10 Lessons from my Yoga Travels down the Pacific Westcoast
Lesson 1: Every teacher has something to teach you. There wasn’t one class where I said, “yeah, been there, done that.” Every teacher has a unique perspective and a different journey to the same Truth. Often, teachers can remind you of what you already know but in a new way. And I had plenty of “A-ha” moments along the way. The most memorable “A-ha” moment was at The Yoga Soup in Santa Barbara, the teacher said; “Stop defining your self and your body with descriptions such as; pretty toes, flabby elbows etc.. Instead explore your movement without preconceived notions. Let your body release the weight of your ideas of what it is and let is be”.
Lesson 2: Try every type of yoga- Don’t get stuck in a rut! As soon as you think one type of yoga is better than another is the moment you’ve lost sight of what yoga is about – the curiosity of the present moment. AcroYoga became one of my favorite yoga styles and I didn’t get to it until the end of my journey- thank you Mara at Namaste Yoga! I admit, I was scared to try Ashtanga and was forced to try it due to it being the only studio in miles but, you know I loved it. There is a strong foundation of tradition and the support of the community was outstanding, thank you Dana Point!
I became an Iyengar convert immediately and almost stopped everything else (Iyengar School of Santa Cruz) until, I ended up in a YogaWorks Pilates class in Newport! Um-hum, their Core crunches give you so much energy for the day!
Then there’s Yin, always what I need but never what I want! (Yoga of Sausalito)
I wondered into a special Prana flow workshop in Monterey and decided Vinyasa was the best…again! Also got introduced to the music of Sharon Gannon’s “loka samasta sukhino bhavantu”
Hatha is like returning to basics for me- it is always welcome at The Yoga Center of Morro Bay! My journey culminated in my teacher training with The Yoga Paradigm who brought together the strength and resolve of Kundalini, the heart of Anusara and the delight and devotion of Dharma Mittra. I know after 12 years of yoga, I’ve still missed a few styles like Bikram so now I won’t be afraid to try it!
Lesson 3: It feels like coming Home! Yogis are my people. Sometimes, you meet people who just GET it. Every studio has a flow and a special vibe. Sometimes it is immediately apparent and sometimes it takes a few classes to really soak into the vibe but the thread of Unity is always there in intention. One of the best things about Yoga is this supportive community. Walking into yoga studios always made me feel like I found my “home away from home”. Remember for participating at a studio in the long term, you are empowered to contribute to that community.
Lesson 4: Consistency = Change. Yogis know that what you put into something will eventually grow. It can often feel like you’re going backwards but consistency has its rewards and I don’t mean getting a pose like handstand. I mean, the long-term positive effects of yoga providing a foundation in your pysche and awareness for Self-knowledge. The practice that comes from peeling back the layers, allows real transformation happen when you are ready. In the words of a great teacher: Pattabhi Jois “with practice, all is coming”
Lesson 5: I’m always better on the other side of a class. It doesn’t mean that frustrations, fears, negativity don’t come up for me through the process of moving my body and the deeper awareness that arises. But the process brings light to my shadows and because I have that framework, I can hold the space to let the energy and stress move through me without getting too caught up in it, most of the time anyway! And more often than not, I’m walking out of class on a cloud of healthy vital energy flowing through my veins! The better to make decisions with.
Lesson 6: Presence is the point! I was often heard saying after each new class: “THAT was the best class I’ve been too!” Granted, I am known as a very positive person and love yoga so that helps, but I really did love Yoga more after every class. Class is what you make it.
Lesson 7: There is room to make any practice your own! Even during class, I have the final say in how I am feeling and how far I should go in a pose. Sometimes I find silence even in a big, packed music class and sometimes music is exactly what I need! Trivia: You know what the most played song in yoga studios was in 2013? “Finally Moving” by Pretty Lights
Lesson 8: It’s good to miss your home studio! It means that you are in fact, nurtured by your teachers, peers and the people who put in so much into it – Rasta teacher, Reno, Big hearted Kundalini teacher- Gloria, Tina, resident Jivamukti teacher, Bernie Clark-living Yin Master, Clara- Vinyasa and queen of alignment, Carina – provider of Darshan, Teresa – Prenatal and hatha Goddess, Cameron – quantum physics deliverer. Thanks to Everyone at Semperviva in Vancouver!
Lesson 9: The most powerful yoga happens off the mat! Yoga means “to unite” and as much as I enjoy my practice, for me the Integration of yoga is the work of living life as a participant. You have to set boundaries with your boss or your loved ones, you have to affirm your child’s being-ness. This is the principle that I have structured my life’s work around. Bringing the art of living into life. And this is what inspires me when I’m creating my workshops: To show people how to integrate what they’ve learned on the mat and put it into daily life. People come to my class perfecting downward dog but can’t apply the balance of that flexibility and strength in daily life! As you enter and leave a studio, you can watch your tendencies to return to auto-pilot.
Lesson 10: Wherever you go, there you are. The world is my Ashram because that’s what I’ve chosen. All the temples along the way serve to remind me of what I’ve always known. That ignorance of my true self is the cause of my suffering. My true self is Oneness and each breath has the capacity, whether I’m on the mat or not, to take me there! Boom Shiva!
Thank you to each and every studio I passed through: The People’s Yoga in Berkeley, Long Beach. Some of San Deigo’s finest: Namaste Yoga, Yoga Six, Aerial Revolution and The Yoga Factory. One Yoga in Vancouver, & The Yogapod in North Vancouver.