I'm not going to lie, this winter has been a doozie. Anybody else? I'm not here to complain, though. I'm actually feeling pretty dang strong. I am smack dab in the middle of the challenging and difficult process of letting go of relationships that are unhealthy, and transitioning into a space where I am honoring what's best for my heart so that I can give it back tenfold. And in the midst of it all, I come back to yoga. Not just yoga as in get on my mat and move, but deeper than that. I've been doing a lot of reflection on what this practice means to me, and what I aim to share as a teacher/guide in a market that is filled with mixed messages and opinions.
In our culture, yoga has been turned into a massive enterprise and multi-million dollar industry. We have clothing companies telling us what to wear and how to look in what we wear, we have Instagram telling us what poses we should be able to do, and we have mat, towel and accessory companies telling us what props we need to be "cool" and what kind of lifestyle is "necessary" to be a yogi. We see ads for Mala Beads and essential oils used by attractive 20-somethings in beautiful destinations. Don't get me wrong, in 2018, I think yoga-related companies have their place, and those of us who give our time to teaching yoga or providing yoga accessories/clothes/etc. to others need to make a profit. I'm a business person too, and I get it. But here's the thing:
You are not a yogi based off of what clothes you wear. You are not a yogi based off of what mat you use or whether your mat is brand new or 10 years old. You are not a yogi based off of what studio you practice at, or if you practice at a studio at all. You're certainly not a yogi based off of your number of followers on social media, or whether you even have an Instagram page. I don't care if you can do a handstand or touch your toes. It doesn't matter how you look, what color your skin is, or how old you are.
If you find yourself concerned about what your yoga looks like, it's time to dive deeper into the practice.
And this is your doorway in. I'm not here to tell you what to do or how or where or when. But I do strive to encourage you to find your practice within yourself - not in an Instagram page, not in an Alo magazine. You're not a yogi because of those things. You're a yogi based off of your heart, your intention, your love. Are you willing to step into the fire of growth and let your heart break open? Are you willing to mess up, to make it right and to move forward? Can you do it all with a kind heart, and when you don't, can you own it and make it right?
This is where the ethics of yoga come in, or the yamas + niyamas. These include:
saucha (clarity, purity)
ishvara pranidhana (surrender)
It is my intention to spend the summer diving deep into these with you guys. And I want to clarify that I love a good handstand. It's okay to want to achieve crazy poses (if that's healthy for your body!) but at the end of the day, these ethics are the roots. This is where our true growth lies. This is yoga.