Growing up a dancer I was often given the message to push past the pain, to keep on dancing, stretch a little further. Much emphasis was put on the esthetics of the movement and not necessarily the structure of it. Not that my teachers over the years were not conscious of injury prevention, they paid attention to a certain extent to this (usually this was stronger from the ones who sustained injuries their selves). It became ingrained into my body that pain was normal and OK.
What I didn’t realize was this was spilling over into my emotional life as well. I was allowing myself to be in pain to make others happy. Putting my own feelings or emotions aside to put others first and I had been doing this for years! Wow! How did I miss this?
Again it is my Yoga Teacher training that has given me a deeper understanding of this issue on a physical level to reinforce the healing at a mental level. (Everyone said “Get ready, YTT will emotionally shake up your world”) My teachers have a deep understanding of yoga being mind, body and soul, as well as the physical injuries that can occur by pushing ourselves past our bodies comfort point. My history teacher, states the body will not willingly hurt itself, it is the mind that pushes the body past what it is capable of to a place of injury. Oh the mind! How can you be so helpful and so hurtful all at the same time.
Here on my mat I have allowed myself to quiet my mind and listen to my body instead. This has brought my practice of yoga to a whole new place. Greater alignment has been found in many positions just by simply listening to where my body has landed in a posture then gently correcting it. This has granted me deeper inner awareness within each pose as well. I no longer force my leg higher where I think I should be. Now I take it to where it feels good then just beyond to “work” the posture. This is a place of strength instead of frustration of my old ways.
The word asana is loosely translated into pose or posture, but it really means calm, steady seat (the first posture was a seated one). This is where the magic happens…each asana being done with the purpose of calm and steady takes us to a place within, a place of strength, a place of power. Here in this magical place our mindfulness, rather than being filled with shouts of anger - higher, deeper, I can’t do this, I am falling over, just hold it a minute longer, oh ya breathe. It is here I find deep inner peace. It is here I
remember that I must honour myself – mind, body and soul.
This is not something totally new to me, but just refreshed. I know can see this with new eyes. My awareness is heightened. So today and forever more I will pay closer attention to my body and what it has to say. I will also listen carefully to the whispers of my heart and soul too honouring my feelings knowing pain is not the answer, a place of calm steadiness is. No longer will I sacrifice myself, I am important. I am worthy of abundance and happiness. Namaste
This story begins last Friday night at Yoga Teacher Training. It was a delicious practice of hip openers, dim lights and Katie’s soothing voice talking us through deep, long held stretches on our backs. A practice which appeared should be simple, yet in turn was difficult for me.
Quickly I found keeping my foot against the wall for support impossible. My leg positions not where I would like them. My hip popping out of alignment as I forced my body where I thought it should be instead of where it belonged. My mind wandering to “What have you let this body become? You use to be able to stretch more. Remember your dancing body and how flexible it was? Where did it go? Have you cared for your body at all? What have you been doing with your time?” The monkey mind was cruel. I felt uncomfortable (as my body was already dealing with aches and pains I brought to class, on top of the ego bullying going on). I was desperately seeking my sacred place usually found with ease on my yoga mat – my sanctuary. But tonight the usual practice of yoga – mind, body and spirit was at best disconnected.
Feeling defeated driving home, my ego continued to berate me until an outpouring of tears brought it to an abrupt end. Emotionally cracked wide open I reminded myself that I AM what I AM. I must dig deep to love my body the way it is right now. Letting go of the past and forgiving myself for what I did or didn’t do. As I continued driving I remembered the empty house awaiting my arrival (not even a smiling yorkipoo to greet me as she has gone for sleepovers too on this busy week-end). No one there to share kind words, a hug, a smile or an “I love you”. Here I realized I must love myself and that had to be enough. The love of another has no meaning if I do not love myself first. This love is much deeper and more profound than any I will feel from another. This is the unconditional love of self. From this moment on I can no longer go back to that place of emptiness and alone. Knowledge keeps me from this place. Knowledge has taken me to a place greater than I have ever imagined before. Tonight a new journey of love begins within me where deep peace is found. My arrival home found me emotionally spent, exhausted and ready for bed.
