YogiRunner Blog

Be Free to Run and Run to be Free! Namaste~

Archive for March, 2014

Becoming a “Real” Yogi

PigeonYoga continues to rise in popularity. When celebrities like Adam Levine and Robert Downy Jr. are gracing the covers of magazines in beautiful poses and toting the Mind/Body benefits of the practice, why wouldn’t we all jump in and give it a shot?

My journey was a little different. I toyed with Yoga off and on for many years. As an Exercise Physiology major, I had to learn about all activities and found some fascination in Yoga since it was such a far cry from what my usual high energy workouts entailed. It became my “go to” activity anytime there was a problem with my body. Kind of like prayer, for some people.

I hit a major roadblock a few years ago with my running. I had a serious knee injury and everyone from  my surgeon to my  physical therapist was telling me that I needed to quit running all together. They had varying ideas as to the origin of my knee problem, but the one common denominator was my tight hips. So, like I had always done – I turned to my rescue of Yoga. This time was different though. I actually began to enjoy it. The classes I was taking were at my local gym. The music was upbeat, and the classes were challenging. These classes were more closely matched to those high energy workouts I was always seeking.

I remember the swirling thoughts in my mind about what I needed to do to arrive as a real Yogi. The first and foremost to me at that time was to nail all the poses. Even if my body wasn’t ready, I was going to try to get into that Forearm Balance if it was the last thing I’d ever do! Ok, so I muscled through the poses. Now it was time to start looking the part. Perhaps a few headbands, maybe even a tattoo? Ok – check. Next, let me get this breath thing down. “Inhale as I rise, exhale as I fold – focus on the breath.” Ok, good. Now what? Well, if I’m going to be a real Yogi, I better venture out of the gym and go to studios. Isn’t that the big time? I’ll buy some Groupons and explore all of these high end studios and even hit up some of the huge venues like the Sedona Yoga Festival and Yoga Rocks the Parks. Yeah, now I even know some of the big “Yoga Locals.” And of course I must read all of the popular Yoga books like Autobiography of a Yogi and the Bhagavad Gita.

One final hump to tackle and then I will arrive –  TEACHER TRAINING! I will learn everything that I need to know about teaching this practice that I have now fallen in love with. After all, I spent 15 years teaching group fitness before – why not teach this?

So I did it. I dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s to become a real Yogi. It was all going as planned…..

Until I realized that none of that matters. Although every step of the way added flavor to my journey – none of them made me a real Yogi.

The fact is, this whole journey is simply a learning process. Along the way, I have continued to learn more about myself and about the world around me. I’ve learned about the things I need to work on within myself, and the things I have to offer to the world.

Any of the outward expressions I made along the way, were simply that – a statement to those around me that I was trying. And that is ok. But, I’m at a point in my journey where I realize that for me – it really is an inward process. One that teaches me about compassion, love, acceptance and understanding.

I wouldn’t change one thing about my journey as it was mine and mine alone. But as a current teacher of the practice, I do know this – whatever journey you take will be just as real and exactly what you need. Because in the end, it is not the poses, the clothes, going to studios or large events, who you know, what you portray or your outward expression at all. It is what you experience internally and the offering of the beautiful gifts you unfold to those around you.

“To smile more than we frown, to listen more than we talk, to show kindness more than frustration, acceptance more than judgment and love more than hate. To me, that is what it means to be a real Yogi and I can it do any place and any time.

In the meantime, I have found my place on the mat and am fortunate to be surrounded by beautiful souls everyday at the amazing gym I call home.

So I surrender to the journey. Namaste!


Suffocating in the Box

the boxSo at this moment, I just feel like writing. Being the introvert that I am, I often find that there is no better way to sort through thoughts and emotions than to write. So even if this is never read by another human being, it is my way to release, to express.

I dream vividly. Both literally and figuratively. When I sort through things, I often see them as “pictures”. Lately, I have been picturing a box. Not a pretty box, wrapped with ribbons and bows, but a small, constricting box that is trying to shrink me into its’ world.

On some level, this box has always been present in my dreams. No matter what I was taught  or told, I always imagined there was more to it (I still do). Kind of like that movie, Pleasantville with Reese Witherspoon and Toby McGuire……there has to be something more beyond the carved lines of our world.

Now in my 40’s, I trust myself to believe and think outside these teeny, tiny parameters I’ve always known.  I’ve never felt more free in my own skin! I was always so unsure of so many things, and I still am – but now I’m unsure with a wide open mind and spirit – accepting the idea that anything is possible.

So shouldn’t the dream of the box disappear? Now that I have removed it from my energy field, why is it still there? This is the question I’ve been pondering – the one keeping me up at night.

But just today, after some time in meditation – I realized that the box is trying to be forced upon me everywhere I turn! Swooping generalizations involving Yoga, religion, parenting, fashion, social circles, nutrition – you name it, the box is there. No matter where I turn, the box keeps trying to close me in and I feel like I’m externally suffocating!

So I take a deep breath, because this was the first thing I  learned to do on my journey outside of the box. I close my eyes and I pray. That’s right – this girl who does not go to church, who was raised Catholic, became a born again Christian, has researched and considered almost every religion in the book, and also has a mural of Buddha on her Yoga wall – prays all the time. I don’t need a formalized group to tell me how to have a relationship with God. I found it in a very real way on my journey outside the box.

After waiting to hear my answers (something I learned to do in the practice of meditation), I finally find compassion and a sense of peace. I realize that the box is drawn around me as a form of protection. Protection from the unknown, which is ultimately fear.

And then I find gratitude. Gratitude that I no longer live in this place of fear, because I have in fact, ventured outside the box. I fully accept and acknowledge that all things are possible and each and every one of us has the right to live inside, or outside the box. Because for some it provides safety, while for others it is nothing but suffocation.

And so, we are all different – and we all have the right to breathe. I just happen to be someone who needs lots of space and air to do it.