What lurks in the shadows

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED MAY 22, 2015

The deeper I get into my yoga practice, the more obvious it is that this path was waiting for me all along, I just refused to see it.

I used to be someone who thought yoga was too easy, too slow and too relaxed for me. Stand there in triangle pose and breathe and say OMMM? YOU MUST BE KIDDING.

I’m a go-getter. I’m a mile a minute ball of energy, and sitting in poses for several seconds was several seconds too many. “I don’t have the patience for yoga” came out of my mouth on more than one occasion. I don’t have the patience for yoga. I don’t have the patience. At the time I couldn’t see it, but this was the first clue that I needed yoga in my life more than anything else.

If you don’t have the patience to connect with yourself (arguably the most important thing we can do for ourselves), then Houston, we have a problem! And indeed, I did. I spent decades focusing on the wrong things: chasing men, substances, beauty tricks, even plastic surgery - all to fill a void that I couldn't put my finger on. All that did was take me further away from who I was at my core. Nothing could satiate the feeling that I wasn’t quite right in my own skin — but I did know for sure that I didn't have the patience for yoga.

That which we turn away from, we need the most.

And then I walked into a level 2/3 (advanced) class one day when I was too late for Cardio Kickboxing at the gym. Something in me changed during that class, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

A person who thrives on multitasking, being perpetually busy and accomplishing the seemingly impossible every day (you know who you are) is the type of person who, categorically, would greatly benefit from a yoga practice. However, most of us are too ego-driven to see it. Breathe and feel into my body for an hour? Sit with my emotions? You must be kidding! Ain’t nobody got time for that! The reality is though, that the busy-ness and all of our other excuses are bandaids that we strategically (and unconsciously) place on our lives to mask layers of emotional pain. The truth is that we will only heal and find peace when we dare to look at our stuff and work through it - not around it.

It is truly mind-boggling how much growth, development, peace and love we can cultivate when we take the time to stop, breathe and let go of all the superficial bandaids and “must-do’s” that we put on ourselves. Sadly, most of us will never stop long enough to experience it. My life has changed exponentially since I began to practice and study yoga. It started out purely as physical exercise (I had no desire to admit there was anything harmful about how I was living my life) and turned into a discovery of the inner workings of my mind and soul - something that might have taken another twenty years to begin.

If something's not working in your life and you find yourself constantly bogged down by negative self talk, overwhelmed with self-imposed obligations, stuck in negative patterns and feeling that you can't find anything that really makes you happy, consider that what you might need is to just pause. Breathe. Listen. Listen to your soul. It’s always speaking to you, telling you what you need, but we get so good at quieting or ignoring it that we forge on in our cycle of self-destruction, blind and unaware.

Yoga helps us carve out a little space for this voice to gradually get louder until we meet it and make friends with it. It gives us an awareness of what's really going on inside and the courage to rip off the bandaids and face ourselves head-on. Since the mind and body are so interconnected, the physical pratice helps focus our attention and effort on a single point (not falling over) and allows us to temporarily let go of the mental stuff that is robbing us of our peace. Eventually, we get a little better at letting go, at accepting ourselves and the way things are and find a little more happiness moment to moment.

Oh yea, and the new muscles you’ll build won’t hurt either :)