Week 8: Yoga Evolution

I love yoga. It’s got me through some rough times, it’s taught me a lot about myself and others, it’s made me more compassionate, patient and grounded. It’s made me strong and flexible. So when I couldn’t practice like I usually do over the past couple of weeks it kinda sucked.

As a yoga teacher I’m constantly talking about how the asana (the physical pose) is the least important part of the practice. I talk about how yoga isn’t about touching your toes or being able to pike up into a handstand. I repeat over and over that the most important elements of the practice are your breath, self-awareness, turning inward and being present. I’m constantly reminding students to keep their eyes on their own mats and not to compare their practice to others.

Ha! This is all very good and well when you are fit and able-bodied and don’t want to vomit in Downward-Facing Dog. Ha! This is all very well when you have a strong, graceful practice that (oh gosh, hate to say it but it’s true) you are proud of. Then bam! Suddenly your yoga future flashes before your eyes and all you see are regressing asanas and muscle atrophy. Then it becomes really hard to practice what you preach. It’s verging on impossible not attach, not get a bit depressed and a tad bit glum. I even lamented the fact that “now I was never going to master my handstand.” I even contemplated getting private lessons before I got too pregnant to focus on inversions. Yup.

Isn’t it all a freaking awesome lesson, a wake-up call and most awesomely a huge mirror reflecting my ego back at me.

Then on Saturday night my girlfriends, also yoga teachers talked about how my yoga practice is going to morph into something else now. The ever changing and super personal evolution of each individual’s own practice.  Yoga has got me through a divorce, a career change, starting a new company, moving apartments nine times in two years, a break-up and living in Los Angeles. The tools yoga has brought into my life enabled me to start this relationship with the beautiful man I’m now having a baby with.

Yoga is so much more than the asana. It’s a series of lessons or tools that you acquire and develop as your practice develops and your life evolves. I know I’m going to need these tools when I give birth. I know I’ve already used them through morning sickness and mood swings. I know I’ll have to breathe through a baby crying into the night and the lack of sleep. Yoga teaches you to move toward discomfort and surrender to it and to push your boundaries with compassion, grace and mindfulness.

Most of all I’m thankful for the gratitude a regular yoga practice has instilled in me. It’s also made me strive for a more honest, transparent and open life. My default mode is so different to what it was a few years ago, and that’s predominantly because of yoga. It’s cultivated an appreciation for everything and everyone around me. It’s also helped me see that it’s always the challenges we need to appreciate the most. It’s the difficult times that force us to grow and work towards becoming our best selves.

So for the next 9, 10, 11 months instead of whinging over what’s going on I’m going to appreciate my body and the evolution of my practice. I have a feeling that I’ll learn even more about yoga and become and even better teacher because of this.

All that aside, I estimate that I still have approximately two more months to master my handstand.