepest joy; make sure you follow that.” This was TOTALLY a “when the student is ready, the Teacher will appear” moment for me, because my Ego would have me believe that all of my passions/desires need to fit neatly (or forcefully) into a box labeled “X” and label that as a “job” because that’s how the world works as an adult. And my True heart calling is a blend, a beautiful fusion of a few different Yogic paths and aspects of the practice. Think about how much more awesome this world is because of blends/mixtures: green smoothies, fro-yo, herbal tea infusions, tie-dye, COLOR!, MUSIC! Our world is primarily made up of blends and mixtures. And when I give myself this natural allowance as well, I am fully participating in the collective dance called the Flow of the Universe, rather than getting jerked in and out of its powerful waves trying to forge “MY” straight and narrow path.
I hope the heart of this message resonates deeply with your Spirit. If you feel pulled to take action, here are a few suggestions (but please follow YOUR higher guidance):
May this message serve Your and the Collective Highest Good***