My yoga journey truly began about seven years ago when a friend of mine bought a Groupon to an Ashtanga studio that she couldn’t use. She wasn’t able to get her money back, so instead, she gifted the 8 class pack to me. I had dabbled in yoga before, taken gym classes in college, went to one hot class with my mom (which at the time, I couldn’t stand!)- but I always felt that yoga was too slow and too boring. However, this time, something clicked.
I participated in my first teacher-training in 2016, began teaching immediately after and realized that I had found my passion. I completed my second training in March 2018, in Yoga & Ayurveda. I keep stepping on my mat, day after day, because of the continual opportunities to grow and learn about myself through practice. As both a teacher and a student, I discover something new every time I come to yoga.
Here are a few of the things that I constantly have to remind myself of in order to continue on that path of growth:
1. Yoga is not a competition.
I love competition- from organized sports to board games and everything in between.
When I first came to yoga, my ego told me that I “should” be able to do all the advanced postures that I saw other yogis in the room doing. That led to extreme frustration and feelings of unworthiness- I have a tendency to be quite hard on myself. I need to remind my students (and myself) that yoga is about the journey, not the destination. Practice santosha (contentment) and trust that wherever you are on your journey, you are in the right place.
2. “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday - unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”- Zen saying.
I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. One of the reasons I found yoga when I did was because I needed the calming effects so badly. Sometimes it’s so hard to get on the mat (or meditation cushion). I get it! We’re busy. We just want to watch that show. We have to get somewhere. But taking that simple, easy step- to take a few minutes out of each day to be still and observe the breath- makes all the difference.
3. Speak to yourself as you would speak to others.
On the mat, off the mat, everywhere. My friend said this to me last week and it
resonated so strongly. In the yoga community especially, we treat others with genuine kindness and respect but often forget to give ourselves the same consideration. Would you ever tell your friend she looked like sh*t in the morning? Or that she’s not worthy of a great career? When we repeat these negative statements over and over, we start to believe them. So , flip the script! Tell yourself what an intelligent mind and beautiful soul you have every day.
4. If you try to make everyone like you, no one will love you.
One of my mentors said this during my teacher training. She was referring to running a business, but this extends to all areas of life. I struggled a lot as a teacher, especially when I first began, with wanting to conform, wanting to fit my teaching into some broad idea of what I thought my students and studio managers wanted. Now, I strive to be true to myself. To teach from my heart and share what I know best. It’s still a struggle at times, but when we’re authentic and honest in what we do, we build genuine, lasting connections.
5. “It’s easier to put on a pair of shoes than to wrap the earth in leather.”- Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
I love this quote. And looking at these five pieces of advice, I realize they all have the same root: self-compassion. Yoga has taught me to love myself, and through that I’m able to love others more freely. It’s so simple, but it works. Start with yourself, and your love will ripple out through the world.