I started Yoga more than ten years ago without knowing why I was getting into it. Even after taking my first Yoga class, I immediately started savoring the benefits of this practice. Soon I found myself on a path of self-discovery that has led me into what appears to be a lifetime of self-study.
Yoga has become for me a way to peel layers of misperception about/confusion in myself, revealing, beneath those layers, my true self. Yoga led me to uncover, and later accept, some parts of me that I had neglected or refused to accept for a long time.
As my practice deepened, I became interested in and curious about the body-mind connection. I realized my body and mind were completely disconnected, existing in my mind as two completely separate entities. Through yoga I began recognizing that I had been focusing my sense of self-worth simply on my physical body (the surface); my happiness depended solely on the way I felt about how I looked. I was totally caught up in my surface reality, which led me to have a distorted image of my body, eating mindlessly, making poor, non-nourishing food choices that left me feeling empty and starving for more sustenance. Similarly, I found myself repeatedly attracting superficial relationships that would, in turn, make me feel empty in my soul and would leave me starving for a deeper spiritual connection. Yoga has taught me that if I stay aware of my breath, I will feel more connected to my inner reality, both my feelings and sensations in my body; I will feel more present.
Gradually, my yoga practice started positively affecting the rest of my life. For instance, I would find myself, unwittingly, paying attention to my breath throughout the day. I would also try to stay aware of my thoughts and feelings at any given moment. I also began to turn within for guidance and, with much trepidation and little faith at first, I slowly discovered the trustworthiness of my own intuition. I progressively felt more at home in my body and I started to relate to it more as a place for my soul than just as the surface of my person. My body, to my surprise, felt as the house of my spirit; a concept I had never before grasped. I started to treat my whole being with more respect, something I had struggled with in the past.
Along with assisting me in befriending my body, yoga has helped me learn to sit with uncomfortable emotions. I used to become disoriented whenever strong emotions such as fear or anger arose. Yoga has helped me to now come to the mat without any judgment of my feelings but instead with an attitude of acceptance of those feelings. In that way, I ride waves of discomfort, breathing through times of intense feelings. I have been able to build a trust that I can sit with discomfort and even open up a little more space where I feel stuck. Yoga has taught me that those sensations are temporary and that in time they will pass. Because I am stuck today doesnít mean that Iíll be stuck for life. I now know and can remind myself that everything is in constant change.
Every day, when I go teach, I feel honored to be able to share my yoga experience and knowledge with other people. I share how yoga has helped me better tune in and respond to my bodyís needs, feeding it nourishing foods when I feel hungry, allowing it to rest when I feel tired, and giving it exercise and adventure when I feel the need to liven up my day. I have also developed more compassion toward myself which naturally seems to overflow into more compassion for others. My newfound sense of well-being I have found through my yoga practice has given me a new sense of connection as well as gratitude.