Saturday, June 29, 2013


What does it mean to practice yoga?  To me, its getting on the mat on a regular basis, sometimes repeating the same poses I've done a million times.  Other times its pushing my boundaries to try something new...even if it scares me.  The asana practice (in my opinion) is the easy part.  To practice yoga takes integrity, honesty and discipline.  The poses are a tool to teach me how to line up in my body.  I use the alignment to guide me to a version of each pose that feels both healthy and stable.

Stability - now that's a part of yoga that takes a lot of work.  Its easy to change with the wind.  "Go with the flow" so to speak and just see where life leads me. Honestly, that only works for so long.  Short term commitment is just that... short. I want the kind of yoga that is sustainable.  Its more challenging to commit. More specifically for me, to trust that those people around me will commit back when I give to my fullest capacity. It feels good to give.  It also feels awful to get burned. Using a pose as an example, take scorpion: I could sort of try to touch my feet to my head with fear in the back of my mind that the shape of the pose won't hold if I go for it.  I could use the wall to make sure I don't fall.  I could even use a friend to hold my hips so I can use my flexibility without much strength and let someone else do most of the work. Or, I can commit to the pose in the middle of the room and take my feet so far beyond my head that if I don't maintain steadiness and strength, I would topple right over. The last option is definitely my preference and my method, even though that clearly takes more work and a lot more time. The pose was designed to challenge strength, flexibility and fear.  When I commit so fully that my feet do touch my head, it actually feels safe.  There is a connection, a bond even.  That strong bond won't create itself, nor will I experience that connection unless I do the work myself.

So where does this come in off my mat?  Everywhere.  Its the company I choose to keep.  Its the conversations I choose to have, and lately (more importantly) the conversations I choose not to entertain.  The yoga of discipline is my practice.  Over time, its becoming easier to decide what to do, but not so easy to decide what not to do.  Meaning, there are so many things I want to say. So many stories untold. So many questions I get from our community, that I choose to leave unanswered.  That is on purpose and it is not easy.  Some of my most joyous revelations on my mat were when my teachers wouldn't give me the answer. When they told me to just keep practicing.  And guess what... in regard to the poses, I have always figured it out.  Even if it took a really long time.

So now I take that off my mat.  It has translated to so many instances, especially in the last year.  My yoga is as much doing as it is not doing.  To be honest, not doing is way harder for me.  But, in the long run, my practice always prevails.  Meaning, to refrain from a harsh reaction is definitely more challenging, but with practice, someday will likely become more natural. I've witnessed some of my mentors do this with grace and what appears to be ease. The yoga of discipline is seeing something I like, something I want to copy and yet not claim it as my own.  My practice is to use that as inspiration over imitation. To make everything I call my own actually original. To be willing to work hard enough to create new ideas and great ones.  It is way easier to just pick up something someone else created and use it to my advantage. But deep inside, that wouldn't work because I would know its not mine to claim. My very smart friend and successful business owner, Jenifer Garcia, reminded me the other day, "Everything is easily copied, except hard work." This yoga stuff.. its not easy. Its not supposed to be.  If something is not serving my practice (or my life), its not worth it.  If it is serving and authentic, I'll work like hell until I figure it out.

As we've been saying for the last 5.5 years at Southtown Yoga, PRACTICE, please always practice. There are so many people willing to work hard in the STY community.  I feel blessed and privileged to be a part of it.  We keep great company around here.