What is yoga? Five months ago my answer would have been improving my flexibility and listening to chill music with the goal of looking better in a bikini. My answer now… completely different.
About ten years ago, I was golfing with a very petite girl who hit her golf ball twenty yards past my ball consistently. I had to know her secret! I asked her what it was, and she told me it was yoga. The next day I enrolled in my first yoga class. I was immediately hooked! The asana was awesome. I was improving my flexibility while getting a good workout in.
At the time, I did not even notice the intention at the beginning of class. All I was thinking about was what I needed to do after class was over. I needed to complete my shopping list…not get in touch with my mind and body! I had no interest in all the “mumbo jumbo” at the beginning and end. What was it even all about? What ego? What monkey mind? What self-love? I’m fine… I’m just here for the asana guys, you all have fun with all that hippie-kumbaya stuff!
Fast forward to January 2016. I had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl on November 27th and she was becoming more and more amazing every day. However, I had not left the house in a month. Showers were hard to come by, cabin fever had set in, and the babymoon was officially over. I had to do something! I had to get out of the house a little bit so I could feel sane! Miranda suggested yoga teacher training to me and I signed up.
In the first session, I was asked two questions I had never considered before: “Who am I, and what do I want?” Oh no. I realized that yoga teacher training was going to be about more than just the asana, and I was going to learn a lot about myself (gasp)! Katrina’s questions seemed simple, but I had a difficult time answering them. Words, mostly nouns, flew out of my mouth. They sounded like the lyrics to the song “I’m a bitch, I’m a lover” by Meredith Brooks. I was not ready for this. Anxiety took over and filled my entire body. I found myself feeling very frustrated with the first question, so I moved on to the next question.
I asked myself, “What do I want?” As I continued this exercise over the next few months, my answers varied. I ended up settling on “I want to be happy and I want inner peace.” I’m happy for the most part, but there are times where I am not, and I let everyone around me know it.
From an outsider’s view, everything is fine and dandy in my life, but I constantly have this unsatisfying feeling that sits deep inside of me. I’m incessantly feeling like I need more, and the grass is greener on the other side. I’m always asking myself, what’s next, what can I do now? I had always attributed this attitude towards my ‘fierce athletic competiveness’ lol, but I soon realized I was just living in Larie-Land.
One day, I was harping on my partner, Wade, for something and brought up past events that had displeased me. He was just playing with the baby at the time, and told me to chill out and just enjoy the moment. He said, “you better enjoy Baby Violet right now, because she’s only this little once!” He then warned me that keeping my mind too much in the past and future instead of the present would lead to madness. Holy crap! His words hit me like a ton of bricks, it was like I had breakthrough! Everything came together, and I realized I need to begin living in the present moment! I asked myself another question, “What can I incorporate in my daily life to make living in the moment more attainable?” I found my answers through yoga teacher training, and those answers were gratitude and loving myself.
I was letting the things I lusted for in life get in the way of appreciating everything I already had. A TV advertisement or someone’s cool adventure on social media made me feel like my life wasn’t enough. In Yamas and Niyamas, Deborah Adele writes, “As long as we think satisfaction comes from an external source, we can never be content. Looking outward for fulfillment will always disappoint us.” These words really helped me understand how much gratitude could change my entire life. I was playing the “if only,” “planning,” and “regretting” game instead of the “thank you” game. I started becoming thankful for nature, people, memories, feelings, emotions, possessions, and a lot more. I’ve noticed that since I’ve been saying “thank you” so much, I don’t really have time to feel jealous or discontent.
Nobody can make me happy until I’m happy with myself first. Loving myself has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life (and giving birth was pretty hard). I am THE QUEEN of negative self-talk. This is not a title I’m proud of, but it is true. I constantly pick myself apart, physically and mentally. This does nothing positive for me. I am trying to stop; however, it has not been easy. It is almost like I am addicted to negative self-image. So I have been slowly weaning myself off of these negative thoughts. Every morning when I get ready for the day, I say a good thing about myself. Sometimes negative thoughts still fill my head, but I am trying… baby steps people!
I’m slowly figuring out who I am and what I want. I may not have all the answers, but as long as I’m asking myself those questions, I feel content, grateful, blessed, and pretty happy! Today my definition of yoga has changed. Now I see yoga as connecting my body with my breath, staying in the moment, letting go of the BS, while learning to appreciate this beautiful thing called life. The asana and chill music are still there, but now… so am I.