Have you ever woken up at 4.30am to do the job of your dreams? And worked until 9pm that same day because of the way it ignites you?
In fact, I did it today.
Bleary eyed and focussed solely on caffeine, jarred by a cruel alarm, I rolled out of bed today in the pitch black darkness of a cold, late June morning. Wrapped in multiple layers and a haphazard layer of makeup, I drove the 45 minutes to Lululemon Karrinyup where I am their newest ambassador. The reason? The International Day of Yoga. I was teaching a 6.30am beat-laced flow, in honour of Surya – God of the sun, the deity behind Surya Namaskar, and the icon of the chant, the Gayatri Mantra.
As I drove down the highway in the darkness, praying that Surya would start to rise before I arrived (it didn’t), I thought about what yoga meant to me. I thought about the effect it had on me and, as a teacher, the effect I saw it have on others. I started to voice it out loud, forming what I thought a Lululemon store room full of early morning yogi’s might expect from their teacher on this day of the year.
I stopped. My throat closed.
I stared into the long black road and the moths of the headlights. Was that a cold I was getting? I coughed and swallowed.
I started again and my voice jarred in my throat and tears crept into the rims of my eyes.
Was I getting emotional? Hell, I was.
Yoga is my world. How could I articulate that without turning into a right ol' mess?
As the class began, I looked down at everyone in childs pose and started to talk about what yoga had given me. With their faces pressed to the mat, they missed that I stumbled over my emotions, that I paused, took a fresh breath, and shook my head for composure. But then I began.
Yoga shows me that I am deeply flawed. And that my flaws define how I approach my life as well as my best attributes do. Yoga shows me that I am worthy of turning up to my mat every day, despite my flaws. It shows me what I can be, when I choose to “do the work”, as long as I keep showing up to myself with overalls on and rake in hand.
Yoga tells me that even when my breath is so tight I can’t inhale, the sweat seeps from my skin in panic, and the world feels like its sitting on my chest, that underneath the anxiety is a deep, cool, dark, safe, space within my belly, that expands to protect me with each deep inhale.
Yoga teaches me about relationships with people, and more importantly the relationships with my own mind. It teaches me that presence and stillness can be found in those tiny pauses within every pose as I flow through a series; the freeze frame of a balance posture, the concentration of an inversion, the dedication of a chaturanga.
Yoga gives me insight, duty, perseverance, poise, and conviction, because yoga gives me confidence. It makes my anxiety, panic disorder, and OCD manageable (and it helps my medication dose stay low). It makes me feel strong even if I’m the weakest in the class. It gives me crucial space at a time when I’m running two studios, 15 staff, raising a toddler (for the most part as a solo parent) and I’m teaching 16 classes a week. It makes me feel slow, when my world feels not only fast, but manic.
Yoga connects me, a high achieving but highly vulnerable introvert, to other people who FEEL LIKE ME. Who come to class because it’s often the only thing that keeps them going. Who come to class to find a sense of their true selves. Who come to class because cardio is yucky! Who come to class because it’s a safe space to explore not only the physicality of a mind/body practice, but explore a level of spirituality or mindfulness that works for them. Who come to class to meet people, just like me, who get them too.
On this day of Yoga, the ancient technique saving this modern yogi, one practice at a time - I cannot share my love for it in class without feeling emotional. I cannot write this piece with wiping wetness from my keyboard, back in the safety of my studio. And to the teachers that came before me, and the teachers who will come long after Im gone, and all the students who trust us in between, Happy International Day of Yoga.