On 8 November 2015 I celebrated the one year anniversary of the beginning of my yoga practice.
One year ago I was recovering from a major professional heartbreak, making it to the final round of the Presidential appointment process for two jobs I pulled out all the stops to attain, only to be in second place for both opportunities. This experience was another disappointment in my political odyssey, another near miss I tried not to get my hopes up for, fearing that this exact thing might happen.
To recover, I decided to write in my journal and visit art museums every day while considering next steps. During this period of reflection, my dear friend Tracy Nagelbush asked me to join her at a morning all-levels class at Yoga NoMa in Washington DC. I had read many yogic texts throughout my academic studies and personal reading, but as yet had not put any of that theory into practice.
Going to yoga seemed to fit in nicely with my new resolve to focus on introspection, reflection and self-improvement. So I decided to give it a try.
If you had told me one year ago that I would have an active yoga practice that would involve sometimes multiple classes per day (over 400 in the past year or so); or, that I would include my yoga mat as one of the first things in my suitcase for work or personal travel domestically/internationally; or, that I would actively search for yoga studios in said travels -- I would have given you a smirk, a side eye and probably laughed in your face. But I am living proof, you can teach an old (down) dog new tricks.
Yoga has taught me many things about my body, making me stronger and more flexible than I imagined. But the most important things yoga has taught me center around compassion, forgiveness, love and respect – of others and ultimately of myself. And while I surely appreciate what yoga has done for me physically (who wouldn’t want more toned arms, legs, shoulders, etc.), the strength and flexibility I have gained in my spirit is far more important. My yoga practice is a tool I use to battle with and slay my demons in an attempt to give rise to the better angels of my nature.
Yoga has informed my faith, helping me embrace the mystery of the unknown as an integral part of my story. Yoga has kept me from acting out of wrath when people have knowingly or unknowingly hurt me. Yoga has forced me to confront and release deep seated pain that I was unaware I still held onto, pain that clouded my ability to truly value or love myself or others. Yoga has taught me that true compassion begins with being kind to yourself.
Life is full of peaks and valleys. Sometimes you don’t get the job of your dreams. Or you do get the job of your dreams, but it takes on the qualities of a nightmare. Or a relationship that was once effortless gets extremely complicated – personal, professional or romantic. As my yoga teacherJack Cuneo said recently, “Things happen, good and bad, and yoga prepares you to handle it all.” Day by day, breath by breath. You keep moving through it, growing in the process, taking the lessons learned and shedding what no longer serves you. The past is gone and the future is neither promised nor here yet. We must make the most the present. Change right now. Love right now. Forgive now. Live now.
In this season of reflection and gratitude, I am thankful for this gift I have received and hope that by sharing my experience, others might benefit as well. I am thankful for the community and teachers at Yoga NoMa, especially Ariele Foster, Emily Star, Rob Beilfus and Julia Romano. This community provided a solid foundation for a nascent yogi, and I am forever grateful for their patience, love, support and nurturing spirit. I’m also thankful to my friends and teachers at Kindness Yoga in Denver, CO; the Best Academy in Joinville, Santa Catarina, Brazil; Nirvana Yoga Studios in Atlanta, GA; Blue Sky Yoga in Las Vegas, NV; sunrise yoga sessions in Bethany Beach, DE;Center of Gravity Yoga and Pilates in Lexington, VA; Wanderlust Yoga Austin in Austin, TX; Yoga Karma and Southwest Yoga Loft in San Antonio, TX; Jeca Yoga, LLC in Manchester, NH; and, 3 Bridges Yoga in Portsmouth, NH. Thank you to others I have met along the way who have helped me grow and mature, not only in my practice, but also in my humanity.
Merry Christmas, Season's Greetings and Blessings/best wishes to you all.