For decades I’ve dabbled in yoga dipping my toe in the warm water long enough to feel the bliss (as well as the earnest desire for more) then ultimately face the decision to buy in, all-or-nothing, and take that spiritual journey of yoga or be a bystander in a way, someone who does the asanas (poses) for health or fitness, and nothing else.
Whenever I reached the full commitment phase of my practice (and it was always there impatiently tapping it’s foot staring at me like, “What’s it going to be this time?”) I’d resort to holding my breath as I turned my back on the most fulfilling part of my personal life. I wouldn’t accept real happiness back then; I felt I didn’t deserve it. And I couldn’t allow going there, so deep inside myself that I’d unearth my demons, blindfolded and gagged for years. I didn’t want to face what was trapped within my strong, resilient facade. Until now.
A few years ago a friend, also a yoga instructor, told me she wanted to be my teacher. Sheepishly I had to admit that I didn’t have the funds for such a lavish expense, a private yoga instructor. It sounded so extravagant, like a live-in nanny. I’ll never forget her response, so calm and cool. She said that she was called to do it and would come to my home for free. Who would turn that down, I thought. I set up an appointment immediately, as if this special offer deal would run out at midnight, completely unaware of how actions have a ripple effect on our lives.
The breath was my first gift. Unbeknownst to me I held my breath for the majority of my day (and my life if I want to be honest with you) and the chain reaction inside my body led to more fear, more anxiety. This was the first hurdle, breathing. Next came sinking into the discipline of the asanas, unlocking my old thought patterns about what my body can or cannot do. Living with where we are at today, right now. This, I’ve found is ongoing, and I love it. We are limitless creatures.
Soon my teacher led me to books that expanded my practice, things like Pema Chodron, Louise Hay and Don Miguel Ruiz, cracking the shell of my old patterns and retraining my inner dialogue. Effortlessly I became open to all the aspects of yoga that I feared before. Divine time. Divine order. Don’t get me wrong, embracing the 8 limbs of yoga is not an easy (or quick) task. You don’t just wake up one day and nail it. It’s an unfolding, like slowly peeling layers of an extremely large onion. Most of us spend our lives just enjoying the work, the practice of yoga. And that’s enough.
My mother chuckled when she heard I was (finally) focusing on my practice. “You were about 4 years old when you begged me to buy this little book about yoga at the grocery store. Jenny, you never wanted anything before and you never wanted anything so badly. You had to have it,” she explained, “Once you got home you spent the next five years doing these crazy poses. You’ve always done yoga.” Funny how people see things from the outside. Yoga has always been there for me – guiding me, comforting me, restoring me, energizing me, calming me.. and ultimately, waiting for me to come back home.
Yesterday my daughter slid in when I was preparing for meditation, her long locks falling into her bright eyes as she stared at me. “May I join you?” she said softly. I thought you’d never ask! And there we were, mother and daughter sitting in lotus position, hands in anjali mudra, smiling at one another in perfect silence. Bliss.