Life. Yoga. Joy.
Inspiring a life with smiles...™
In 6 weeks I will be heading off to the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health to study for my 200 hour yoga teacher certificate. Taking a month-long sabbatical from work, friends, family, and my normal life in general is a HUGE undertaking. Just ensuring that I have enough yoga clothes alone to be able to not have to wash laundry for at least a week is costly enough! (LOL) Seriously though, this trip is the first leg on a new path I am on in my life. So the question becomes, why yoga, why now?
A Life of Movement
When I was a little girl, I loved to dance. My grandfather taught me that I should carry myself like a ballerina with my head proud and tall. Someone gave me a video tape of the Alvin Ailey Dance Dancers and I watched it over and over, fascinated by the way the dancers used their bodies to express the music, their emotions, and the message of each piece. I would dance around the house to records, then cassettes - and later in college and life - CDs and iTunes. As a young adult, I gave myself the gift of dance lessons, and then took bellydancing - even performing for a short time at a restaurant in Los Angeles.
I don't remember exactly how I "found" yoga. Most likely I took a class at a gym. The "old" style I remember was rather competitive - which appealed to my younger fiercer self. But as I came back to the practice over the years, I found that what truly inspired me to keep practicing was that yoga was a form of dance. The asanas can be linked together to express what you body and soul and feel at that moment. A moving meditation, I found that I felt stronger and freer when I practice regularly. And just like my early dabbles with expressive movement, yoga allows me to be exactly where I need to be at any given moment - whether it is rocking out a challenging vinyasa flow to a fast paced playlist, or moving quietly and thoughtfully, exploring my emotions and the space around me. In my practice, I found a way to dance at any stage of my life in peace and harmony with my body's abilities, and my soul's needs. Such a gift is one I would love to share with others.
A Life of Health
I'm still figuring out exactly how this idea works, but somehow, when I am deeply involved in a regular practice I find that I make better decisions regarding self-care. I crave foods like fresh greens, ripe in season fruits, and feel a huge desire to cook nourishing vegan meals. After a regular practice, even when performing a more challenging series of postures, I feel energized and light. I attempt to meditate more, pay better attention to how I feel emotionally and physically, and make an effort to incorporate activities I love into my free time.
Perhaps my favorite part of yoga is not even the physical asana practice, it is the idea of "ahimsa" - a Sanskrit word loosely translated into the practice of nonviolence. However the deeper meaning of the word seems to encompass so much more. Yes, as a vegan I practice nonviolence towards animals in my diet, but that is not enough to say I am truly embracing the idea of ahimsa in my life. So the more I reflect on the term the more I realize that it means:
A Life of Service
So why am I going for my yoga teacher certification?
As many of my faithful peeps know, I used to be a high school Literature and Language Arts teacher. I loved working with my students, watching when they "got" something, sharing their excitement when they enjoyed an activity, and learning from their thoughts, writings, and observations. And although I stopped working in schools, I never stopped loving teaching. So being a yoga teacher gives me a way to still do the work I love, but in a setting which helps people to work on self-care, mindfulness, and physical health.
As a high school teacher, I was told that I was in a service oriented field. However the way that was explained to me, the job wasn't about me, it was about what I could do for my students. And while I think that the profession of teaching is still so remarkable, the idea of self-sacrifice never fully resonated with me. I lost my way and created a world for myself without balance. Life suddenly became about how I could best serve my students -with customized lesson plans, emails responded to quickly, a homemade website with all the resources posted in real time - yet somewhere along the way I forgot to take care of myself. Such a valuable lesson which I failed to learn, let alone teach to my students.
Within the yoga community there is also a conversation about the idea of service. Many wonderful yoga teachers are providing classes to disadvantaged populations, using yoga as a tool for transformation, using the principles of yoga to start conversations about bettering the world around them. Yet as I look at all the wonderful yogis doing these amazing services, I also notice that the conversation about service also includes the idea of self-care. And this is an idea that I absolutely love. Because if we do not take care of ourselves, how can we take care of others, or the world around us? When we are running on empty, how can we find something within us to give? And so I am excited to to find within the practice of yoga, a profession where I can be of service to others, and help them to see that taking care of themselves is an important part of a healthy service-oriented life.
A Life Lived in the Present
If you've stuck with me this far, you may still be wondering, "But why become a yoga teacher now, at this point in your life?"
I recently had a birthday and turned 39. Feeling incredibly reflective (see my blog post here) I now understand that there truly is no time like the present to do the things you love. If I wait for when I have "enough" money, time, space, to pursue the paths that make me happy, I might never get to do so. The truth is that this is NOT a perfect time to head off for a month long retreat. The SigO and I were just catching up financially from our cross country move (only to have me take up a costly venture), I do not have a month's worth of vacation time to take, and I have already changed careers several times in my life. But as my darling hubby, and dear friends, have reminded me when I have my moments of anxiety about this next step in my journey:
So stay tuned my darlings. I can't wait to share more as the time for my teacher training approaches...In the meantime, I am wishing each of you a life of joy and adventure...with smiles...
Samantha Eve, a