I had a full day of yoga teacher training today, so I'm in a deep thoughts kind of place. Our focus was the Yoga Sutras, and it was a lovely reminder of the spiritual reasons we practice. The first several sutras explain how yoga works. Please allow a very brief summary: Yoga quiets the mind so we can recognize our true nature, joy. Otherwise, our minds identify with our ego, and we see only a distorted image of our true selves. So in a nutshell, our divine nature is obscured by our own personal baggage. We all remember the things said about us, or to us, as children, or even last week. We remember that time we got picked last in gym class, had a zit on picture day, or didn't get asked to the prom. We recognize ourselves as that smart girl, that pretty girl (those are the good ones), or, more likely, as the fat girl, the non-athletic girl, the girl who can't do anything right. This inner name-calling affects us unconsciously, and often prevents us from trying new things.
Yoga class is a place we can come to and be fully ourselves, as my teacher Silvia said today. We can focus on our own practice, be with our own breath, and forget all the labels and roles we hang onto so tightly in our lives. I came to yoga class early in treatment for a progressive illness. I had lived a year in fear that eventually I would not be able to physically care for my kids. I was starting to respond to treatments, and went into that yoga class after practicing for a few months on my own with some DVDs and books. At the end of class, the teacher asked us to bring our mats to the wall for (drum roll please) HANDSTAND. I don't have any idea why, but I had come to this class with an open mind and was ready to try. And I did it. Ok, for a few seconds with the wall holding me up, but it was fantastic. There began my love-affair with yoga.
Now I have classes where I don't think once about where I've come from (a non-athletic kid, an adult with a now well-controlled illness), and there are classes where I convince myself that I can't possibly do everything I've been asked to do, and never could dream of getting into that arm balance. But those days are fewer and farther between. I am shifting the paradigm, if you can tolerate that over-used phrase! I am strong and capable. I can cope with adversity. And so can you. No matter what baggage you're lugging along behind you!