Aug 252014

What Yoga Means…To Me by Stephanie (Ally Ford Yoga Teacher Training Student, 2014)
5:30 am – BEEP BEEP BEEP…snooze…BEEP BEEP BEEP…wake up, mind racing…get ready for work, pack lunch, rush out the door…drive 30 minutes, apply makeup, drink coffee…get to work, sign in, run to classroom…listen to my coworkers complain, while I make sarcastically negative comments…hug a kid, listen to problems…throw them on my shoulders, carry them with me…bell rings, end of day, speed home…run inside, quickly change clothes…hurry out the door, drive to the gym, workout for 2 hours (hoping to clear my head)…6:30 pm – drive home, fix dinner, pour a glass of wine…BREATHE…reflect on the day, consider the poor decisions I made, all the problems I want to fix, my lack of hope in humanity…pour another glass of wine…write my “to-do” list for tomorrow, shower, crawl in bed…try to sleep…I swear my mind races in my dreams, if I get to sleep!

In a nutshell, this was my day…everyday, 9 months out of the year, for several years. That was me, stressed and lost; scared to look in the mirror because I was too tired and afraid to change. So what started out as an added exercise class to relieve anxiety and and eye twitch, quickly became my safe harbor from a brewing storm. I immediately saw results, the calming of my mind (and eye), though it was just for an hour every couple of days, it was enough to keep me going back.

Today, after several years, yoga is the eye of my hurricane…the center, my center. It is a practice that reminds me that there is time to breathe, and I am not referring to the involuntary act of breathing. There is a time to purposefully inhale and exhale deep, fulfilling breaths. While in this “center,” I am able to forgive my fellow man, and myself. Because I am not overwhelmed, struggling to survive, I can see the good in others and consider the positive role I want to play in the life of others, my life and (really) the world. Yoga reminds me of my strength…the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual strength that we all can so easily abandon in a “storm.” Put simply, it’s the natural balance of life. The calm after the storm affords me time to reflect on what I have survived, assess the damage, and make the appropriate repairs. Yoga encourages me to release myself to the process and let go of any resentment or animosity…it teaches me to appreciate the struggle and all of my mistakes. It reaffirms my respect in the belief that “the world is unfolding exactly as it should.” It’s the knowledge that another storm will inevitably follow, and I will enter it with more peace and strength than before.

The eye is control, and the awareness of what is within my control…my actions, my beliefs, and my perspective. It is my time to surrender all of the control that was never mine to take. Due to this clarity, I am able to focus on my intentions and listen to the guiding voice within me. I actively participate in the process of learning to trust myself and be more flexible. It is bending a little more than usual with all people and things that I encounter, including myself. Yoga is the stretching of all of my judgements and expectations because we are all recovering from something.

There is an acknowledgment we all have for anyone who has survived a life-threatening storm, but there is something to be said for anyone who can stare the storm in the face and admit their responsibility for its creation. It is indeed the perfect mixture of pleasure and pain.
Most importantly, it is a journey! A personal journey of acceptance, without judgment. A journey combining breath, balance, control, focus and flexibility to create an empowering strength. I can honestly say, it is the only journey I have ever embarked upon unknowing of the finish line…and I am okay with that. A journey of LOVE!

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