Personal Explorations on Living Fully as a Modern Day Yogi
As seen in Elephant Journal 1/2014
When is a yogi “real” or “true”?
I am a yoga teacher, and I feel blessings in my bones, see magic before my eyes, smile a lot; I also struggle with comparisons, am unable to keep a Kombucha mother alive for long in my refrigerator, and I say fuck a lot. My passion is to offer experiential practices of embodiment, and create a container for people to soften into their edges. Yet there are times I go home and my own edges feel like way too much. Ironic that I study and teach about lessening the reactivity to intense energy, yet when it arises for me I still grasp for ways to make it all different. One sweet asana practice, a gathering with women in ritual, or a superfood smoothie can change everything, and again I have access to my beauty, my badass, magical, cosmic, unique self. That part of me that feels so together can hang out for a good long while, and then she slips away and I wonder what happened. It is at those times that I abandon myself and bake a poor-me cake with a harsh serving of “what kind of yogi are you really?” I use medicinal oils and prayers and food as medicine, but can then toxify my cells with doubts and insecurities. This makes for a juicy living workshop of staying with a practice of flow, and tending to it with commitment.
I chose a yogic path, and am once again asking myself about that choice, and how it really applies to the whole of my life. If yoga is the yoking with our own divine humanness, and if it is the practice of deepening our intimacy with our holy mortal self, then isn’t a yogi’s practice an opportunity to settle into the integrity of our true nature rather than to perfect a script? Repetitively I have created a script.
I have fallen prey in my mind to the illusion that, to be a yogi, I must meet certain standards to live with happiness. I often demand that I must be able to meet these illusory standards in a relaxed manner, without attachment, without defense, without doubt, and always sipping coconut water. I am seeing more clearly that underlying these stipulations I desire to be worthy, to be good enough, to be loved. In moments of forgetting my inherent value as is, I have created a meaning of who a yogi is and this ideal version of a yogi is not accessible.
In my explorations for this truth, I ask myself, “Can I embrace all of my recent experiences as teachings of the life cycle gracefully; like my divorce, the death of two grandfathers in one season or the news that my ex-husband is having a baby with his new young partner? Am I supposed to always say thank-you for the opportunity to serve as I have the daily responsibility of caring for a child with severe disabilities?” Getting divorced is hard, even if it is okay! While my child is an exquisite gift, taking care of someone that is 100 percent dependent upon you is a wild journey. At times I have the desire to escape this kind of wild. Navigating big change and fierce commitment brings amazing growth but it also is like the tidal wave in my reoccurring dreams of younger years. And where there is love, and sweetness, I sometimes mine for the problems, and negate the goodies. What would that “real” yogi do with these personal explorations? What would she choose?
While I would prefer my first choice to always be love and bliss, apparently at times I still choose lack, shoulds or separation. At times, I use social media to measure my enoughness or think pimple eruptions at this age are a good stick to use against myself. While my place of balancing reminds me of my amazing capacities to sparkle with life, at other times I am my younger self and still want to be “picked” in order to feel that shine. How does a strong, flexible woman navigate her way through the world with a very modern day family and everyone’s needs, and desires? My story is beautiful. However, there are days it is more challenging and vulnerable to embody that beauty and be courageous. I am deepening my belief that vulnerability is a part of life, and a part of settling into that practice of divine humanness. The choice to return to forgiveness, true joy, and the amazing are also a part of a full life.
Holding myself accountable I am seeing that I resist what is perhaps a threshold for growth and expansion. I am noting how I can use my judgments of life’s inevitable messiness as a barometer to measure that false meaning of who a yogi is. With this awareness my commitment is to practice moving from the illusion into the truth of all of the abundant choices I can make to live more fully. However, this daily practice, like standing on my hands, is taking the time it needs to take. I believe that the practice of yoga is in support of a person being EXACTLY who they are.
Opening up to that support, I am connecting more deeply with my own person. I honor my own kind of feminine mystic who has the super powers to question, pause and soften while also acting with courage, creativity and compassion. I possess the ability to make choices that allow for pleasure, authenticity and ease. I am embracing each obstacle, each lesson, each tender transition as part of the treasures, and the magnitude of my powerful life. With the support of a practice that asks me to live fully, I am understanding that the times of fire and purification and the days of questioning and discomfort are no less worthy than the moments of total ease, confidence, and surrender. Each day, I am reminded that the path of yoga is not separate from my life. With earnest commitment, and faith this path has the power to uplift my beautiful modern day yogi self.