What does that mean? It means that I allow my yoga practice to serve my life, and not my life to serve my yoga practice.
Like all of you, I have a jam packed life. I have four kids, a husband I love, and a big hairy golden retriever. My main goal every day is to be a happy balanced person, who supports and encourages the people around me. In order to achieve that goal, I have to accept that every day is going to be different. Every day will have ups and downs. The only thing in my control is how I respond to the ebbs and flows of life.
Ashtanga yoga has given me the tools to cultivate acceptance in my spirit. I have always been a take charge, get it done sort of person. I am also a natural at self-judgment, at worrying about my weaknesses or shortcomings. When I combined having a big, busy family with my own need to be “perfect” and get everything done “right” – I was constantly battling my own thoughts and questioning myself. For me, “acceptance” does not mean just letting everything happen to me – acceptance means actively appreciating the situations I find myself in – and not allowing myself to fall into old patterns of negative thoughts. Through yoga, I practice actively accepting myself however I show up any given day. Some days I am rockin’ strong and other days I am exhausted and lost. I know that both states are temporary so the best thing I can do for myself is accept them as they are – breath and move through them and keep moving forward.
In addition to strength and flexibility – yoga gives me the space to find that inner peace. I was drawn to Ashtanga because once I learned the practice, I could do it anywhere, with any amount of time. It is the perfect householder form of yoga for that reason. My teacher, Larry Hobbs, instilled in me early on – it’s not how long you practice or how many postures you do – just come and do whatever you can do in the time you have available – and do it well. So if I only have 30 minutes – I will get on my mat, do sun salutes and the finishing series. If I have 2 hours – I will do everything I have been taught. Either way, I will put my best effort into each breath. Every day in my life is different so my practice will also have to be different.
I go into the studio whenever I can – to surround myself with our community and my teachers. I get in whatever I have time for – and I accept whatever that practice was that day. When I travel to my in-law’s log cabin in the summer, I go practice on the dock before everyone wakes up. When I take my kids on sports tournament weekends, I always take my mat and practice in my room or by the field. My family knows – I take my mat everywhere and I may very well be “that” person in the airport lounge. Some days my mat stays rolled up and I don’t get to it at all – and that’s OK too. There’s no judgment – only effort AND acceptance.
We talk about yogi sleep patterns and diet sometimes. Some yogis are vegans, some vegetarians, and some eat beef jerky right before class. Ashtangis often eat light meals early in the day so their stomachs are empty the next day for practice. Sometimes I can achieve that – and my practice always feels better when I do. But by nature of my erratic, full family life – sometimes I find myself up super late eating potato chips and ice cream. Life is meant to be lived – and enjoyed. My practice helps me find peace, self-acceptance, perspective and so much more. I try not to ever let lack of sleep, travel, injury, emotions, exhaustion, or even ice cream, keep me from practicing. But when I do – that’s OK too – because there is always tomorrow.
This photo is me practicing during my son’s baseball lesson. I have to keep one ear on the lesson so I can help him remember all of the awesome tips he learns from his teacher.