A couple months ago I began to feel disconnected, unfulfilled. Something was missing that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I looked into my job, my relationships, my family, etc. Then I finally looked into myself, where of course the answer lay. I was longing for something more. A deeper understanding of yoga and it all had to offer. Something beyond the surface stuff, where the meat of the philosophy lived. I considered taking several different teacher trainings to fill the void. But I knew deep down that I wasn’t looking to be a teacher, just a more dedicated student. After several false starts I found what I was looking for in Live.Breathe.Grow.’s Be Your Own Guru series.
I went into the experience looking for one thing and left a changed person, finding something quite different. As the workshop progressed, I discovered that the weekly meeting of spiritually-minded folks was half of what I had been craving. As a long ago abandoned Catholic, I was surprised to find that I was craving something to fill the space that religion had left in my life. While my spiritual practice has evolved over the years, it was a solo practice. Sharing and learning in a safe circle of women gave me that sense of connection I had been missing. After 10 years of practice I had begun to find community.
I also learned how little I knew about the true practice of yoga. I learned that instead of a limited definition, yoga is an all encompassing idea. Far beyond the physical asana, beyond the ego, beyond the business of yoga, lies something a bit more intangible, something mystical. The first half of the workshop I was riding high on the positive energy and the joy of learning something new. The other half I began to feel daunted and confused. My perceptions were getting a thorough shaking up, from all angles.
Coinciding with the workshop, several articles were released debunking yoga’s benefits, a long with a disturbing scandal that made me realize that I was not the only one who had misunderstood what yoga could be. I began to realize what it was not. It was not just another exercise routine like Pilates, it was not a competition despite Olympic rumors. It was more than a cute butt in designer clothes. And that to be a teacher of this age-old wisdom was a privilege not a right. Those sacred bearers of the truth have a challenging responsibility. It is not for the merely bored or privileged, especially in an age that churns out teacher training programs with little to no regulatory oversight. Do we want our teachers to be graduates from trainings that barely scratched the surface or practitioners who never stop learning?
And maybe some of the responsibility lies within each of us. Do we got to a class to act like sheep or do we go to connect with a deeper part of ourselves? A deeper practice need not mean the perfect chair pose, because in truth it does not exist. But it can mean something much more simple, and at the same time mind bogglingly complex. Instead of going outside ourselves, we can find our yoga within, we just need to awaken it.
Sometimes you wonder how much you really learn when you take a class. During the course itself you are brimming with information that you can barely keep inside, as it threatens to regurgitate on everyone you come in contact with. But what about when it’s over? Do we go back to our old selves untouched? My question was answered this week. I took two new classes, new teachers, new studio. I was asked to bend and twist myself in a myriad of ways. Instead of blindly following the class I listened for the first time to a different teacher, the one inside. I got strange looks and gentle remonstrations from teachers but I did not waver. I only smiled inside. Thanking the guru within.
Written while listening to Krishna Das – All One
Edited to add: This blog post expresses my personal opinion and does not reflect those of Live, Breathe, Grow.