Why I practice and teach yoga
I've practiced yoga with varying degrees of intensity and consistency for many years, starting in college. Especially when I was going through some tough times, my active practice helped me emotionally and mentally. Physically it did the same--I now view all these levels as fundamentally the same--so of course yoga made my body stronger and more flexible as it conditioned my less tangible aspects.
I began to get into yin yoga in my 30s, following a vague but persistent idea that I needed to grow and embody a more feminine set of values. I had the sense that the pace of my life was not natural to who I deeply was, that I was unbalanced, and that my attention was blown apart and out of control (the phrase "continuous partial attention" which I had read in some article, nagged at me). I was also becoming more and more aware of, and disturbed by, the ways in which I was distracting myself. I was sad that some deep and valuable parts of me were being buried under layers activity that lacked meaning.
I wasn't sure what all this added up to, or what needed to change, but the yin practice helped me dig into these areas of being and feeling, which started getting me in touch with my true nature, emotions, beliefs, assumptions, stories, and values. I started to engage with deeper questions more routinely and consciously (such as the deceptively simple: what am I actually FEELING now?). All of this started to unravel my understanding of who I was, what was going on with my life, what my values were... I wanted all that existential opening, and yin helped (it still helps).
So, for awhile I engaged with yoga at that level--it was supportive of my day-to-day life and inner journeys. I generally liked the people I met in yoga classes, and I was exceptionally lucky because the first yoga teachers I practiced regularly with (Danika Hendrickson and Julian Paik) are very special, wonderful teachers, and some of my favorite people.
When I decided to pursue teacher trainings in vinyasa and yin yoga, these were challenges to my ideas of who I was (a mind-focused person...?), but I didn't intend to teach yoga. I figured I was already a teacher and wanted to do something for myself for a change. Yet, during training and through a couple of substitute teaching experiences, I was surprised by the extent to which I wanted to help create a healing/change-of-consciousness experience for people, using all the tools at my disposal. It felt like a very natural thing to do.
In retrospect I see I have been trying to support people who may be going through what I am going through. I have found yoga an engaging, accessible way to get in touch with immediate sensory experience (especially body experience), attention, emotion, stories and all. I love to share this and to help people feel more comfortable and less judgmental with whatever falls in their field of attention (sometimes what we perceive is so hard to accept).
It's also important--and powerful--to be human together. I have experienced, in many classes and bodywork seminars, the power of groups to generate a strong, transformative energy. People really do entrain and amplify each other. This can be so inspiring and gratifying! Connection is essential!
At this point I consider yoga a means to help change consciousness in a way that is supportive of undoing patterns that do not serve us. We have all learned ways of perceiving that may not be in our best interest. The way this plays out for you is yours to discover, and so is the truth of yourself.
In my experience, some digging, undoing, unwinding, and clearing out is needed in the journey of figuring out the 'who am I' enough to bring values to intentions, and intentions to actions. This has inevitably caused major changes in my life. Wherever this takes you will be to a fuller realization of your own individuality--it's a map of a process, not a recipe for particular way of being. Really, it's you that takes yourself on this journey and validates what you discover. Your first-person experience is packed with information that can only make sense to you.
I wish you curiosity and increasing awareness, as well as freedom, space and support, to explore--and may your experiences be profound, surprising, and delightful. May you connect most gratifyingly to yourself and others, and may you discover you are not who you thought you were...
...you beautiful mystery...
For a description of the classes I teach, click here.
For a current class schedule, click here.