Rediscovering Why I Practice Yoga
It has been five weeks since finalizing of the sale of the Yoga studio and I feel like my practice is coming back. Those who do not teach Yoga may not fully understand what that means. Since February 16th, 2009, when I opened the studio, I have taught 4,746 yoga classes and approximately 4390 hours of Yoga Mastery, Anatomy, Teacher Training and Wellness Programs. While I enjoyed (and am grateful for) every minute and every student, I am equally grateful now for the rest and opportunity to turn inward for a time.
Over the eight years I owned the Yoga studio my practice had begun to serve two purposes. One was to reverse some of the physical effects of teaching on my own body (things like doing half of a posture while not warmed up, only doing one side of the posture, straining my neck as I observed students and demonstrated at the same time). The other was to prepare for classes. While practicing my thoughts would constantly turn to things like "How would I teach this posture to new students? How could I help experienced students find a new challenge in this posture? What are the subtle details of body alignment in each posture and what new and interesting transitions could I offer in a class?". This teaching voice continued in my head no matter where I was practicing or what sequence I would be doing. Yoga has been my private refuge I could turn to anytime for over 30 years and I had lost much of that with all of the teaching I was doing. I no longer felt renewed at the end of my own Yoga practice, in realizing that I knew it was time for a change.
For many months my
gut instinct was telling me loud and clear it was time to find something new. There were just as many months of procrastination before finding the courage to do something about it. I felt responsible for all of the students and their practice, for the teachers who were there week after week and a debt I felt to those who helped me get started. I knew I somehow had to let all of that go and put myself first - which, I have to admit, was initially terrifying. The last ten years of my life revolved around planning for, construction of and daily responsibilities of the business. I didn't know how I would feel with all of that gone and a blank slate in front of me again, but, I knew I needed to find out. I was beginning to feel so burned out that, honestly, I feared the Yoga 'spark' I discovered as a teenager was gone. Would I ever again feel the peace and simple joy during those moments alone in a Yoga pose?
I am relieved to find out that yes, I will. Slowly it is coming back. As I have told each new Yoga teacher in their trainings, let Yoga do the work. I just need to get out of the way and be still in those same postures I have done thousands of times, letting the gentle flow of the breath wash over me. The physical healing is happening and the inner peace (that is always there) is slowly surfacing. Rediscovering is even sweeter - this time I am more grateful and feel more awe for the wisdom of Yoga. Rather than thinking "I have to practice today" I find myself thinking again "I can't wait to practice today".