In yoga the word kula means family. you are my kula and this ones for you…
Just last week, a student, who has been coming to my classes from the beginning over 3-years ago, came up to me and said “I dont know if I’ll get a chance to see you again before you go, so I wanted to let you know how grateful I am for you, and I want to share with you why.” My hand immediatley drew to my heart, and she proceeded to share. I end every class with a quote that feels aligned with the rhythym of that days class. For a while I landed the end of class with this, by the magnificent Leonard Cohen:
“ring the bells that still can ring. forget your perfect offering. there is a crack in everything. that’s how the light gets in.”
Many of you have shared with me what those words mean to you. For this student, it meant hope at a time in which she was feeling not much hope or much of anything, describing her physical and spiritual state as numb.
The day she had come to the class I was subbing, she had recently found out that she miscarried at 16 weeks. It was to be she and her partners first child. She found her way to many of my classes in the months that followed, and she said that she knew that light was once again, coming in, and it was providing her a sense of peace. She told me on days she needed to hear it most, I always seemed to end class with that quote as I did just last week. That the art of physical asana set to the rhythym of spirit and release helped this amazing student reclaim the ground beneath her feet. Today she and her partner have 2-beautiful babies, and she inspires me so greatly. When she shared with me her own experience, it only commits me deeper to keep teaching, to keep sharing, and to never stop trying to both find my own voice, and to listen to yours. People, without exception just want to be heard.
I am humbled and blessed to have so many moments just like this with you all, moments where you are brave, courageous and vulnerable to share with me what your yoga practice means to you. Even without a single word you share this with me in the 75-minutes I have the honor of guiding you through practice. Some of you have shared that yoga has saved your life, many of you have become inspired to become teachers yourself, and each of you, so honest when you come to your mat, to tell the truth, even when it hurts like hell, to celebrate without abandon, to everything in between. When you roll out your mat you dont get decide what comes up, and what you feel….that’s the priveledge of your yoga practice, the honesty.
In October 2012 it will be 4-years that I will have found myself standing before you to teach my first class. I had not even been taking yoga for a year at that point, and yet there I was meant to teach you, and doubt crept up, “what could I teach you, I was brand new too.” Cyndi, the owner, looked me dead in the eye when she brought me on as a teacher and said “people will not come to your class to get into the most physically challenging asanas, they will come to class for your spirit.” But I wasnt sure that was enough…so I stood up in front of you, and fumbled my way around, and read off of notes, and planned the exact right playlist, and the sequence from that months yoga journal…but that didnt last long. I was teaching someone else’s class and I knew it. And so, because you never gave up on me, I never gave up on you. Slowly my voice got louder, and slowly my feet found earth, and slowly I stopped giving a crap if one person or one hundered people came to class, that I was just going to share what I loved…and this was the exact moment when I realized I would teach yoga for the rest of my life, because nothing had ever felt this amazing or important to me. And this was exactly how I would reach people in my world: I would share with them what I love, and I would share it without reservation.
I still get nervous every single time I teach. The old familiar voices creep up sometimes, “am I good enough” “do they like me” “what the hell did I just say? “they think I suck” “ I suck” etc. And I’ll still teach a class every so often in which I wish I could give you your money back. But thank goodness, those moments, they dont last long. And we dont have a reimbursement policy anyway : )
Finding my yoga practice, and continuing to find my voice as a teacher means so much to me, but what it means most of all is I am healing. Those of you who have shared with me that yoga saved your life? Mine too. Before I started doing yoga I was definitley alive but more in the sense of existing rather than thriving, failing, flying: all the things that make being alive so decandantly worth it. I was a lifetime of angry and sad when I arrived to my mat for the first time, an endless pool or reasons of why I was alone, a list I wore like armor as to why the world was not fair. How this person did this to me, and that person did that, and how none of them were good enough. So I showed up on my yoga mat, and well, shit got real. And my anger and sadness came out in drops of sweat, and falling out of tree, and flying into crow, and being inches away from another human, breathing soul doing the same thing. And it was beautiful. And it is beautiful. And my life is no ones but my own, so I must choose wisely how I live it.
Revealing my life to my yoga practice was like lifting a dam to release 25 years of water so that it could finally flow. And though I have found my voice in this, my work is now is how to cultivate this flow of water towards sustainabilty. How can I steer the flow of this water into a greater source instead of letting it spill over the edges and create floods. In this beautiful release has also come an awareness that I have a tendency towards a runaway momentum, and if I am not conscious to this what I create around me is a storm. This showed up for me deeply this past year in a new job, in a new community, and I’m so grateful for this past year as proof that I must constantly be engaged in the flow of my own water, my life, as it can easily go off course. I think this is part of why I am so drawn to vinyasa yoga, the flow of movement, and you know when you’re in it. And you sure know when you are not.
It seems as though I am wishing you all goodbye often. Just a year ago I bid you adieu for Buffalo, and now for Kenya. What I want you to hear stronger than when I say plank, or utkatasana for the 800th time, or step right, set left, is thank you. Thank you. For the cheap seats in the back: THANK YOU. What you have done for me, my amazing yoga family, is love me so much, so deeply and greatly that you ultimatley gave me the strength to fly right out of this nest.
When I first met you, I was not strong. I was really really good at pretending though. And my whole life was a dress rehersel. And then came yoga. And teaching yoga. And each of you….and it is through you, I found me. And it was in loving each of you as is, that I began to love myself…as is. And then you begin to understand that when you live your life as a dress reherseal, hoping that one day you get called on stage to play the part, it will be far too late. And no one will be left in the audience, because they got tired of waiting too and they all went home.
My charge to you is to let people know you the way you let me know you. The you that comes and gives it all, who keeps creating new possibilities, who tries balancing on one leg and risks falling, who places their hands on the earth, who kneels and bows to the ground, who is fearless enough to cry in a hip opener, and courageousness enough to take a handstand in the middle of the room. I am only asking you to be who you already are. And I am asking you to share that you with everyone, without exception.
I promise you that when you decide in your life that you are going to be remarkable, the people in your life who love you most rise up to support you in that, and they will be remarkable too. Let life and the people in it reveal themselves to you. But please know, if you are not listening, you will not hear it, if you are not opening your eyes, you will not see it, and if you do not ask for it, you will not recieve it. Life will reveal itself in the grand gallery that is our past experiences meeting our future, defined as this exact moment. And if you are not paying attention or decide you are not worth it: you will miss it.
I waited quite a while to live my life, and I commit to not wasting one more single second wondering if I can. Your deep breath, your movement, your love: It’s your birthright. A million thank you’s, a lifetime in fact for each of you. I fly because of you, and I fly for you. Thank you so much for showing up, class after class, for providing me courage to now go show up like this in Kenya to our brothers and sisters there.
I honor you. I bow to you. I love you.