Loving What is: How Yoga Works
I can recall in luminous detail the moment I fell in love with life - and discovered how yoga works. It was a cold, wet Monday evening in October, one of those San Francisco Bay Area days of half-hearted drizzle that perfectly mirrored my emotional world. I was in a hot yoga class, hoping that the heat would take away the chill I felt deep within me. Grief sat heavily on body and my heart after the recent ending of a 13 year marriage. I was worried about money, worried about my career, worried about being alone and all the mistakes I made and might make, worried about doing it all completely wrong. My mind was cycling through memories, interspersed with my list of to-dos. I struggled from posture to posture, and it all felt so hard. I wanted to be anywhere else but there.
"Be here in This pose and This breath"
Then I heard something from my teacher he had been repeating in every class over the past months, a statement that finally pierced the layers of protection I had put around me to buffer me from my feelings of failure. As we stood in Mountain Pose after a vigorous set of postures, he said "Now, let those postures go. You did the best you could. That is your past. Be here in This pose and This breath." For the first time in my years of experimenting with yoga, my body came into the present moment, and with it came my mind.
I felt the sweat on my skin and the burn in my muscles from the previous poses. Not only could I hear my own breath, I could hear others breathing around me as well. From a place of curiosity instead of criticism, I looked directly into my eyes in the mirror. Instead of the shame I had been expecting, I saw compassion and gentleness. The voices that had been berating me began to soften, along with my defenses. In this perfect stillness I could feel the collective experience of acceptance of the Now and just being, and my heart cracked open. Something was beginning to shift inside me.
The teacher then took us into Dancers Pose, and there I found Grace. As I entered the pose I ceased to look outside of me and looked inside at my Self, that already-perfect-now sacred center that needs no justification, forgiveness or fixing. In the presence of my Self, in that yoga pose that became my true yoga, the thought arose "Toi Lynn, you are perfect now, this moment is perfect now, and you never have to be something for anyone ever again." Energy shot up my body from my tailbone through the top of my head, and I could feel a pulsing of life in my core. In that moment I knew that I was not only "enough" but that I was, and always had been, divinely perfect. In the remembering, I woke up, fell in love with myself and with life as it is. I finally came home to myself.
Yoga Transformed Me
That yoga experience transformed me at all levels. My commitment to loving what is changed my body, changed my career, changed my relationships, changed the way I perceived myself and my world. It also changed my understanding of how yoga can work, both on and off the mat. Life is no longer a laborious struggle but a joyful adventure. I do not see pain as a signal of failure, but embrace all of my experiences as a part of the entire spectrum of a colorful life. This does not mean that life is easy. Pain is an inevitable part of life, but suffering is optional. I would much rather feel all of life then live a half life of numb existence.
In loving myself and in loving what is, I can fully live.