Saturday morning brought a feeling of heaviness and fog. Determined to move through this to a lighter place I spent my hour drive to Hamilton with positive self-talk, love and reassurance of an amazing day to come and that is exactly what happened. I found myself in Steve’s hot yoga class hearing exactly what I needed to. Validation of self love from the teary yet, enlightened drive home the night before. He spoke of honouring our bodies. Breathing through the experience of each pose only taking the body to where it wanted to be. Not forcing, but allowing yourself to be present. Listening to what your body was saying, what your breath was saying, what your practice was saying. Deepening awareness. Bringing my practice back to that sacred place I know and love. The class left me sweaty, balanced and loving me deeply once again. I was ready for another day of teacher training.
This theme continued through the day’s YTT class and into Sunday’s too with the words of each teacher and even my fellow classmates. I am grateful for the connection between us all, a freedom felt allowing for honesty and authenticity amongst the group. A place sharing of self occurs. A place where I feel not as alone on my inward journey.
Later this week as I spoke of my experience with a yogi friend, she shared some interesting information about the poses of my Friday night-crack-me-wide-open yoga class. As I hope you know, yoga is more that exercise. Each asana also affects our subtle or spiritual body as well. Our back is our spiritual side or universal consciousness which was being allowed to rest in this practice. Our front is our emotional side or individual consciousness being exposed during practice. Finally, we hold a lot of emotion in our hips, so doing hip openers allows for the emotions to be released and stretched out of us. Everything was making even more sense. Everyone said yoga teacher training would crack you wide open emotionally and no one was kidding!
Although this may seem like a fairy tale ending, I know this is going to be maybe one of the hardest legs of the journey because with knowledge comes power and with power comes responsibility. A responsibility to myself to always love me unconditionally. The power to share this incredible lesson with others, especially my children. This knowing allows me to move forward never looking back at the place of emptiness and alone I once lingered in. With love of myself I no longer visit there. This love doesn’t guarantee life will always be sparkles and rainbows, but it does promise love in the darkest of moments and in the brightest of moments. It will always be there, I just need to remember. So do you!
A season of change … the trees turning shades of yellow, orange and red. The air turning crisp. Wrapped up in cozy sweaters and scarves. Picking apples. Pumpkins nestled on porches in preparation for Halloween. Cravings for hardy meals laced with spices, warming tummies. Soft mittens worn on cool morning walks to the bus and watching your breath appear like magic in
the air. Going for long walks in the woods with a pallet of colours strewn across the forest floor and the sound of leaves crunching under foot. The giddy anticipation of costumes and trick-or-treats from my kids. This is my October. Bringing the season of fall – my favourite time of year!
The fall awakens a fire deep within me; warming me from the inside out in preparation for winter, the season of rest. My heart ignites with fall colours dancing before me, a beautiful sight to behold. (Feeling blessed living in a climate with 4 seasons.) My soul also ignites with the return of
cooler weather, reminding me to be present in my body. Fully present feeling the touch of cold on my face, the warmth of my scarf or the tender hands of a child being held as we walk to a familiar destination. Igniting trust in what this change brings. Releasing old feelings and patterns like the trees surrendering their leaves. Shedding the old then resting in preparation to give
birth to new life once again.
Perched on my mediation pillow I plunge deep into contemplation of what this season of endings brings. This year has brought many ups and downs. Many lessons and moments of learning. Realizations of things that must be surrendered, things that must be welcomed into my being once again. A true sense of trust in my path and knowing that all is unfolding as it should. I welcome the feelings and emotions to rush over me with each thought and each release. Above all I welcome the love of self – authentic, sincere and deep. To love oneself in a moment of quiet and alone is to love freely. To love oneself in the dark moments of release is unconditional. To love oneself in the moment of surrender is bliss.
So I welcome you to love yourself – truly and deeply love yourself unconditionally for the beautiful soul you are. Celebrate endings in your own fall meditation releasing all that no longer serves you. Inviting in the changing of your own colours. Hello October! Welcome Fall! Namaste