The first lesson I learned in Yoga Teacher Training was the following:
- Yoga is all about you
- Yoga is all about non-attachment
To think of embarking on something that is all about me and to let go of all the weight I carry with me daily is quite intimidating. Isn’t that selfish?
I’ve discovered that I have started to enter a selfish stage in my life where I am placing my own self as my top priority. Whether that is by allowing myself the time and space to do what feels right, and to honor that, or by saying no to things so as not to overextend myself. To be selfish doesn’t necessarily mean something egotistic or negative. The root of the word is self – and if our self is not whole, nothing else can be.
As we realize the value in caring for our self in every way, the attachment to things, thoughts, people are no longer lifelines for us. We slowly find our true self that is not clouded by societal norms, traditions, or upbringing.
A recent conversation has left me pondering how we introduce ourselves. In the moment where we are meant to express our truth, what we tend to identify ourselves with is surprising.
Do we identify ourselves by our profession? I am a manager of an international program.
Or what we used to be? I was a teacher.
Do we identify ourselves through someone else? I am Blake’s fiancé.
Or by what we have? I have a dog named Toro.
Or where we live? I live in Portsmouth.
Or where we grew up? I’m from Connecticut.
Do we identify ourselves through experience? I lived abroad and traveled for a few years.
Even more perplexing, when questioned, do we answer with the negative?
What is your favorite music? I don’t like Country.
What type of food do you like? I’m not a fan of really spicy food.
What is your favorite candy? I hate licorice.
What do you want to do with your life? I don’t want a standard 9-5.
How often do we introduce ourselves by what we value? How we feel? What we love?
My name is Amelia and I am stubborn, crave novelty, enjoy the ritual of learning, feel lost sometimes, and believe love heals.
I’ve found that one must accept and embrace that first lesson in order to be successful in the next: balance.
Yoga is also all about balance.
Effort and ease
Stillness and movement
Lifting and grounding
Strength and softness
Through opposition we find our solid base. We are able to twist our bodies into an intricate bind but still feel our lungs expand in our front and back body. We are able to fold forward but have an open chest. We are able to fuel our internal fire and speed up our heart rate while having controlled breath. We are able to be completely present in our practice but not be attached. We are able to meditate through movement of our bodies.
When our pendulum swings to either extreme we are thrown off course. In a weekend we can clean the house and complete every errand on Saturday, but then never leave the couch on a Sunday. We try to solve all the problems until we’re frustrated and exhausted and then resort to escapism and recluse. There is that delicate, and sometimes fleeting, space in between the two extremes where we need solid footing. When holding that space, we can confidently straddle both worlds. We can be the attentive friend and also give attention to ourselves. We nurture our creative dreams while still being practical in society.
The abrupt shift in the seasons this year threw me off kilter. It seems we are no longer eased through nature’s transitions so there is no grace period of adapting. The Indian summer gave us an extended Fall that peaked with a bizarrely chaotic October, which exhausted my ability to find balance, and quickly led me into a solemn start to November. My mantra lately has been to find calm in the chaos. The chaos of life is never-ending but we stay afloat by holding on to the serenity. You will struggle to hold a balancing posture in yoga without a drishti, a focal point. You will struggle to overcome the chaos with out finding a moment of peace.
This is why yoga is a lifestyle. It teaches us how to navigate this world after we step off our mats. However, to end a cycle of scheduling and compartmentalizing to create a holistic outlook of our existence is not achieved overnight – or in a 200 hour yoga teacher training class. This twenty-something's journey of self-discovery just went down a new road, and is far from over.
Light Heart. Light Spirit. Light Body. Light Mind.