Thursday, June 26, 2014

How Yoga Changed My Life Part II

Prana Flow Teacher Trainees on Venice Beach 2007
When I first said to Guy, my husband, "I want to go do a yoga teacher training". Confused, he responded, "um... you don't like talking in front of people." At first, I was a little disappointed with his unsupportive response. But, I could hear my soul saying, "Yes that's exactly why I need to go."

Public speaking is a common fear. In fact, the number one fear for about 75% of adults. A real fear. And it dictated my life for a good 20 years. It wasn't just speaking, I didn't even want people looking at me including my family, friends and sure as heck strangers. As a young child, I cried when people started singing "Happy Birthday" to me.

I went to my first yoga teacher training immersion in February of 2007 to Venice Beach CA with Shiva Rea. I questioned my physical capabilities; I was nervous. I had already experienced some transformation through yoga, and now immersing myself in a strange place, with strangers, a new teacher and a lot of yoga I could taste the potential of a much greater transformation. The anticipation of this was thick because deep down I really wanted change.

Fear can be a great motivator for change. I didn't want to be scared anymore.

At the time, my yoga practice had progressed quickly and my awareness of Self was awakening, something kept telling me to keep going to class and to go do the training. There was a pull, a desire for more purpose in my life. At times, I would be in so much distress, to the point of depression, because this bound energy wanted out and I didn't understand or know how. I knew I had to do this training and it wasn't for the certification.

I entered the huge Exhale studio for the first time with about 70 other yogis. Most of us unsettled, fidgety, nervous about the next two weeks. It was then that I spotted a familiar face, my dear teacher from Boise, Jeffry (How Yoga First Changed My Life) . I felt relieved, comforted and surprised to see him. Right than, I knew I was in the right place. I spotted another familiar face. Micheline Berry, who I took my first yoga workshop from six months prior, which had a profound affect on me. Another sigh of relief. I immediately felt safe. Although at the time I really didn't know what that meant. But now, I can see that it was all aligned so perfectly because I needed the sense of security in order to truly transform in the experience I was about to have.

Even a small sense of safety while embarking into the unknown can be a catalyst for great transformation. 

We broke out into small groups for practice teaching sessions with Micheline. There were six teacher trainees and Micheline. It was my turn to go. My heart could have exploded out of my chest it was beating so hard and fast. I was directed to teach my fellow yogini the Cat/Cow vinyasa. She took here place on the floor in the middle of us all. Already shaking, I got up and stood next to Micheline as she was there to assist in the practice session. I don't think I was breathing at that time. She took one look at me. Everything stopped. She placed one hand on my heart, her other arm around me and said only this, "Oh my." She kept her gentle, compassionate gaze on me, while I stood there frozen and exposed while everyone stared at me, for what seemed like hours. I felt so contracted and tight everywhere in my body, especially my jaw and throat. Micheline still said nothing more, and just looked at me and held me in such a way that gave me permission to be vulnerable and finally, to let go. I stood there and cried at least to a point where I could speak. She guided me to begin. Somehow words made their way out of my shaking mouth to instruct my friend through the exercise. We finished and I took a seat and tried my best to be a witness to my friends while I still cried inside. This was only the beginning. The iron gates that held so much for so long opened up. Our session ended and I took my one and only "free pass" and skipped the next class, and headed to the beach. I laid myself out on the sand and sobbed for about an hour straight. If someone was to ask me why I was crying, I didn't have an answer. It just wouldn't stop. It came from deep within my throat. It finally subsided and I slowly carried myself back to my apartment feeling disoriented and tired, yet a lot lighter.

I completed the first of many training intensives feeling more than I ever felt before.  Opening to vulnerability allowed me to receive the yoga practice, on so many levels. I was full, overwhelmed, sore and certainly transformed.

This fear of speaking, of being seen, of being judged, criticized, of being honored, and yes sometimes admired that had choked out my potential for so long loosened its grip around my neck and my passage to self-empowerment had begun.

Friday, June 6, 2014

What Sustains Me?

My yoga practice. The results of yoga keep me connected to my body, to a root source of energy that clears, renews and aligns with truth. Dedication to the practice, bhakti, helps me to hold myself up again and again; I don't collapse with fear, because I remember who I am. These roots deepen and strengthen, supporting expansive expression. The clarity of my form seals cracks in the foundation, heals leaks of negligence. The more clear I get, the more strength I gain, the more I expand, the more I can hold. And my heart loves this; it seeks connection and expression through opening. This sustains. Because truth is sustainable. 

Tending my garden. I dig, I plant, I weed and repeat. I look forward to the ripening tomato that seems like a lifetime of waiting; I'm reminded that the anticipation is more exhausting than moments of patience. I underestimate the space the pumpkins will stretch. Wild vivacious vines. I uproot the undesirables; this is my meditation. The tending nourishes me more than the fruit itself.

Dancing. So many reasons why dancing nourishes, sustains, supports all else. Freedom of expression and loosening of lifes' grip. Freeing my pelvis renews my connection to a universal primal force.

Relations. Reflections, inspiration, validation. To serve. To be heard, to be seen, to give, to recieve. Without You, who am I?

And it all leads to Love. Love for each other, love for this place, this body, love for the Divine. 

Love sustains.