There’s a thing that people do when they've been practicing yoga for a while and become teachers… they start to talk about their “yoga journey“. “My yoga journey began…“ I’ve shared mine here and a few other places, when asked. As we look back on different periods in our life - careers, relationships, geographic moves…we reflect on various journeys from point A to point B. A yoga practice is no different. Over time it really does become a journey, because it changes you. If it is anything but a mindless form of exercise, it changes you. And that is the intent of yoga. If you look at the Yoga Sutras - a 5th century guidebook of sorts recognized today as the foundational text of classical yoga philosophy - you will find a roadmap of self-study, how to treat others, how to treat ourselves. When the full breadth of yoga is practiced - asana (poses), pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation - one moves toward enlightenment. An updated goal for the 21st century: happiness, contentment, calm, peace.
17 years ago I stepped into a yoga class and was hooked by the pairing of physical intensity with breath. This was ashtanga yoga - characterized by steady physical exertion and breathing, at an almost meditative pace. I found it to be trance-like but hyper aware at the same time. A set series of poses, of which mastery was the goal. I was in my early 30's and could handle the strong physical intensity coupled with buckets of sweat. After a few years, however, I started to feel more depleted than invigorated. Injuries, pulls, even muscle tears, were common among practitioners. A natural evolution started to take place in me toward yoga for overall wellness. I gradually shifted to a less intense, hatha yoga practice. I found more space to breathe, to feel what was going on in my body in the moment, to be inquisitive and explore. This left me feeling invigorated and restored. As I stare down 50, I'm much more interested in feeling strong, balanced, and flexible. This is the yoga I practice and teach.
Does your life, exercise, or physical practice leave you depleted? I'd love for you to join me on the mat Tuesday mornings @9:30 for Gentle Vinyasa Yoga for your own slow revolution. Breathe, flow, hold, move mindfully. We will stretch, strengthen, and test our balance. And we will leave invigorated and feeling restored.