One of the things I love about being a teacher of yoga is that it regularly forces me to examine my own life and how I am living it.
This is due primarily through the class themes that we have.
Most of us know that yoga is not just a physical exercise practice. In the truest sense of the word yoga, the physical postures actually make up such a small part of the whole of what yoga is. Yoga in its biggest form is an avenue for self discovery on all levels, a means to heal ourselves, put ourselves back together, make ourselves more whole and ultimately, give us an experience of not feeling separate from not only the rest of humanity, but all of creation as a whole.
Wow, pretty heady stuff, but it is!
The class themes are born out of that. What we work through on our yoga mats can be a reflection and a microcosm of the greater macrocosm, what is going on around us every day in our world. We practice patience, tolerance, perseverance, balance, equanimity, all of these kinds of things. We dance with our wholeness and slowly come to accept ourselves as an integral part of the whole, experience maybe for a moment, our unity, have one momentary taste of the bliss of knowing we are beyond our body, thoughts, feelings and emotions to experience a oneness that is so relaxing, so reassuring, so real and emotionally healing.
These are the moments I live for in my own practice and strive to facilitate for others.
Anyhow, I digress.
Recently, we had a theme of “Santulita” in one of our classes. This could be translated to mean emotional balance.
Somehow, these concepts or ideas pop into my head. I start thinking about them, what they mean, how to incorporate these universal themes into my yoga classes, and inevitably, these themes end up on my mind for days.
After teaching a class on emotional balance and wholeness and asking students to inquire as to what THEY need to create emotional balance and wholeness in their lives for themselves. I leave that class thinking along those same lines for myself. Sometimes for days, that theme will follow me around, lingering on my mind.
I love this.
Where attention goes, energy flows. Which means that, what we spend time thinking about is what develops in us, is what we learn, it’s where energy flows, just by keeping it sort of at the forefront of our minds.
The other day the thoughts were about prana, lifeforce, vitality, chi, that feeling of aliveness, where do I get mine from? How is this related to spinal mobility/flexibility? These thoughts follow me around for days, which provides a constant reminder to me to breathe deeply and mindfully, to eat fresh foods and get fresh air and exercise. It is a constant reminder to be mindful of my posture and my movement and to... express that movement, whenever I get a chance, whether that is incorporating stretches and yoga poses throughout my day that just feel good and get the energy moving in my spine or just hitting the trails and going for a long hike.
Energy flow where attention goes.
In order to stay in integrity and practice what I preach, sometimes this means that I take my office outside. It might mean I have to leave the city for the afternoon to bask in the healing energy of nature and quiet in order to find that balance and equilibrium. It might mean that I incorporate two nights out camping each week. If that is what it takes to find my emotional balance, then I am willing to do that, to prioritize that. It is important to me to practice what I preach and it amazes me how easy it is to think you KNOW something intellectually, only to find that you have to “learn” it over and over again, viscerally or somatically: so many reminders to practice, so many ways practice can look like. It is always easier to talk about it than to do it.
What we do on the mat is only such a small piece, a training ground really, for what we do in the outer world.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to teach. The opportunities to learn and grow are abundant. The challenges are plentiful but I wouldn’t have it any other way.