Energy. Breathe. Teacher/Student. Love! Yoga…or My week on vacation, August 2014

“We are moving energy in our Yoga practice. That is what we are doing. Who are you now…and now… and now?”

These are the words of my teacher, or as she is known in my head “the teacher I will be when I grow up/get to be really good/understand things”. Have you ever found something you didn’t know you were looking for? Have you ever drooled over the sound of someone’s words, the richness of their message and the truth of their teaching when all you thought you wanted was a good yoga class while away on a tiny island? Welcome to my week on vacation. All my time is normally spent in NYC teaching yoga (a lot), practicing yoga (not enough), sequencing classes, planning a second Costa Rica retreat (come!mdyogaretreat@gmail.com) reviewing procedure, learning protocol, embracing etiquette plus a half dozen more additional projects/presentations/my dissertation/blah blah blah…But none of that now. Now I am enjoying a lovely week long vacation. Here I am by myself, with some friends scattered around the island, some friends potentially coming, while there are people/children/my dog/my work that I really do love back in NYC. I am staying in a quaint country cottage. I have an adorable rental bike, complete with basket and broad handlebars. I keep emails from becoming an avalanche with my trusty iPhone…I have no internet service or TV-  I feel wonderful. 

It looks like this – morning jogs to the ocean and back, long and winding bike rides, sunny beach afternoons, glass of wine with dinner, a good book or text conversation and early to bed towards a satisfying night’s sleep – loving every minute. Mother Nature is so stunning! There is something about the expansive energy you feel in unfettered natural beauty – I feel so proud for experiencing my past, excited to be embracing my present, and thrilled about my future. And early on in this vacation, I found this incredible Yoga teacher, a woman so serene, so present, so inspiring, so wise and yet so humble, so incredibly exactly-what-I-love-in-a-teacher…that I honestly felt compelled to write about this experience before its even over. I have another 4 days here on vacation, which most likely will be much like the three days I have already had (read above). What is wonderful is that largely based on years of experience, I know an amazing yoga teacher right away.  I know good ones; I know not-great-for-me-ones, and I know outright bad ones…but amazing ones – those you don’t meet that often. This particular teacher is one of the great ones. She is as wonderful as they come. Her class speaks to me, allows me to breathe and move while she encourages me to explore my practice yet reign in my judgment and expand my breath in order to expand my sense of self, my understanding of this moment and allow forgiveness for imperfection.  All the while, I feel free to satisfy my quest for tranquility in the midst of continuous, glorious, hard earned sweat, deep breathing and honest work. And based on this sacred space I have come to find while in the multiple moments of transformation during these classes, I had some thoughts. I will share those now.

Energy is always available. Energy is here right now, and in a yoga practice we stir up energy that is already in the room, already in our bodies, and already within our breath. We can freely choose this energy. Sometimes this energy has a quality, and sometimes we can give it a quality that reflects how we feel, how we move, and how we see life. We can choose positive, loving energy. That is always available. You just have to choose it. We can choose shy, protective energy. That is sometimes useful. We can choose abundant, giving, generous energy. That is magical and very powerful. We can choose dramatic and explosive energy, but I prefer to use that sparingly –I am a Leo so it can be tough! We lions love to roar. The thing is, we are choosing all the time, and when we distill our actions, awareness and movement down to its elements and its form and its grace, we can freely choose. I would like to say that I always choose love…I wish. That would be to deny my fears, my doubts, my insecurities and my tendency to want from others what I need from them – rather than understanding that they are giving me whatever it is that they have. But this is honesty. Most of the time, I choose love. I choose happiness, abundance and sharing energy. Occasionally I retreat with some shyness, some protection, some walls around me to keep out the perceived threats…but mostly…I choose love. Or at least, I really want to! It is work to keep ones heart open sometimes.

I forgive myself. I forgive myself for my mistakes, because honestly, while they were happening, it always seemed like I was making the right decision at that moment based on what was unfolding. And because I forgive myself, I forgive others. Everything that follows applies to me and everyone else – that is what Yoga teaches us, that there is union, rather than separation.  I forgive myself for hurting others, because I know I never wanted to hurt anyone, but I did. I forgive myself for crowding others and spilling out my need for them to be what I wanted them to be, because that’s a human thing to do, and also sometimes it works. Sometimes people are so happy to fulfill our needs because it fulfills their needs. Sometimes it’s not an actual person but a job, a career, a project; a relationship to anything that we think might give us what we are looking for. We forget that we already have everything we need, that the kingdom of heaven is in the heart.

So I forgive myself. In matters of love, family, friendships and romance past and present, I forgive myself for wanting people/my job/relationship/career/friends to be someone or something other than who or what they truly are.  Sometimes we get stuck in a fantasy of a smoothed out melodic symphony instead of…reality. 

Love is not about getting it perfect. Love is perfect. Love is about knowing that it’s ok. Love between people is complicated. Family love, romantic love, complicated! You don’t have to be twins or read each other’s minds or get it right, or even talk all the time to know that it’s still ok.  Love is not there to tell you how great and wonderful you are, or how unfair the world is. Sometimes Love does not even show up every single time. Love is there for us to remind ourselves that to give is to receive, and trust and faith are always the cornerstones to anything with potential for greatness.

I am going to try to honor all the yoga teachers that have truly changed my practice…Perry (my first!), Jojo (my second!), Cassandra, Yogeswari, Jai, Derek, Shana, Scott, Shannah, Gloria, Evan…For me, in the space of a yoga practice with an incredible teacher, that is where I have found the essence and majesty of growth, renewal, insight and the pearl of love.

Find some space. Then breathe. Remember it’s ok.

“Our whole business, therefore in this life, is to restore health to the eye of the heart whereby God may be seen”. Saint Augustine.