Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Beauty We Love...

Let the beauty we love, be what we do.
~ Rumi ~

From the moment I first began this practice of Yoga - I loved it. It has inspired me in countless ways, and continues to do so day after day. I love introducing people to this practice and watching them awaken to themselves, revive their bodies, resuscitate their spirits, and recover a belief in their infinite potential.

Teaching new students always makes me smile, because I get to go back and remember how I felt in the early days of my yoga practice: I felt powerful, and real. It was quite literally like waking up and realizing you are connected to everything on the planet. I remember feeling like I could do anything. A deep-seated passion started clawing its way out of me, and I felt a compelling desire to change the world, or at the very least, make it a better, more beautiful, compassionate place. There was a distinct sense that all the answers I would ever need were hidden within myself, and all I had to do was uncover them.

I stood taller, walked with a new sense of confidence, and breathed deeper. Every breath was rejuvenating and sweet. I can remember feeling like all the toxins (and there was some serious toxic build-up I assure you) were being purged from my body, and I felt clean for the first time since I was a child: pure, simple, and soft. The idea of polluting my body started to become less and less appealing. I began eating healthier, and treating my body better. I felt a growing connection to the inherent life force within, and a deepening sense of self-worth (something I had never really felt before) and it penetrated every area of my life; all of my relationships changed because of this.

My connection to this practice began as a true love affair. I would have ecstatic emotions wash over me after every class, and when I left the room I felt as if I were walking on air.

I experienced so much joy and energy from this practice that I could not find enough people or activities to overflow it to. I wanted to have this experience more and more – I could not get enough. As a result, I practiced more, and immersed myself in every teaching I could find on this ancient philosophy for living, and way of seeing the world.
Alas, as with all brilliant love affairs, after some time, perhaps a few years or less, the “real world” began to creep back into my cloistered little ‘yoga-nirvana.’ Now, I found that many days the practice was challenging or even difficult. It seemed to push all my sensitive spots, pointing out areas of weaknesses, asking me to change certain things about my lifestyle, presenting obstacles to promote patience, strength, and perseverance.

Like every relationship, I was finding that this practice above all else, required consistent dedication, commitment, and daily attention. Some days it felt like more work then I thought I was capable of.

In the early days of Yoga practice I could not wait to get on my yoga mat, now… it required some strong determination, and it was only because of a promise I had made to myself to at least “show up,” that I would often even start to practice.

However, once the initial obstacle of getting on my mat was overcome, I found that I still loved it, challenging or not, and I still felt all the benefits and more afterwards. I would notice how it lifted my spirits, and created a sense of clarity in my thinking, and how much more balanced I felt from it.

The newness of first love had worn off, and the real practice had begun. Even though I did not have that same 'blissed-out,' rapturous sensation that often accompanied my early days of practice, I found that I had something much more substantial and grounded.

At this point I realized it was because of the Yoga that I made it through the day without a major breakdown. I would often find the practice with me periodically, sitting beside me in a stressful situation, whispering to me, “just breathed deeply,” and tenderly showing me how to release tension, before the anxiety could take hold.

The practice was with me in the passenger seat while driving the car, guiding me to be calm, telling me that there was no need to rush, assuring me that all things happen in their own perfect time. I would find it showing up in various situations all throughout my day, and because of it, I never felt alone.

These days, my relationship with this practice feels more like that of an intimate friend. I no longer find it sitting beside, but I carry it in my heart at all times.

My day would be incomplete without it, and I know that something essential would be missing from my life had it not found me.

It continues to bring me back to myself, while still challenging me to keep it real, be honest, let go.

It fully aids in transforming those dark nights into light, and it continually acts as my teacher both on and off the yoga mat.

It goes on gently revealing the many ‘blind spots’ I still have, and encourages more growth in those areas I would rather forget about.

Some days the practice is nurturing and tender, at other times it is strict and demanding; but every time I begin to inhale and lift my hands above my head, I know I have returned home.
Through teaching, I am reminded above all what this practice can be for people. I see the excitement at the start, the fresh joy of new love. I also witness the struggles and discipline that come up along the way, the contentment of coming home to an old friend, and the all the delight interwoven between each new transformation.

I get to witness the everyday commonplace courage that our students demonstrate on a regular basis every time they get on their mat.

I watch the practice be for them a lover, a teacher, a disciplinarian, a healer, a mother, a father, and a friend. I see all the work and effort that each person exerts in order to grow and change on a daily basis.

They become stronger and yet, somehow softer. They develop the willingness to bend, to adjust, to relate more intimately with their own self, and as a result, all their relationships deepen and become more meaningful.

Watching our students gives me hope. I find it tremendously inspiring to be a part of their journey. During those days when I catch myself wondering who is going to answer the many desperate cries from our planet, address issues of war and oppression, help cure hunger and hopelessness, bring friendship to the lonely and suffering, I look up and am reminded - We Are.

We practice for it daily. This practice of yoga not only works on us as individuals - transforming our lives; but it also brings us together.

Through our commitment to it, we begin to dip our feet into the ocean of the infinite, and taste something truly divine within. We recognize that we are all apart of this living, breathing, eternal life force, and that we are interdependent and indispensably connected.

Little by little the presence of this practice spreads into every area of our existence, and because of it we learn to listen.

When we take the time to develop this awareness, we realize that we instinctively know how to help each other, and will uncover our purpose more and more through working together to heal a world in need.