While studying yoga in Rishikesh, India this summer, I was overwhelmed with the the feeling that I needed to come back to the United States rather than return to Ecuador. I realized that as much as I loved it there, I am not able to be of service in the way that I’m meant to be. I realized that I should be teaching yoga here, to correct some serious misconceptions about the practice. We use yoga to obsess about our bodies, rather than to transcend them. We’ve lost the heart of yoga and can barely capture its essence.
I’ll admit, I started doing yoga back in college because I wanted a sexy body. And that’s okay! Our reason for coming doesn’t matter so long as we step onto the mat. Over time, I realized that I had never regretted going to a class. Nearly every class ended with a sense of deep inner-peace, the blossom of increased physical and emotional alignment.
The physical piece is important! We must tune our bodies so that we can cultivate enough body awareness to next tune into our energy. It’s becoming common knowledge that we are animated by a consciousness that weaves in and out everything. In yoga, we call this prana. In other parts of the East it is called, Xi/Qi, in Christianity it is the Holy Spirit, and in ancient Egypt, it was ka. This is not new information.
The alignment I was experiencing at the end of class was a shift in this energy. After years of practice not only am I slimmer and stronger, but my ability to connect with my internal guidance system – the divinity within – has grown tremendously. I have clarity and better judgment. I have focus, insight, and more willpower. I am stronger and more balanced on all levels of being.
Yoga opens our bodies up and addresses energetic blocks. These blocks keep prana from flowing freely throughout our bodies. When the energy is not flowing with-ease throughout the body, the result is dis-ease. Stuck or blocked energy comes from a number of sources such as past traumas, injuries, accidents, resentments, heartbreak, grief or deeply held anger.
Yoga became my first love once I fully grasped its transformative powers. When my mom passed away unexpectedly during my initial yoga teacher training, it became much more than a physical practice to me.
The first day of my initial YTT (yoga teacher training), I learned that my mother was in a coma. Halfway through the six weeks, she died. On the day I graduated, her ashes showed up in a box. My relationship to yoga changed and I’m fairly certain this was God’s intention. It was imperative that I see yoga for what it is – an opportunity to heal along a spiritual path. It has helped me to heal from my mother’s death and the residual effects of a messy childhood.
Overwhelmed by the impact of her passing on my heart, mind, and spirit – all three longing for attention and healing – I went to yoga for relief, a tradition full of healing techniques that addressed all parts of me. In yogic practices such as controlling the energetic body through understanding of the chakra system, pranayama (breathing techniques), mantra (chanting), meditation, and the physical practice itself, I coped with my grief.
This is not solely a conditioning of body, but a practice that renews your entire being. It is time and space, set aside, to do the kind of inner work that leads to a sense of wholeness and alignment with our true nature.
Emotions need to be processed and released from the body, lest they become disease. I have seen people change in the space of a week during an intensive yoga retreat. I’ve watched them lighten up, physically and emotionally. I’ve watched the stress melt away and life return to their cheeks. In fact, I’ve seen this happen in the space of an hour. I see the magic of yoga happen with every single class that I teach. This is why I love yoga. This is why I feel passionate about teaching yoga. It is so much more than a gym class.
Later this week I’ll explain how the body is viewed through the lens of yoga: the five koshas, our five layers of being and how yoga heals them. Stay tuned!
As always… I love you!