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Ahimsa

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, I was incredibly hard on myself and those around me. And while I am far from perfect I keep choosing {over and over} to come back to kindness, for myself and others.

Non-violence, ahimsa, is at the center of yogic ideals. When we think of non-violence we often think of violence in our external environment. We may picture the extremes of hurting or injuring something outside of us, however the foundations of ahimsa always start within and how we treat ourselves.

Our ability to be non-violent with others is in direct relationship to how kindly and compasionately we approach ourselves and our own struggles in life. Through this compassionate process we are invited to examine ourselves deeply. When we hold this mirror up it’s easy to judge and criticize our actions from the past, it’s easy to punish, blame and beat ourselves up. Instead of deepening these patterns we can choose a new way of being.

When we choose to reflect and observe ourselves and our actions with tenderness and kindness we are making peace with ourselves, stepping towards a relationship of wholeness instead of deepening separation. This is not easy work. It takes constant examination, reflection and the choice to try on a new way of being, it’s a practice.

Photo by Kelly T Marie & Dirty South Yoga Fest

Letting Go

“Our journey is one of movement and continual change. Each threshold different, each letting go with its own character-every set of experiences bearing their own teachings. If transformation were as simple as weeding through your accumulated possessions, it would not be daunting. But meeting life is daunting. It is the letting go, not of books and outgrown clothing, but of a conditioned way of being that has grown immeasurably comfortable. At this threshold you ask yourself, do I really want this? Am I finally ready not to waste anymore time?”
Paula D’Arcy, Stars at Night

Yoga was my formal introduction into understanding myself better, little did I know at the time it would be the thing that saved my life.

For years and years I was showing up on my mat. Day after day I was stretching and exercising myself into a sweaty heap of emotional and physical exhaustion. In my head I thought I was a “good yogi”, I was getting stronger and becoming more flexible. I was able to make all the shapes in class but I had no idea that I was not really practicing true yoga. I would judge my own practice, getting upset if I lost my balance or needed to take a break. I would compare myself to those around me celebrating if I was “the best” in the class, feeling bad if I wasn’t. I would show up 25 minutes early to claim my spot in the room and get irritated if someone was in my spot. I was hard on myself and hard on those around me, both on and off the mat. On the outside I thought I looked like what a good yogi should look like, on the inside I was deeply struggling.

One day, when my life was falling in pieces all around me, I realized that none of the stories, criticism or judgements I was harboring was serving me, none of it was helpful. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be liberated from reacting to the world around me. I wanted to be free from all those things that were weighing me down. At that moment I wondered what would happen if I chose a new way of being? It was at that moment that I consciously decided to make a choice to let it all go.

I wish I could say it was easy to let go of those parts that were weighing me down. I wish I could say that once you make the choice to let go then you magically achieve some sort of enlightened state. For me the choice to let go was the first step toward happiness, I immediately began to see some changes but I still had a long journey ahead of me. It took time to reprogram my habits and patterns, it took time to explore new ways of responding to the world around me without falling back into patterns. And as I grow and change I am challenged in new ways, I take on new habits and patterns (some healthy and some not-so-much). I have new challenges that I must navigate in my personal life, in business and in all my relationships. To stay on the path of growth I must be compassionately aware of my tendencies and my messy and imperfect humanness, and at the same time I must keep a keen eye and steady focus on my inner world (and not be afraid of asking myself tough questions and calling myself out on my bullshit and stories). This is my sadhana, my most meaningful daily practice.

Photo on retreat by 2TPhoto

Photo by Ross Knight

You Get To Choose

How often do you stop and take a moment to witness the extraordinary beauty around you?
How often do you dull yourself to not make others feel bad?
How often do you just close your eyes and take a big, bold, beautiful breath?
How often do you play?
How often do you question what you think of as truth?
How often do you listen to that feeling in your gut, in your heart, or in your throat?
What if the answer was everyday?
YOU get to chose.

I Am Woman

I Am Woman and I am Imperfect

For months I knew I had a photo shoot scheduled with Robert Sturman ~ Artist/Photografía and as a single mother, small business owner, yoga teacher life was full. The months and weeks leading up to the shoot I was tired, overworked and I rarely had the time or desire to unroll my mat. When I had down time the last thing I needed was MORE effort, and striving. I just needed to CHILL. As the date of the shoot drew closer I knew I had a choice to make. I could starve myself of sustenance or I could show up imperfect, soft and accepting.

I am woman and I am imperfect.

I am learning that my appearance doesn’t define my worth. I sometimes carry extra pounds draped upon my yoga body like a second skin. Sometimes I embrace that weighty suit, an old friend with a lingering hug to keep me humbled. Sometimes I don’t.

I am learning to show up in my skin, with stretch marks like a trusty map of a long life lived. The faded patterns of love and miracle traverse across my once taut and trim belly.

Robert Sturman photographyI am learning to show up in life and be courageous. Mostly I want to climb in bed and pull the covers over my head, a frightened child still as a mouse, barely breathing for fear that I’ll be seen. Be still, don’t make a move and you can’t fail.

I am learning that failures and imperfections are inevitable when you are truly living. Stumbles and missteps disguised as an invitation to help you up, dust you off and send you back into the arena to keep fighting. (Perfection is the heavy shroud to keep people from truly seeing you there under the covers, still as a mouse).

I am learning to embrace my vulnerability. Living with an open heart is exhilarating, beautiful and joyful, yet it is also guaranteed to be painful and at times heart wrenching.

I am learning that being the best version of myself has nothing to do with perfecting a pose or even unrolling my mat. Instead it has to do with giving myself permission to fuck up, to fall down and to still show up day after day with my head held high.

When I boldly show up with my imperfections I allow you to do the same. Together, hand in hand we thrive; imperfect, messy and beautiful.