Sh!t I Learned in YTT - Living my yoga off of my mat - aparigraha

     It never ceases to amaze me how at times, everything in the universe comes together to teach you a lesson.  The stars align, circumstances fall into place, and HOPEFULLY, you can put it all together, and learn.  I always learn best when I experience something first hand.  I have never been able to "take someone's word for it".

     One of the hardest of the yamas for me to practice in my life is definitely aparigraha.  I hate when things don't go my own way.  I feel sick to my stomach getting rid of things that I barely even use.  I hold onto feelings that I should have let go a long time ago.  None of it serves me well.  And it is something I have been trying to change for a while. 

       Because I live in such a busy, scatterbrained headspace, I require frequent meditation.  Out of any singular aspect of my yoga, missing a meditation is one that I would feel the effects of right away.  Missing an asana practice I can live with.  It definitely catches up with me, and I can't miss them continually without feeling like shit, but I can handle my life still.  Missing a meditation has a profound, immediate effect.  I forget even more then I already do.  I get even more flustered.  I get angry faster.  Even if I can only fit in a short meditation, it works wonders for my mental stability.

     Wednesday, last week, after finishing running errands, I had carved out some much needed meditation time for myself.  I stopped by my favourite new spot to meditate.  I rolled out my mat on a rock for a little comfort, I took my mala in hand, and I began a simple mantra meditation, "SO HUM".  Getting a little out of my comfort zone, I decided to do the meditation, out loud, in public.  I decided that the worst thing someone could think, is that I was crazy.  Which I kink of am, so, whatever.  I worked through my 108 mantras.  I had set a timer on my phone, so that at no point would I be distracted wondering about what time it was.  I could just focus on my mantra, knowing that I wouldn't run late, and not make it home to get the kids off the bus.  Only focus, breathe, and chant.

         Just as I was coming close to the end of my meditation, my phone rang.  I first thought it would be a telemarketer, and wasn't going to answer, but had a gut feeling that I should answer.  I did, and it was an awful phone calI. The man who had killed my best friend 14 years earlier had successfully appealed his parole hearing from a year ago, and was being granted a new hearing. It was enough to make me sick to my stomach.  I sat there, crying, trying to collect my thoughts.  Once I had composed myself as much as I could, a thought popped into my head.  "What an awful way to wreck a beautiful meditation."  I was overcome with anger.  I had set aside this time to take care of myself, and this phone call had undone all of my hard work.  Immediately my stomach was back in knots, as was my back, neck, shoulders.  Fuck. 

     I left, feeling deflated.  I had this idea of this picture perfect meditation, and it had been ruined by this news.  As I drove, I began to think.  By the time I got home, I had realized something important.  Maybe it wasn't that my meditation was ruined.  Maybe things hadworked themselves out so that I could receive this phone call in the best setting, at a time when I was feeling calm, at peace, and introspective.  Then I saw the bigger picture.  This phone call was about something that has long been a source of sadness, a source of pain, and also a source of hatred.  Maybe after all of these years, I should at least visit the thought of allowing these feelings to slip away.  I have been grasping onto these feelings for so long now, and maybe I need to work on aparigraha in the biggest things in my life.  Not just decluttering and giving up control.  It was the first time that it had ever occurred to me that it might be okay to move past this.  And it also occurred to me that moving past a situation doesn't mean that we concede that it was okay.  It only means that we no longer give it the power to keep bringing us down to our darkest places.  It means that we can experience peace.  We can let other people carry the weight of their own actions.  We don't have to carry that weight for them.

       The following day, I had my YTT training.  Our focus for the day...letting go.  Coincidence?  I will let you decide...

Living through the chaos, even when it hurts...

Sh!t I learned from my kids - The first time my daughter broke my heart....

     I knew for a while that things were bound to change soon enough.  My daughter is 10 going on 45, and has been fighting the system (read: me) since she was first able to talk.  Even thought she is opinionated, stubborn, and questions literally every single thing that comes out of my mouth, she is also very, very affectionate.  I soak up every single snuggle that I get.  I relish every kiss that she gives me, even in public still, even in front of her friends.  Last weekend, a first happened.  And it broke my damn heart.
     We had some errands to run.  Maddy needed some new running shoes for cross country, and to buy a birthday present for her bestie.  So we hit the mall, something we try to do as little as possible.  We (read : I) loathe the mall.   We hate the big chain stores.  We hate the crowds of people.  But we love the convenience when you have a small window of time, and multiple things to buy.  We had quite effortlessly, much to my surprise, found and agreed upon a good pair of running shoes.  The girl is getting so much smarter in her old age, and wasn't so worried about the aesthetics of the shoe, and was looking for something comfortable.  We were on the same page, and I was elated.  We paid for the shoes, and popped in a couple of stores on the walk from where we had bought the shoes, to where we were headed for the present.  It was so nice to get to just talk to her.  When you have four kids constantly clamouring for your attention, it is a welcome change to be able to devote it to just one person.  The most incredible conversations happen in instances just like this one.  We smelled tea, looked at face cream, and just delighted in the lack of siblings that we generally have to cater to on outings similar to this one.  We had just left one shop, headed to our final destination, clasping hands, the crooks of our elbows supporting our purchases in brightly coloured bags, when it happened...

     Maddy dropped my hand at lightening speed, took a step away from me, and waved to a friend.

     Heart broken.  Instantly.

