Yoga, who?

"...when I am in that place in me, and you are in that place in you...together, we are one"

Friends, lovers, spirit guides and former therapists of mine, gather 'round! I have crossed over to the dark side. There is no going back, the bell cannot be un-rung and more importantly, the credit card cannot be un-swiped; I am officially in YOGA TEACHER TRAINING! This is gonna be a good one...

Just so we're clear, Yoga never made ANY sense to me. Though I'm a born 'n raised Southern California girl, nurtured and influenced by the tree-hugging, free-loving, sometimes-bra-wearing, hippie-dippy, skateboarding, wave-cruisin', "yea, for sure, totally, dude", culture, yoga seemed WAY too...lame. Cheesy. Reserved only for the skinny-flexy-bendy body. If Yoga were a person, I pictured it dressed head to toe in LuluLemon, waiting in line at Starbucks for its yoga-frappa-cappa-happa-latte, with a double shot of  patience and two pumps of humility. (Just two.) It would drive its Mercedes SUV into the parking lot of the outrageously expensive yoga studio and just before it pulls into the perfect parking space, in swoops a '92 canary yellow Mazda Protege, to which Yoga screams, "Namaste, A&*%#$@!"

Turns out, Yoga isn't usually like that, but I digress...

I started practicing doing yoga during my 14th year of dieting, so all I really cared about was how many calories this situation was going to burn and thus, how much weight I was going to lose. I'd come to yoga, sweat my brains out, hate my body during every pose and desperately wonder why I can't do a Revolved Crescent Lunge, otherwise known as Parivrtta Anjaneyasana, --I SWEAR I didn't look in my notes just now!-- So I rolled up my mat with anger, wiped my sweaty, melted face, stomped off the Yoga playground and didn't come back for two years.

If you've been following my blog or if you've known me for at least five minutes, you know any activity that frustrates and challenges me, or makes me feel defeated and fat, is my cue to make friends with it, get under its skin and learn how to teach it.

When I decided to return to my mat, I had not dieted in two years. I was studying at The Institute for the Psychology of Eating and I had gained a lot of weight clarity around movement vs. exercise. I was now willing to buy into Yoga being a practice; a way to acknowledge, awaken and even sustain my presence as a human being on planet Earth. So, when my studio announced Yoga Teacher Training was coming up, I knew it was time to really hone my skills, both as a "yogi" and also as a graduated Eating Psychology Counselor, whom advocates Health at EVERY Size. If I could truly be shown that yoga is for EVERY body type, then I knew not only could I practice this, but I could teach this. I could live this and I could embody this.

So here I am, six weeks into Teacher Training and a world away from where I started. I am both humbled and inspired by our Teacher Training Leaders and most importantly, the fellow yogis I share this training with. Though learning a class sequence, knowing breath/alignment  cues and memorizing the Sanskrit name for each pose comes very easy to me, I'm far from becoming a Yoga Teacher. I'm not interested in what I'm going to say as a Yoga Teacher, but rather who I'm going to be as a Yoga Teacher. Indeed, I have a long way to go and here are some things I've figured out so far. Hopefully they resonate with you, too...

Yoga affirms that affirmations only change the thoughts, not the thinker.

Yoga doesn't care how much I weigh.

Yoga reminds me that my body communicates with me through the universal language of sensation.

Yoga encourages me to fly my arms in some cases and shine my heart in others.

Yoga tells me to lift up, drive forward and stack my joints, to stay safe.

Yoga reminds me to move with ease, speak with grace and live with integrity.

I don't always leave my mat, feeling great about my body, my relationships or my purpose. I'm not always beaming with joy after Savasana. I don't always breathe from the depths of my belly. My core isn't always engaged, but I am. (Not, like, literally...but...never mind, you understand.) Anyway, I don't resent my practice anymore. Mastering Yoga postures (asanas) is not all it's cracked up to be...but telling the truth is. Moving my body is. Breathing is. I am a woman who tells the truth, loves easily and believes anything can be solved with a really good Downward Facing Dog. Adho Mukha Svanasana. (Again, no notes).

To quote one of my cherished and inspiring Yoga teachers:

"In Yoga we say 'Namaste', which is a kind greeting between two souls, acknowledging the light, the teacher and the student in all of us. When I am in that place in me, and you are in that place in you, together we are one." -Brit Neilson

I now bow forward, to seal in my carefully chosen words, send them out to you and sigh, Namaste.