Stan and I decided to return back to the US and I am continuing my yoga teaching journey here where it all began. Today I subbed at Easton Yoga and it was amazing to be back in the green room doing what I love. There are most definitely parts of leaving Switzerland that are really hard to say goodbye to – the people, the Moo cows, the chocolate & cheese, the rolling picturesque landscapes, the lake, the list could go on. And yet, there is also so much to be happily reunited with here – happy reunions with long time friends, fourth of July and summer holidays, having a yard where Higgens and Kira can roam free, the infinite different brands of nut butters and funky beers that line the aisles at the grocery store….again the list could go on. I feel blessed to have experienced both places and in my yoga journey, it also taught me so much about rooting and staying rooted when life changes, and the freedom that resides inside me when I let go of fear and step forward.
This month’s theme (which I do love themes) at EY is freedom and liberation. Kira and I have been living without our furniture for about two and half weeks now, some of that in Switzerland and then last week we arrived here. Coming back, I was sorting through some old pictures and books in our house and came across this book that was the inspiration for today’s class. I flipped open “Teaching Yoga” by Mark Stephens and the very first paragraph spoke so true to why I fell in love with yoga and how moving my body mindfully with the breath brings this freedom and peace inside that is nice to come back to. The paragraph reads:
“Yoga has been such an amazing teacher in my life. What was at first a “workout” and a challenge from a friend who thought it would “kick my butt” became a ritual that led me to a path of understanding more about myself. It guided me to honor my body and my soul in a way that I had never done before. I learned what it meant to listen to my movement in concert with my breath. It would bring up things that led me to become aware of myself at a profound level. Before yoga, I was always moving too fast and feeling pushed to achieve, reach a goal, and win (I was a downhill racer as a kid). Then came yoga, and I was led into a place where breath and movement informed me who I became everyday. It was not a physical movement that evoked self-judgement and criticism; to the contrary, it was a gentler lover of self. I learned through yoga asana that the body is a map to the soul and that my body speaks a language that is designed for me to hear and learn from. Everyone’s body and practice are different in the sense that the language that the body speaks is entirely different from one person to the next, but the template is the same.”
So I encouraged each student to take the next 90 minutes to learn about their unique template, and work to find their meaning of freedom in each pose and see how many different definitions of freedom they could find.
I have noticed in my own practice and in my life and in the many changes from cancer, to healing, to pregnancy, to motherhood, to living abroad, to career change, how my practice and my body shift all the time. So if I slow down and connect to the breath and stay present with each moment I notice that freedom comes in different forms. I encouraged the students that in some postures, they may struggle with finding the freedom to breathe. Especially with heart openers, this space can get clouded with grief and doubt and pain that cobwebs form. In others, they may feel completely at ease and free and want to stay in them for a while, they feel safe and at home. In others, they may feel like they want to find more freedom to explore or go deeper into a pose than they normally go or have ever gone before – example maybe someone is afraid to flip upside down but curious. Freeing yourself of the fear of possibly of potentially falling. And yet, in others, one may struggle to free themselves and give themselves the ability to come out of a pose when the breath becomes compromised. The ability to go gentler and do less. How often are we encouraged to “do less”? Often times, we “push through” which at times, can be necessary in life off the mat, but finding that love and that freedom and acceptance within thy self can be one of the most beautiful parts to completely loving ones self. It gives one the freedom to disregard their fear of judgment or not being good enough if Sally next to you is going deeper or looks more advanced. Because what truly matters on the journey to loving yourself is understanding your template and freeing the patterning of the past, so that you can live in the present. Breathe full. Live full. Be Free.