After 3 months nestled between the jungle and the ocean in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, I found a place of rest and peace that I wasn’t able to access at home in the States. Everything was simple. I’d go to sleep when the sun set and go for a morning walk on the beach with the sunrise. I’d drink local Costa Rican coffee in the morning, enjoy coconuts mid-day, bike to the open-air local yoga studio for an afternoon class, and wrap up the evening with a glass of wine, some writing, and sautéed veggies and rice.
After returning home to Austin, my yoga practice is what kept me connected to that place inside myself. Intent on diving deeper into my personal yoga practice and the exploration of this place inside myself, I signed up for a 3-week Yoga Teacher Training immersion at Asheville Yoga Center. My intention in sharing my experience is that it supports you in your decision to take the leap and give yourself the gift of attending a training as well.
November 5th, 2014: It’s about 2 months prior to my departure to Asheville for my yoga teacher training and I am doing yoga daily in preparation; Kundalini, hatha flow, ashtanga, hatha yin, and daily meditation. I’m living yoga as a practice of movement and as a lifestyle. I can feel my body getting stronger and more flexible, and my mind spending more time in a place of peace as opposed to a place of chaos.
By making the commitment to yoga teacher training, I have made a commitment to my life and body.
I have made a commitment to live with awareness.
3 days before Yoga Teacher Training begins, January 2, 2015:
I am 3 days away from starting my yoga teacher training at Asheville yoga center and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. I just spent 10 days in New York for the holidays eating pizza, going out for dinner and drinks, and hardly moving my body. I am paying for it today with a bad cold and lethargic body. I know that this always happens when I don’t make nutrition and movement a priority but these past 10 days haven’t been about me, they’ve been about spending time with those I love without the usual regulations I place on myself. This is the beautiful thing about yoga, it starts on the mat but carries over into all areas of my life.
A couple years ago, before I had a yoga practice, I would have beat myself up about the extra soft belly I am carrying around or felt bad for only doing 1 yoga class in the past 2 weeks. But today, I have grace with myself. I have patience. I have love for my body. I am so eager and excited to begin this yoga journey. I have no clue what is truly in store for me. I am grateful for the timing, while still honoring where I am right now in this moment. Waiting at the Atlanta airport, on my way to Asheville, nursing a runny nose and sore throat with some chicken noodle soup.
Day 1: It’s the morning of Day 1 and I crawl out of bed at 6:20am and put some hot water on the stove. It’s still dark out and I can hear the pitter patter of rain splashing down outside. With the excitement of what’s to come, I’ve willed myself to feel better and I am beginning to step back into my body in a powerful way. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali sits next to my computer from last nights reading.
I walk into the room, allowing my eyes to scan the space as I seek out the right place to sit for morning 1. There are pillows placed on the floor in a circle and half the group has already arrived. There are housewives and hippies, healers and travelers, college students and retirees. My mind wants to judge, to place people in a box as if I immediately know who they are, but I let it pass. I let my mind quiet for a moment and focus on bringing the breath into my heart. Knowing that in these 3-weeks these people will become family, not the strangers I see sitting in front of me.
Day 21: Connected. Alive. Inspired.
My heart is broken open in the most beautiful and sweet way it possibly could have. My physical body is both strong and exhausted while my emotional body is soft, open, and receptive. Words cannot explain my gratitude for this program, for this time in my life, and for this experience. I am in honor of the teachers who grace us with their knowledge and presence each day and in awe of the way my body has so quickly strengthened and opened. I entered this program quite egotistical, thinking I knew a lot about yoga and was ready to show up everyone in the class. But what I have learned here is that not only have I really only scratched the surface of what yoga is, but I have scratched the surface of what I am, of who I am, and what I am capable of.
Learning about the 8 limbs of yoga, I see that asana is only 1 of the 8 limbs and in equal importance to that of Yama (how you interact with the world), niyama (how you interact with yourself), Pranayama (breath), Pratyahara (withdrawing your senses inward), Dharana (where you place your focus and concentration), Dhyana (meditation & contemplation), and Samadhi (a state of ectascy and bliss). My potential is unlimited and untapped. I Am. I Am. I Am. And that is perfect.
“Freedom from fear comes only to those who lead a pure life. The yogi fears none and none fear him, because he is purified by the study of the Self.”
My practice to bring more focus and opening to the study of my Self began during my time in India when I began a morning mantra and “I Am” practice, and has deepened and strengthened profoundly over these three weeks.
My daily morning mantra has transformed into,
“Thank you for the challenges, opportunity, and beauty of this day. I release and surrender to the Universe – everything is working perfectly.”
As I place my feet on the ground in the morning, my first consideration is the honoring of my own Divine spirit. As I do my morning mantra, I visualize a white light over my crown chakra, the entry point of spiritual energies and allow something so much greater and powerful than myself to live through me, as me. This is what I learned on my yoga mat and am carrying out into my day to day life.
It is my continued, daily opportunity to stay connected to a higher power and focus on continually opening and expanding my physical body, mind & spirit. Asheville Yoga Center, Kimberly, and John, thank you for holding me accountable and spreading your light into all of our lives.
I am forever blessed and grateful for my time becoming a yoga teacher in the mountains of North Carolina.