Yoga saved my life. My life needed saving.
I’m not the first to say that. Nor will I be the last. Your life experience is surely as unique as you are. Perhaps as you read my story your heart may resonate with the chords yoga struck in my own heart. In that resonance listen for what yoga has done for you already. Ponder what gems may yet be uncovered.
My childhood had a dark core of brutality concealed in a cocoon of 60’s suburban normalcy. My adolescence was reactively self-destructive. My young adult years were charged with dissonance between who I knew I could be and the reality of how I was living my life. My mid-life years have been the hard work of repair and becoming the person I was meant to be.
My life has had many blessings.
During my childhood I was able to escape my toxic home and go into the woods, a narrow strip of virgin forest along a mile long section of a muddy river, populated by gigantic trees where alone, I could enter into the moment and be at peace, preserving my heart in innocence under the shade of centuries old oaks. I was blessed.
This is yoga — enter into the moment and be at peace in the refuge of the heart.
At age thirteen I had the good fortune to be taught yogic meditation in an ashram where I again sought peace. My initiation into meditation was one of the most mysterious experiences of my life. Sitting silently with my teacher I had a momentary yet timeless union with the vital energy of life itself — a swirling vortex of spiraling light. Then, just like that, I was sitting on the floor again and I was given a mantra to breathe up and down my spine. I was blessed.
When I do this type of yogic meditation I sense the same vital energy of the vortex inside me, stabilizing, nourishing and cleansing me of myself.
This is yoga — who you think you are is not what you actually are.
As a teen this knowledge tempered the raging inferno of my reactive emotions. I continued to struggle through my twenties. I graduated college but couldn’t find related work. I had drama soaked relationships. I drank recklessly. I lost my practice of yoga but not it’s remembrance.
In my early thirties post-traumatic stress disorder bore the fruits of childhood trauma. I lost everything: my career, my home, my health and my mind. I was diagnosed and institutionalized both literally and figuratively. I was hospitalized for three months. When I came out I became a mental health consumer. I had to surrender to this new identity if I wished to survive. My ptsd had me trapped in the past, paralyzed by fear. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t do. Losing my abilities, I no longer knew who I was.
Suffering both spiritual and physical pain I was driven back to practicing yoga. I took a class, did short practices at home and read The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice, by TKV Desikachar.* This book was a lifeline. It described the deeper practice of yoga as a means of moving from one place to another. I learned surrender to the truth of my past and where it had brought me and to ask, “Where am I now? Where do I want to go? What achievable step can I take?”
This process, done repeatedly empowered me to do for myself what no one else could do for me. Yoga gave me the tools to heal my mind and restore the innocent heart preserved in the woodlands of my childhood. I was blessed.
This is yoga — engage in self-study, practice and surrender to find yourself transformed.
In gratitude, I did what many have done before me. I dove deep into yoga’s well of wisdom. I studied, practiced and trained so that I could teach and ultimately become a yoga therapist.
I’ve been teaching yoga for 25 years now. I have a stable life. I have a loving life partnership and long term friends. My mind is whole. My heart is my own.
This is yoga — skillfully make meaning and purpose in your life.
These days as I look to the crazed and crumbling world around us, I have to admit I feel afraid for the future. The vast web of life is unraveling with the sixth mass extinction. Global climate change marks the dawn of the Anthropecene epoch. Yoga allows me to see these truths and not despair.
This is yoga — experience equanimity, steadiness in the face of extremes.
When life challenges us we can hunker down, push hard and just get through it. I see a lot of people doing precisely that these days. Yet in the thick of life we can choose to use our circumstances, whatever they are, as fuel to transform ourselves and the world around us. Yoga offers us the tools to do just that.
When I feel fear for the world I return to that spiraling vortex of life force. A spiritual evolution of the human species is required if we are to survive this catastrophe. I believe that I am being called to teach the inner path of yoga, as it were to plant acorns that will grow to mighty oaks that will overturn the boulders in the stone wall of separation between humanity from nature. My yoga practice links me to sustenance and keeps me doing the things that I can to help others and this world.
This is yoga — connect to your source, and find support for your true work in this world.
Last December I returned to visit the woods that had sheltered me as a child. All of the giant trees, some of them over 300 years old were dead. I wept and I said prayers of gratitude to their offspring. I straddled one mammoth oak still rotting slowly on the ground. I laid down with my face pressed upon it, with open eyes and experienced another mystery.
I saw the world as oak trees perceive it and once again experienced the spiraling force of life. This time I saw it as the trees’ own vision of a time when they will again grow healthy long lives. I was blessed.
This is yoga — yoga is the mystical inner experience of that which cannot be explained.
Since then I’ve been yearning to teach all that yoga truly is. I have started teaching on Sunday afternoons a special two hour class, TransformationalYoga, which focuses on inner yoga practices that end our sense of separation.
I have also decided that Breathing Time Yoga shall have its fourth yoga teacher training, with a special emphasis on the self-transformational tools of yoga.
The training will introduce you to all that yoga is and can be to you so that yoga may save your life too, and with it, a little bit of the world. And possibly, somehow mysteriously make the trees grow again to giants that shelter the hearts of all those who need their blessings of peace.
Breathing Time's Yoga Teacher Training
Change your life. Experience the transformative power of yoga. Deepen your personal practice. Study authentic teachings from the honored Viniyoga lineage in a comprehensive program that is accessible to a variety of learning styles. Our family friendly schedule will also allow you the time needed to integrate what you learn. Some may choose to take the program simply to deepen their practice, others to also become teachers. We have options for both. Program starts January 2017.
To learn more, click here.