Beyond Yoga: Finding Yourself Inside and Outside of Yoga
Ever wondered how yoga fits in to your life or how you fit in with the yoga world? As a yoga practitioner, do you compartmentalize yoga to be something separate you study or do you weave all of who you are into yoga? Should you leave behind certain aspects of who you are and what you love to be a better yogi? I contemplate these questions frequently and continue to come up with answers that evolve over time and fluctuate with who I become.
You don’t have to drink kombucha to get into triangle pose. You don’t have to give up chocolate to meditate. You don’t have to let go of sports to be in yoga shape. The yoga clothes don’t increase flexibility in your heart. Enlightenment does not happen just because you let go of all of who you are to attain spiritual realization. Continue to be who you are and do what quickens your blood. Don’t out-fit to fit-in.
As beginning practitioners it is important, however, to observe routines, habits, beliefs and behaviors to learn more of ourselves, and “why” we do what we do. This ensures what we do is based on our wants and needs, and not the paradigms of how others think we should live our life. If your family is full of doctors and you decide to become a doctor to fit in with the family or because it is the occupation you feel obligated to, you are neglecting your spirit, your voice, your birth-identity. You are neglecting living your life and slowly begin to choke prana from your soul - simply because you conform your mind to live in someone else’s body. Not your own. Your mind and body are living their truly intended way and they are not meant to conform to someone else’s paradigm. Mixed messages are being driven from the brain, your thoughts, to the cells of the body. The cells literally begin to adapt into the body of this other life being exemplified - not your own true self.
I strained my way into conforming to ideals that were non-existent in my own true living. The strain got to my body, my heart, my mind, and my spirit and slowly began to crack through the shell of who I thought I was supposed to be. Interests and passions, colors and styles, designs and activities pumped life back into my hollowed psyche little by little and I began to see again who I was - ultimately who I was supposed to be - ME! These “me” aspects helped to chip away at the straining shell I was living through, until there was a breach and declaration that I couldn’t be the person I was living as any longer. I was not living as myself. I was living as a two-fold faux human based on the ideals of someone else.
This can also happen when we take the next step to becoming an instructor of yoga - leader of this spiritual path. Make this journey filled with spirit! Many yoga teachers struggle with having burning desires, interests, and passions that do not relate to yoga, per se. Professional or amateur athletes, military personnel, musicians, attorneys, and dancers tend to be the most common occupations in our Forrest Yoga family. These may represent common occupations, but what about common interests and passions? Hunting, running, botany, art, singing, divination, engineering, mechanics, skydiving, aerial sports, MMA - where do these aspects fit into a personal yoga practice? The truth is, yoga is a vehicle for a spiritual practice but it is not the only vehicle to live a spirit-filled life.
Your interests, all of them, have a place in yoga. What you are passionate about can be included and woven into your practice, both as a doer and instructor of yoga. All paths lead to the same place. You! And these multiple interests can be tools of inclusion for those you lead. You will have the ability to diversify how you reach the hearts and minds of others when you speak their language, based on their interests and their reality.
We, as teachers, are not on a podium to get others to conform to us. Instead, we should be skillful enough to reach inside the human beings in the room. We are here to cater to their needs and can best reach them by teaching through their model of the world. To do this, we need to reach inside ourselves for the threads woven together that create who we. Then, we can speak to that aspect in another.
Look into nature for elements of this truth. Rutilated star quartz as an example. The golden strands of rutile join at the hematite hub and can be a reminder that our center is a port for all aspects to dock. We become a mathematical formula denoting self.
Be you, as the epicenter of passionate filled action-quakes.
A(ctions) + B(eliefs) + C(haracters) + D(esires) + E(xperiences) + G(oals) = YOU(!)
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