Today I want to bring you into my inner world and into my experience of yoga over the years. I want to share with you what yoga means for me, and explore it’s ever-evolving expression in and through me. My intention is that you’ll be moved and inspired to discover and tune into your own experience of yoga and its ever evolving expression in your life.
To begin my share, we need to go back to 2013, so come with me for a moment while we journey back there…it was a sunny, crisp, November afternoon in Santa Barbara, and seemingly, as I merged onto the 101, nothing was out of the ordinary. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: overwhelm, dizziness, intense tingling in my whole body, and feeling like I was going to pass out.
“What’s happening to me??”
I hadn’t felt these kinds of sensations in years. And I felt SO scared. Panicked.
There’s so much more I could share about that day, but what I want you to get is this: what essentially was a panic attack (mixed with adrenal fatigue and energy depletion)–and the following year’s worth of experiences of intermittent anxiety, dizziness, uncertainty, fear, and panic–was a huge wake-up call. My body was sending me messages, and those feelings were a catalyst for me to start getting really honest about how I was living.
In looking at how I’d been meeting myself, I realized that even though I was doing yoga all the time on my mat, had a yoga-based business, and felt I was cultivating “alignment,” I wasn’t fully living yoga beyond a very narrow and limited view. Rather than my practice being about yoking all the parts of one’s self, which is one meaning of the word “yoga,” I’d been approaching yoga as something mostly physical to achieve…something that needed to be done “right” or that I could be “good” at, and that would ultimately serve as a cure all for everything that felt “wrong.”
In other words, it was mostly just exercise to me at that time, and I’d made up a story that if I wasn’t always in a studio practicing a hardcore physical yoga that it somehow “didn’t count.” When I was in class, I often found myself way more focused on the shape of pose and what it was supposed to look like from the outside, rather than being present to my experience inside the pose. I was so caught up in how my yoga practice looked and in what I expected it to be “doing for me” that I was ignoring the reality of my inner experience, which was still one of pushing, forcing and striving.
In hindsight, while this initial experience in late November 2013 was not very pleasant, it opened me up to myself in ways I could never have imagined. It opened me up to an awareness that yoga is not just something I “do.” It’s not something to consume or perfect; rather, it’s a pathway and practice in coming home to myself and a commitment to living in alignment with the deepest parts of who I am.
The truth I’ve learned, as I’ve practiced yoga as a means to reuniting all parts of myself since then, is that yoga is about meeting yourself–over and over again–inside these shapes (on and off your mat), this breath, this movement.
So I want to leave you today with a question to play with, one I am intending you to handle with curiosity and gentleness:
Where in your life are you getting caught up in the outside world and what things look like and ignoring your internal experience as a result?
What impact is that having on you?
I’d love to know, so send me an email to share what you’re getting and what resonates.
P.S. Stay tuned for the next newsletter, in which I’ll share some new possibilities to the question, “if practice is not about consumption or “achieving”, then what is it about? And what shifts you can make to create a practice that is more internally focused.”