The 2 weeks with Med Flow Yoga were fulfilling, grueling, enlightening - filled with laughter and tears, growth and change.
I entered the 2 weeks with apprehension and fear. Would my back "hold up" to several hours of yoga practice only 4 months post lumbar fusion? Layered on top of that fear was the reality that my yoga practice is young, not experienced, and sporadic at best.
I truly wanted to learn more about yoga because of my intrigue pertaining to the 8 limbs of yoga and philosophy. Of course, as a physical therapist, I could see the benefit of learning more about the asana practice too. And certainly, on a personal level understood that physical embodiment of a daily practice would likely fortify much needed core strength after feeling depleted for so many years from injury and surgeries.
So, I forged ahead the first 2 weeks of August into the remaining hours of my yoga teacher training alongside 7 other amazing women who were exploring their own yoga journey, too. Through vocal practice, affirmation, and group encouragement, I found strength and safety on my yoga mat. During those 2 weeks I endured a few of the most challenging days I’ve had in a while. I grappled with physical inability and sense of inadequacy as some days poses like Revolved Half Moon or even simply Warrior II completely humbled me.
I made up all kinds of things in my head like, “Yeah if I was 20 years younger this would’ve been easy” or “I wish I’d been smart enough to practice yoga more consistently over the years like these ladies” and perhaps it would have been, but that’s beside the point. I chose to show up for self-care, self-love and challenge during the last 2 weeks of my 4th decade of life.
Perhaps the most profound day I had during the 2 weeks was the morning after I’d had a completely horrid day of practice. That morning’s practice was designed to be done completely and entirely with our eyes closed.
For the first time that morning, I didn’t feel shame in my body or in my practice as I knew that I couldn’t look at others on their mats and vice versa. I didn’t feel the embarrassment that I normally did as I tried to figure out a happy medium between a posture modification, and not wanting to give into a 45 minute child’s pose hold as I waited for something that felt more in integrity with my body.
As I moved through my morning practice, I gave up trying to keep up. I moved slowly, through the rhythms that my own body dictated and requested. I kept my own eyes on my own mat. I allowed myself to be present with just me. The feeling that my body responded with after that morning’s practice became an infinitely new source of fire within me.
The metaphor for keeping my eyes on my own mat became a strong placeholder in my heart. I learned to check in with my body and practice, move and then decide what I would teach based on the lessons my body taught me. This was so different than earlier in the course where I’d let my ego dictate a sequence on paper and then try to push it forwards into existence.
Coming back from my training, one of the most challenging things I am finding is keeping in alignment with keeping my eyes on my own mat, or better, keeping my eyes closed as I listen and lean into what my body and soul are truly craving. It’s a tough balance when you live in Southern California where the heart of our culture comes from keeping up at a pace that feels unmanageably fast.
I’m struggling to find that inner peace that I found in the peaceful jungles of a place that was once home for me - Nosara, Costa Rica.
I find myself struggling to keep a daily yoga practice because the community I crave in it doesn’t feel like it’s genuine inside of a corporate studio that is packed shoulder to shoulder for a 60-minute class.
I find myself drifting off to a place where I envision doing more yoga and less ‘keeping up’.
I fantasize about ditching my lease, selling my car, downsizing and living more simply.
I am finding difficulty motivating to start a new work contract just to pay bills and keep up.
It feels uncannily similar to the feeling I had when my grandmother gave me permission to rip out all the knitting I’d done on a scarf I’d started and said, “You’d be better to just start fresh”. I simply feel like I’m a little lost in our whirlwind culture and not quite sure if I’d be crazy to let go of all that I’ve ‘built’.
Yet I know that the 2 weeks I spent in the jungle training to learn more about yoga are 2 weeks that can’t be recreated, relived, or reproduced. I know that I did my best during the training to just had be in the moment and absorb the experience. Perhaps it’s because I know now that it’s possible to feel truly happy and joyful in my heart and head when I just slow down, close my eyes and keep my mind on my own body and movement.
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