In preparation for my retreat to India, I have been studying and reflecting a lot on desire, action and dharma. I've been really inspired by Danielle LaPorte's book on desire and her famous inquiry:
"How do you want to feel?"
The possibilities are endless and yours for the choosing. It's an insightful exploration to consider and something that can truly edify and support our yoga practice. How do we want to feel in our yoga practice? And what actions -- what shifts in attitude, awareness, or physical adjustment do we need to make in order to align more fully with how we want to feel? Once we experience the liberation that comes with making choices in support of our core-desired feelings, we can take that practice into our daily lives. How do you want to feel? And if you felt this way... what would it look like? What would you be doing? Where would you be? What people, places and environments would be present? What or who wouldn't? It's a healthy inquiry, that when asked often, can help us recalibrate to what is serving our highest self. We can make choices and take inspired actions that help us to realign with who we are and what we want.
Often if we feel a certain way -- Unappreciated, Unheard, Disappointed, Sad, Afraid -- we can get bound to the feeling and "reality" that surrounds it. Binding ourselves to our feelings in this way can paralyze us and make us feel stuck -- as if experiencing that particular feeling was the only option.
The other night I had a dream that I was trying to get to a studio to teach a yoga class and my car broke down. Desperate to get there on time, my dream self stole another vehicle. As dream self was driving to the studio with the stolen vehicle, she became overwhelmed with fear, regret, guilt and desperation as she realized she would be going to jail for her decision. It was then, in that moment, that dream self came to the realization that she was dreaming. She didn't have to let the story unfold as it was. She didn't have to let the feelings overtake her. She could awaken and change the way the story went.
The Vedic tradition tells us something similar. Our experience of this life we are living is illusion, or what they would call, maya. Maya is the web of deception around ourselves that keeps us conveniently concealed from the truth of who we are. We are so involved in our process of becoming, in our own sense of separateness, that we imprison ourselves in our biased thoughts and perceptions, binding ourselves to the consequences of our actions and delaying our liberation. That is, unless, we awaken and realize we are dreaming.
We may not ever be able to know reality as it is, but we can acknowledge our illusion as illusion. And once we do that, once we set ourselves free from our perceived bondage to our feelings, we discover a sense of agency that can liberate us in that very moment. If we are feeling things we don't want to feel, we can choose differently. We can shift our awareness, perception, or attitude. We can walk away from destructive conversations or environments that don't serve us. We can make choices in both our internal and external environments that preserve our integrity and support the way we truly want to feel.
How do you want to feel?
As a result of my own personal inquiry of this question, I have made the decision to condense my teaching schedule. The past 3 years of running around teaching 12-15 classes a week (sometimes 20) has certainly been a blessing. I've taught in wonderful communities, met incredible people and had the opportunity to not only practice and refine my skills, but also discover who I am as a teacher and what I have to offer. However, it is a difficult and unrealistic pace to maintain for the long haul. I've decided rather than feeling scattered and stretched thin, I wanted to feel purposeful and integral.
Throughout these years, I have drawn closer to who I want to be as a teacher and what I want to share. We all have unique gifts and passions and it serves no one to run around trying to be everything to everyone. If you are looking for someone to break down how to get into handstand, I am not your teacher. And I can easily and happily refer you to several wonderful teachers who are. However, if you are looking for someone to offer a safe, nondiscriminatory space to explore and experience yourself, make empowered choices and connect more deeply with your capacity to love, breathe, suffer, give, enjoy, trust and believe -- consider me your guide.
This year and the years to come, it is my intention to spend the majority of my time with students going deeper. Digging, rooting, grounding, connecting, playing, unearthing, re-creating. Less classes. Less poses. More yoga. More workshops. More retreats. More time and space for inward focus. It is also my intention to trust my practice and be more faithful to the way that it makes me feel. Often on this journey, I have let comparison and yoga hearsay get the best of me, alienating me from my own practice and teaching abilities. This year I chose my voice, my truth, my experience. Because when it comes down to it, it's all I truly have and I cannot offer from any other space than my own.
This year I’ve got a new logo for the site and new mantra to live by: LESS POSING. MORE LIVING. It's a 4-word manifesto for those committed to a life beyond hiding, self-shaming, or chaining yourself to other’s expectations. Instead, choosing a life in which you show up fully, empower your personal expression and validate your own deepest experience. No more guilt-based deprivation, critical self-talk, or fear-based choices. Instead, more nurturance, exhilarating risk and authentic response. It’s a movement that stems from my own struggle to stand in my own despite my fear of what others may think, societal norms, and the sharp betrayal of my own inner critic. It’s a big movement but it’s important, healing and needed. And it’s a revolution I intend to take on. I hope you’ll join me.
More to come,