     I knew that it would happen some day.  That she would go through a phase in her teens where she pushed away from me, just like generations of kids before her had done.  I knew that I had done the same thing to my mom once upon a time, but I just had no idea how horrible it would feel.

     I stopped in front of the store we were headed to, and turned to face her.  "Did you just let go of my hand because you saw your friend?"  She came back with a quick answer, but stumbled over her words just a little bit in the delivery.  "Oh, no, that isn't what I was doing.  I just, um, I wasn't sure what hand I wanted to wave to her with.  So I needed both of my hands."

     And that was that.  I smiled and said it was fine.  I laughed and told her that she was a horrible liar.  We finished our shopping, and headed back to the cave of chaos that we call a home.  I will never mention it again.  Because even thought it hurt, she didn't do anything wrong.  Kids grow up.  That is just a fact.  Parents grow up maybe a little slower than their kids do, holding onto the present, painfully aware of how fast years start to fly past you as an adult.  So when she is feeling comfortable to hold my hand again, she can.  When she is feeling to "big" to hold hands, that is okay too.  I know that one day, probably the day after she moves out of my house, she will want to be with her mommy again every chance she can.  Just like I did way back when.

Smiling through the chaos, sometimes with a tear in my eye,

Sh!t I learned in YTT - Why I want to be a yoga teacher

     This week, part of the homework in YTT was to write about why I want to be a yoga teacher.  That is a pretty loaded question.  Sometimes, the simple act of answering a question gives you insight that you didn't even realize you had.  Here is my answer...

Why I want to be a Yoga Teacher

     For years, since I was just thirteen, I have lived a life where yoga has played a large role.  Grade eight was the year that I first discovered yoga, and started practicing.  It was also the year that I first attempted suicide. I spent the next ten years in and out of hospitals, on and off of different medications, on and off of living my life.  Counseling was a joke.  The medications had insane side effects.  Nothing was helpful.  Except for my yoga.  I read books on it.  I learned cleansing.  I had a somewhat consistent asana practice.  I tried to follow the eight-limbed path in my everyday life, to an extent.  It wasn’t something that I ever did 100%.

     I started researching teacher training when I was about twenty, because I always felt like I needed yoga to be more central in my life.  I would spend hours looking into different schools.  But I never felt ready.  I always felt like I was a hot mess of a person, and didn’t think that it would be fair for me to try and teach others how to become grounded, to feel at peace, to try and attain enlightenment when everyday was such a struggle for me. 

     After I had my first daughter, I started to feel more alive.  I started to feel every day how beautiful and absolutely miraculous life was.  I began to be endlessly thankful that I had survived all of my years of sadness.  I began to look forward to the future.  And again, I looked into teacher training.  I didn’t feel ready.  I was so busy being a mom, being a wife, trying to make a living, that I didn’t see how I could fit the training into my schedule.  I still read about yoga, I still had a home practice.  I didn’t think I could do more than this.

     My home practice and home study continued right through all of my four pregnancies.  However, after the birth of our last little blessing, I just lost myself.  I was so busy taking care of everyone else, that I stopped being a priority.  I didn’t make time to treat myself with any of the love that I showered on everyone else.  And over time, I just became so much less.  Less of a mother, less of a friend, less of a wife, less of a women, less of a human.  I became a shell of a person.  I was running on autopilot.  Even though the love for my family was boundless, I had no zeal for life remaining.

     And then one day everything changed.  I came to the studio for a yoga class.  Walking through the threshold, I felt like I was coming home.  I spent the entire class biting the inside of my cheeks, trying not to cry.  I wasn’t sad.  I was overcome with joy.  Inspiration.  Love.  Purpose.  Even thought my schedule was still busy, I started carving out time for myself.  I made it to as many classes at the studio as I could, and I began practicing at home again.  Sometimes I practiced alone, sometimes we practiced as a family.  I felt alive again.  I felt like I mattered again.  I felt like I needed this every day to keep my life balanced.  And I felt like I was ready for teacher training. 

     I started researching teacher training again.  And then, teacher training found me.  At the studio I practiced at.  At the studio I loved.  I knew it was time, that it was meant to be at this point in my life, that I was finally ready. 

     Throughout the training so far, I have struggled to see myself as a teacher.  Not because I have a lack of love for yoga.  Not because I feel like I have a lack of knowledge.  It is because I still sometimes feel like the incomplete, unsure girl that I was growing up.  That is why I will always need yoga to be at the center of my day.  And, that is what I have to share as a teacher.  I want to be a teacher to help others feel that liberation that comes with peeling away layers of things that don’t serve us.  Shedding layers that are not the true us, layers that grew from others projections of who we are, or our own projections of who we want to be. 

     The reason I decided to share this with you, instead of merely handing it in to my teacher, is because I believe with my whole heart that yoga can help to heal us, from the inside out. I am definitely not suggesting that you run to a studio or an ashram instead of seeking medical advice. I am merely suggesting that yoga, at the bear minimum can add so much to a treatment plan. There are so many options for us when starting (or re-starting) a practice. We can practice in a studio, either in a group setting or a private one, or we can practice from our own home. Preferably we do both. Finding a teacher that can offer both spiritual, emotional and physical support for your practice can be life changing. If one studio doesn't work for you, there might be another one that is incredible. Within any given studio, there might be many different teachers that each offer you support in a different way. I wish you love and light on your own journey, weather you are already well established, or just starting off. Namaste.