one yoga for the people

life lessons through getting bendy and salt-water fests.

Iceland was just a chip off the very top of a deep iceberg this past July. I went to the country of contradictions to explore  my roots and spend time on the mat. Reality: it was so much more. It was about connecting to a new community, to the people in the room and to our yoga practice through the elements. That brief experience was a catalyst for overdue reflection and is what sparked a phone call to register for another yoga experience - paralleled in 'why I'm going' intentions yet unmatched by any learning experience I've cannon-balled into to date. Yep, THAT big, that ripple-inducing. THAT good.

This time around it was Teacher Training with Ryan Leier at One Yoga for the People in Vancouver (no jet setting this time). With intentions of getting really good at handstands and discovering more about yoga philosophy, I was amazed to find how much I wound up learning from a most unexpected teacher - me. While I had some friends let me know the amount of reflection and 'you' work involved in the training process, I was brought me to my knees faster than you can say 'savasana'. Albeit an intense subject - facing your demons and all that business - the week was positively positive. Ultimately I walked away from the training feeling lighter, more mentally clear and with a sense of self that I haven't felt in ages. The waterworks were matched with laughter a'plenty and high quality dance parties at the end of some of the longest (read: sweatiest) days we worked through. The fun factor was high amidst the salt-water extravaganza.

Yes, my ability to feel my way into the poses increased as we explored the anatomy of a posture. And, while ten days sans vino plus gnarly two-to-three hour practices cleansed me on a physical level, I'm moreso keen to share the top three things that were greeting me head on as we navigated this yoga-wonderland.

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the  barriers within yourself that you have built against it." - Rumi

1. I have been on the search for love for a long time. what I haven't been doing in that process is searching for what I needed to do to love me first and to let any kind of love in. To be a giver is an altruistic role to play - until it's at the expense of one's health or happiness. Or until it's a deflection tactic from getting real with oneself and owning up to some serious work needing to be done. Time to bust down some barriers, Jess.

"Change leads to disappointment if it is not sustained. Transformation is sustained change, and it is achieved through practice." - B.K.S. Iyengar.

2. Out with a disposable outlook - in with a sustainable one. Most importantly - a sustainable lifestyle. One that incorporates time for work, play, people, relationships, growth, groceries, shopping and sipping wine. With people I love. Oh, and phone calls, too.

"Practice Courage. Grow Roots. Get High. Truth Is. We Are One." - One Yoga creed.

3. I have alwasy connected to yoga for the physical benefits of the practice. Although it keeps me limber and tones me up, it's truly a tuning fork for my connection with myself and what I know to be true. What I learned this week is that yoga really is union - mind, body, self, others, higher beings. Whatever that means to each individual on their unique path.

More tales from the mat are to come....of this I am most positive. Oh, and keep your eyes out for this wandering yogi offering some commnity classes here and there as time wears on....

3 hours past my alarm clock - and the practice begins....

photo-2 turns out that diving into a routine that involves a 5:30am (ish) wakeup time, 6 to 7 days a week, on a Sunday morning following a late night closing out the biz might not be the best way to get something regular and sustainable rolling. yet i practiced on - albeit 3 hours past when my daily yoga practice was pitted to start.

sustainability took on a whole new meaning this saturday as i sat in a room of probably 50 yogis. less was the conversation about minimizing our impact on our environment, or about eating less meat and making a smaller and more sustainable world contribution, and moreso was the conversation about us - every single one of us - and what we do as our daily practice. outside of our 'routines' - get up, bathroom, put on coffee, shower, make smoothie, paper, hair, face, clothes, make lunch, roll out - the workshop was focused on a true daily yoga practice.  shudders down my spine as i learned that the next two hours was going to be exactly what i didnt think it was going to be (i wore my most moisture wicking stretchy pants in anticipation for what i thought was going to be a sweat-fest) - and that i would be sharing my every excuse about what draws me away from a daily commitment to myself.

a very sweet, very bearded ryan leier was our guide into contemplation and consideration. after spending two months in Pune, India with none other than BKS Iyengar (this dude has MAD skills - and the BEST eyebrows i've seen on anyone - ever) and moving through his daily routine and a very most intense yoga practice, ryan returned ready to share his take aways from his time with the master. the focal point: daily practice.

what i heard in our conversation:

  • it doesn't take much. it is and can be simple - for anyone and everyone. 3 postures a day. 12 to 17 minutes. done.
  • regularity and routine in how you commit to the practice creates flow and ease. (EVEN if you sleep past your alarm one day....or two)
  • it looks different for every single one of us. every. single. one of us.
  • yogis DO drink coffee (Iyengar takes his with sugar and a bit of milk - 2 cups a day. #truth #thankthejavagods)
  • as much as it is a practice, it's a process. and for all those achievers out there (yep, i'm with ya on this) - learning to be ok with it not looking 'perfect' might be one of the biggest lessons you'll experience.
  • you choose your practice. you choose your balance.

we talked about what postures we needed.  we talked about time of day to practice, breathing techniques, research and learning, meditation - the list goes on. what i couldn't move past was the concept of sustainable practice. my athletic pursuits have always been just that - pursuits. driving the bus to a rad destination, yet without an idea of what i'm going to do when i get there.  which, admittedly feels great - for a while. then, the pushing, sometimes forcing, feels to be too much. and i fall off the proverbial bandwagon. my shift? committing to what works - what feels right, in each moment, in each day i practice, and going with that. i've got this raging awareness about how hard i can make things - how little time i choose to afford myself, and how tough i can be on myself when i am in the pursuit of something. how NOT living in the moment is THAT?

i digress.

so, i will practice. daily. four postures. 23 minutes. and take each day and its' practice as it comes. whether that is at 5:30am when my alarm clock rouses me (yeesh), or if it is at 8:30am when i recover from a particularly deep slumber. i practice. and each day will be absolutely everything it needs to be.