I started doing yoga about three years ago. I chose to practice at home, because I’d tried yoga a few times over the years, but I was uncomfortable at the studios I had tried. I didn’t feel like a yogi, I didn’t look like a yogi, and I didn’t want to pay to feel like I didn’t belong. Plus practicing at home allowed me to go slow, and learn right at the very beginning - with beginner videos. I learned what it means to sit tall - how to engage my core to support the natural curve of my spine. I learned how to breathe. Actually - I’m still learning how to breathe. Every. Day. I learn to breathe.
As my practice began to deepen, I was changing. I hadn’t even done any diving into the philosophy of yoga, and I could feel myself becoming.. Someone different. I didn’t know who that was, or really what was even happening, I just wanted to learn more. I thought about yoga teacher training, and did a bit of research. By research I mean I looked at the cost. Because we live in a world based in dollars, and I only have so many of them.
I couldn’t afford it, so I put it aside. I mean, I was disappointed but it wasn’t the end of the world.
It just wasn’t the right timing for me.
Over the next year, I continued to practice at home. During this particular year I started to spend time with people who were deep into a yogic lifestyle. I don’t mean yoga lifestyles of the Instagramed & influenced. I mean a deeper practice of self exploration & healing. I mean a place of humble authenticity, and continued growth. When you meet people who are living for themselves, don’t you just want to read the same books as they read, and practice the same rituals for yourself?
I did. That was new for me. So I let myself explore. That too was new for me.
I started to read about, and take in videos that were aimed at chakras. I started to practice Kundalini more often, with more intention. I could feel a difference in my self compassion. As in, I had some. I started doing a yoga video series or seven aimed at chakras. I still wasn’t sure how I felt about this 'witchy' bit of yoga, but I was sure that I was feeling different. Lighter. Brighter.
Anyway, this video series started at the Root Chakra (Muladhara), and moved up the system to the Sacral Chakra (Svadhisthana), Solar Plexus (Manipura), Heart (Anahata), throat (Vishuddha), Third Eye (Ajna), then Crown (Sahasrara). I planned to spend a week going through these classes.
That’s not actually how it went though. I did the first two classes, and loved them. I felt good & strong. I didn’t feel different or changed in any way, I just felt good. But then on the third day, I started the Manipura class and I can look back and say, that’s the day I changed. Almost halfway through the class, I started to cry. Without warning, I was full of anger and sadness and it had to come out RIGHT NOW. I sat in child’s pose sobbing while the video continued on. I was so wounded at that moment. I was hurt. I was angry. I was tired. And all I could do was let it all out. I don’t know how long I sat there crying, but slowly the tears started to draw back, and I rejoined the video for the remainder of the class. That Savasana was the deepest I’ve ever relaxed. My body released & revelled.
I couldn’t do the next video in the series the following day. Or the day after; or the day after that. Because I was so filled with anger & rage for the next week that I could barely function normally. I was basically a cactus, kicking and screaming, looking for someone to love and hug me. I felt like I was totally out of control of myself. Where did all this anger come from?
All this anger came from me. It had been building inside of me for so many years. It wasn’t until then that I realized I had never allowed myself to express, or truly feel anger. I’ve had heaps of reasons to be angry, but I was trained as a young girl not to express this emotion - or any negative emotion really. I had over the course of my life learned to just swallow my anger without expression or resolution. Here’s the thing with meditation - You start to look inward, and once you start to explore yourself, you can’t hide any more. And so all the anger from all my ages came flooding out in a way that was out of control, and jarring, and unsettling. Until it was completely drained out of me. And I could return to myself, lighter.
When I came back to me, I realized that I could no longer just sit in situations that were unjust. I could no longer allow the people who were clearly abusing my quiet tolerance. I was tired of my cycle of sacrificing my own happiness and self worth for the sake of agreeability. All this from a video on my laptop in the living room! Imagine what some deeper knowledge in a dedicated space could do.
I didn’t hear a call to take yoga teacher training. I felt a strong, two handed push on my back. And when I was pushed, I fell passed some invisible barricade to find myself on a path that was now so clear, but moments ago had been hidden. Great! I know the path I want to travel - Now what?
Figure out how the hell I was going to afford going to yoga school all summer.
After sitting on the PranaShanti webpage for probably half an hour, scrolling up and down with the mouse wheel, trying to solve my dollars problem, my mouse landed on a link that I hadn’t noticed before. It was for a scholarship position to teacher training for the summer. I don’t know how I didn’t see it before - but whatever I SEE IT NOW..
I filled out the application. I tried to answer all the questions as authentically me as I could. I felt like I was being a corn dog at a country fair when I talked about the path finally feeling free of debris. I worried about talking about how this felt like my adventure to walk, but that I couldn’t afford the bill that came with it. I read it over and over. And then I got the hell over myself and dropped it off at the centre.
CUE A MONTH OF DOUBT. I mean who the hell do I think I am to deserve a scholarship?
There is no way that anyone would give me a scholarship, plus there’s no way I’ll be given all the time off that I need, and this was a stupid idea anyway.
My hips are too tight to be a yoga teacher. Sometimes our brains aren’t the nicest.
Know what I learned about myself that month?!
Everytime I have a thought that feels embarrassing or causes social anxiety, I make a sound. I think to disrupt the thought. Sometimes it’s a Tina Belcher groan. Sometimes it’s as if I’m singing a tune - but there’s no rhythm and it’s just random tones. Like: boop bee doo boop.
Then one morning in May, I was working in the Artery and I got the message!
Congratulations on receiving the work exchange scholarship for the summer training at PranaShanti.
Holy shit - I cried.
I was worthy.
Fast forward to yoga teacher training:
You can take a 200 hour yoga teacher training in a variety of timelines. Some people choose a weekend a month for nine or so months, others choose to travel and do an intense 30 day training. Mine was spread over three months - over the summer. But I knew the very first day of the very first weekend, that this was going to be transformative because I walked home that first day, and touched every leaf that hung over my path. I stopped to look at gardens, and touched any plant or flower that seemed to want more attention. At home, I sat on the floor and played with the cats without a video playing in the background, and without my phone in my hand.
I played with the cats, and that’s all I did. I was present.
By the end of the first weekend, I knew with every part of myself that this was what I’ve always wanted. I was learning about my habits, my pattern behaviours, and the true size of my ego. I thought I was going to be learning about postures and anatomy, and I was - but I was also learning how to let go of who I thought I was, and embrace who I really am, and who I could be.
If you’re living your truth you’re growing, and this summer there was an emotional growth spurt. I’ve come to know that I’ve lived much of my life with a heart filled with fear. I was afraid of what others thought of me, afraid of my past, afraid of the future. Afraid of men, afraid of sex. I was afraid of speaking up, afraid to fail, and afraid to succeed. I didn’t know that I was afraid like this, I had just always been this way.
Or, for as long as I could remember anyway.
I came to this actualization about halfway through July, when I came to sit and write a Scary Things post - and fell short. I suddenly couldn’t write about something scary in my life. The experiences in my life weren’t eating away at me, keeping me small and dim. They still existed in my past, but in my present there is healing and there is stillness. In that moment, and then the moment after that, and even the one after that - I was unafraid.
I am unafraid.
This blog is not about Scary Things. In this blog I explore pattern behaviours, cultivate compassion for the past, learn to forgive.
I’m sharing the process of change because I know the reward for doing the work is immeasurable, and that gives me strength and courage.
And that makes me Bold and Unafraid.