Yoga teaches us to be in the now – but how can we avoid re-living and forecasting events that are beyond our control? How can we tame the “monkey mind” clamoring for our attention at every turn? We spend precious amounts of time telling ourselves stories, often times with negative emotions based on fear and self-doubt. These thoughts are limiting and lead to struggles with confidence, second-guessing our every move, and slowing our process of productivity and success.
The thing is, these thoughts are totally normal. We ALL have them, pretty much every day, about all sorts of things. It’s what you do when fear and self-doubt kick that makes all the difference in the world!
The very first of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the foundational book of yoga, in sanskrit reads Atha Yoga Anushasanum, translated as “yoga is the exploration of now.” One of my teachers, Chrissy Carter, offered her translation, which is my most favorite “Sutra 1.1~ Yoga begins when you meet yourself where you are”.
During my first yoga teacher training at YogaWorks in NYC, the pressure I put on myself was simply unfair. How will I remember all the sanskrit names? Anatomy and alignment, philosophy, pranayama, smart sequencing, prenatal, subtle body, oh my…I must retain it all NOW or I’ll be a complete failure! The information was powerful and challenged everything I thought I knew – about myself and how I relate to the greater whole, about my physical practice and really listening to my body, and, most importantly, about my ideas of what I truly AM capable of. It was only the beginning, yet, it was when I softened my expectations that I was able to fully hear the information.
If I had simply met myself in the moment, I would have seen that I was simply a student in the early stages of a learning process. This is not unlike many new life experiences we face – becoming a new parent, starting a new school or job, moving to a new city, just to name a few. Sure at the onset we’re scared, confused and uncertain, but isn’t that to be expected? We’re learning somewhat of a new language and absorbing information that will become part of our daily existence. The work is to embrace these precious moments of being in a new experience, and relish the gifts to seek, explore, question and evolve through the practice of NOW. Looking back at my initial teacher training experience, I would’ve paused to let my heart be more gentle and kind than the unhelpful thoughts filling my head.
Many years later, I’m happy to report I’m able to more fully stand in my power and not waste time expecting to be anywhere but exactly where I am. After resisting, over-analyzing and putting unnecessary pressure on myself, the most valuable thing I learned in my first teacher training is to trust in the process; to do the work and surrender to my efforts! It will take many more years for me to find my truest voice as a teacher, and in doing what I love, I welcome the unfolding 😉
In the words of Rainer Maria Rilke “have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
Yoga grounds me! On my mat, I feel I can be the most honest and true version of myself. We all seek health, happiness, peace, contentment and unity; yoga feeds all of that within me and inspires me to guide students to explore and unfold through their own practice. In class, I offer clear instructions of alignment and breath, challenge physical awareness, stamina, flexibility and concentration, while encouraging students to look beyond the physical and take the state of being that remains after a practice, off the mat and into their life. What inspires your practice?