I saw a student out in public today. It always throws me for a moment when I see someone outside the studio, seeing them in “real life.” In our quick chat it came up that she’s been disenchanted with yoga lately. This is someone who has been known to say yoga is her religion, which of course I completely understand. Deep in the most internal cell in the marrow on my bones, I understand. But I could see it on her face, the confusion, frustration, and even a hint of sorrow.
Part of this practice is one of self-discovery. Last year, maybe longer, I was going through a phase where I thought “this sucks…all this uncovering, unshielding, digging into truth, who wants to face this junk.” I really thought I was better off living in my naivety and blinded to the truth of who I am and how I want to live. It was painful to feel my fear about breaking through the shields I used to fight through life from behind.
This practice puts you in the spotlight. You can prance and dance around the stage but the light chases you. It shadows you until you either slink back into the darkness, hoping nobody will notice, or decide to embrace the message. Step into the light, it coaxes you.
It is at these crossroads in the practice that we decide for ourselves how the rest of life devoted to our own truth will play out. When I think of all the times (yes, there have been several in the last 15+ years) I have fallen out of love with yoga, I look at each one as fondly as a relationship that didn’t work out, and that I am better and stronger to have lived through. Each time I come through, I leave something about the practice behind that was making my spirit heavy. It could be anything from elements of a style of yoga that didn’t feed me, a teacher, my own internal dialog to a pose that challenges me or simply the frequency in which I practice. Just like I don’t live anyone else’s dogma, I don’t live anyone else’s yoga.
When I can leave something behind, oh the beautiful truth that is ushered in is always worth the wait. My breakthrough, your breakthrough, could be to viscerally feel that there is so much more to this practice than what we do on the mat. Sure, on paper, in words, we know. But to feel the beauty that this practice is so much more than a handstand, so much more than a downward facing dog, so much more than savasana…that is a gift in itself, to feel without moving. Because in all truth, there might be a day when we can’t move, and stillness is all we have. Stillness, and our practice.
This is also when the practice becomes yours. Not mine, not your mentor’s, not the yogi’s next to you…yours. This is when you start to see that just like there is no one religion for all of us, there is no one yoga for all of us. The only yoga that is for all of us is the one in which we breathe, move and create a vibration that inspires people to move closer to truth. Everything else is for you to define.
This is also when you step away for a moment, and see your own self in all your unique glory. This is when you give gratitude to the group you are in for honoring you, carrying you when you needed it, and supporting you as you find your way. We are rooting for you. I am rooting for you. As my friend also with us on this path says…your soul is rooting for you.
Disenchanted friends, near or far, whether we know each other or not, stick with it. Know that in this place of struggle and confusion lives a gift. This is your chance to step into your own light and define what this practice looks like for you. It is quite an exciting time if we choose to see it as such.