The Mat Yoga Studio is where I teach one of my babies – the training program, Advanced Yoga Studies. I was at their event, Karma Yoga Happy Hour, when the video crew asked to do an interview with me. I didn’t know what I had to say except that The Mat is a beautiful place to work because of the people there – but they pulled so much more out of me about AYS. I guess we can call this a promo for AYS – Katie and I talk about it at 2:40 or so. You may want to check out the end because I show some dance moves as poetic as Elaine from Seinfeld and her thumb dance.
We are all on a hero’s journey. Some of us know what we seek and others are completely unaware they are living a life of purpose. Joseph Campbell wrote a book called A Hero with a Thousand faces that outlines the myth of the hero. You can think of it as if your life is a book and you are the hero of the book. The hero changes the world. The hero helps others. The hero lives an extraordinary life.
In order to live this type of larger-than-life myth, the hero is put through a series of tests that give him the wisdom he needs to continue on his path. He learns the truths of the universe.
There is usually a refusal to go once he has been called on the adventure of life. Typically, he is in a place of comfort and security and he knows by moving outside of his comfort zone, there will be the void of the unknown. At least there is a nice little graphic that can help navigate the process.
The more we deny our purpose and ignore the call… the more we convince ourselves we want to live our lives according to our own plans, the more we suffer. Suffering can come in the form of bad relationships, illness, a desire to numb out, or distractions of any kind.
When we practice surrendering, we can observe how much we are clinging to our own ideals. We want to get closer to universal truth and further away from ego and mind-constructs. A practice that helps with this is Yin and Restorative yoga. The best pose I’ve found to notice how to surrender is Balasana, or Child’s Pose: Come to all fours, lower hips to heels, forehead comes to floor, hands move beside body, palms face up. As you breathe, notice the gripping within the muscles of the legs… the face… the shoulders. Practice letting go.
I, too, had a series of small strokes that left me with double vision and debilitating headaches. My left eye could no longer move and I had resigned myself to always rely on other people to take care of me – a huge feat for a person who craves solitude and independence. I was sad. I was depressed. I needed help taking myself to the bathroom. My life looked so much different than what I had dreamed of as a little girl.
To cheer me up, I was given art supplies because I had said in passing, “I always wanted to be an artist.” I never took lessons but I discovered how to play and tap into the rhythm of oil painting. It was the biggest gift I had been given – relief from the pain, joy from expression, and a love of color that still charms me today.
The creative process is what healed me back to my version of normal (notice I didn’t say “normal” but “my version of normal” because I am definitely a little off-center)… but this time, I had a mission – to live a creative life and teach others how to heal themselves through creative process.
My mind seeks connection in its isolation so I seek to find ways of joining things together. Yoga was the best medium I found for joining people to a deeper connection within and outside of themselves. My teachers always talked about energy in class. Though I understood its meaning in an abstract way, I couldn’t stop thinking about the E in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. I’ve re-imagined his theory to show how our lives and connection to source/spirit/universe can be enhanced through simple conscious breathing and movement as a meditation. I found conscious breathing is the single most beneficial thing we can do to enhance brain function, spiritual connection and overall wellness. So I need a platform to share this with more people.
I decided I wanted to give my own TED talk so I applied and was accepted to audition a 5 minute talk at TEDxSMU. I learned so much about myself, my expectations, my hopes, my dreams and my desire to communicate effectively. The stillness was palpable when the crowd was observing their senses.
This was an experience I will always treasure despite it being a horrible record of my public speaking skills. I couldn’t remember any of my jokes or any of the points I wanted to make. All in all, I sucked but at least I can say I did it.
I’m giving away free hugs to hundreds of yogis as I teach during One Love Dallas (I promise to shower and wear deodorant) but Lululemon is giving away some groovy schwag to the 108th person to register for One Love.
We will be doing 108 sun salutations for charity at the AT&T Performing Arts Center on April 28. Find out more!
What is Yin Yoga? It is a passive style of yoga designed to guide the practitioner into a state of bliss.
We increase parasympathetic nervous system tone by holding relaxing poses between 3 and 15 minutes each, allowing the muscles to stretch and the connective tissue to open.
This practice is perfect for anyone looking to relieve stress… yes, that means it is perfect for you. 🙂
What is faith?
My journey into answering this question started with the observation that for most of my life, I was living in fear. Fear of not being loved, fear of not being good enough, fear of not being pretty, fear of speaking my mind, fear of heights… the list goes on. So if I am living in fear, I need to understand how to turn the other way. What is the opposite of fear?
I sought counsel from one of my teachers who said, “There is a net beneath you. Let go. You will be caught.” I don’t know how much I believed her but I wanted to go straight into feeling my fear to see what is on the other side. I needed a goal to bring me face to face with fear, so I decided to conquer my fear of heights by flying on a circus trapeze.
I stood there at the bottom of the rig, analyzing every detail of how this whole thing could go wrong. The ladder could break. The net could be poorly attached to the bars and I could fall to my death. The person catching me could drop me, sending me head-first into a tree (I have flown from a trampoline head-first into a tree so this one wasn’t so irrational). Just thinking about the experience is making my palms sweat. I climbed 32 feet up this wobbly ladder onto a platform, and as I held the bar, ready to jump off the ledge, I realized I have to have faith in order to jump. Faith that everyone who put the rig together did it properly…. faith that my trapeze partner will catch me. Then I looked down and saw the net. Funny how life works.
I flew through the air and when I landed safely in the net, I exhaled and thought of all the agony I put myself through by listening to my fear.
What fears am I listening to in my life? I wanted to share my passion for yoga but I was afraid I wasn’t good enough to be a teacher. When I got home from the trapeze experience, I signed up for a yoga teacher training program. If I had not acknowledged my fear, I never would have had the faith in myself to sign up for the training.
Faith is mysterious and sometimes ellusive. Faith is knowing there is a net. Faith is knowing we are exactly where we need to be.
Are you ready to jump?