Elephant Journal

Why Yoga Answers Absolutely Nothing

Originally posted on Elephant Journal:
http://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/01/why-yoga-answers-absolutely-nothing/

It’s been six years and I still don’t know why my four cousins died in a plane crash.

I still don’t know why my ex-boyfriend chose her over me.

And I still don’t know why my sister’s infertility problems are diagnosed as “unexplained.”

I think society has the misconception that yoga is supposed to answer all our questions, heal all our problems and support us in a life that is harmless, meatless and free of bullsh*t.

I think we’ve got it wrong, yogis.

Yoga answers absolutely nothing.

What I do believe is that yoga cultivates infinite curiosity in our lives. Infinite possibilities. Infinite paths where we finally become courageous enough to stop, slow down and recalibrate our life’s compass.

Yoga is not meant to be a quick fix and it’s not meant to provide us with an instant overnight bag and eye pillow. We are here to be curious—we are here to do the work!

We are here to ask ourselves over and over when we walk into yoga class, and probably more importantly, when we walk out of yoga class:

Who am I? Why am I here?

These are the questions we are faced with when we practice yoga as a living, instead of as a 60-minute performance once a day on our mats.

Be consciously curious.

Who am I? Why am I here?

What answers am I spending hundreds of dollars just to find out? Because the things I’m struggling with aren’t gripping me—I am gripping them.

The things that I struggle with are merely the answers I have not yet found. So I keep asking. I keep rising. I keep doing the work. I keep believing that time is something I am not running out of, rather something I am constantly running into. And that’s okay, because this is the excitement—the work—the potential of my practice, my entire life.

Yoga is often seen as a path we take to achieve a goal.

I do my wrist exercises every day so that I may safely support myself in handstand. There is nothing wrong with this, but it is merely using yoga as a vehicle. What yoga really is, is encoded in our soul. Yoga is what makes us keep coming back for more, even when we don’t have the answers to life’s biggest questions. Yoga is what makes us not be (that much of) an a**hole if we get rear-ended, cut in line or even worse, questioned about our traumas, histories and defeats.

Yoga is the path to infinite possibilities and potential.

The more I become awakened to new possibilities, the more I find is hidden from me. Pretty silly, right?

Yet the more I find out about my life’s purpose, the more I long to seek different ways to manifest just that. I become curious and I allow this fully. I am learning each day to embrace the questions I ask myself, to embrace uncharted territory of what lies ahead and to allow the curiosity to slowly, steadily boil to a beautiful bubble every time I feel lost.

Because every time I feel lost, I come back to my yoga practice. I ask more questions, I seek more answers. I may not unfold all of my truths just yet, but the idea that infinite possible roads to my answers are out there is pretty freakin’ exciting to me.

So let us sway towards the simplicity of seeking and maybe not completely gathering all the answers, but perhaps understanding the questions, the possibilities, the compass within our soul.

Yoga Is To be Lived, Not Performed

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Four years ago, I felt my calling from the mountaintops of Wanderlust Vermont. It was there that I knew I wanted to become a yoga teacher.

I wasn’t drawn to the one-armed handstands or the yoga on top of picnic tables; I was drawn to the quality of the people, to the authenticity of their smiles and to hugging a stranger just because she shared the same first name as me. It was magic. It was, in my mind, yoga.

Now yogis are called to do 30-day challenges, persuaded to take a picture of our “practice” every day in hopes of winning yoga pants and then asked to take another picture in a different pose in the yoga pants we just won. Yoga is so silly.

That said, social media has been an incredible tool for me, though I post pictures of myself all the time. But in essence, none of my pictures are of my practice—my practice is continuous.

And there’s so much story behind most of my pictures. I couldn’t possible get it all into in. It isn’t just learning to use the dharma wheel this week; it’s learning to use the dharma wheel and then taking time to be of service to the person who gave me the opportunity to practice with the wheel. It’s not just about the handstand; it’s the story behind the tradition of the inversion that requires us to put our hearts above our heads instead of leading through the world with our heads above our hearts, our minds completely controlling us along with our thoughts and emotions.

I’ll promise you this: realizing that there’s so much more to yoga than postures is an incredible gift. These people you see on social media—we have stories to share, philosophies to be spoken of, songs to be chanted and prayers to be said.

It was incredibly freeing to realize that the most “advanced” yogis are the ones with the purest hearts, the ones who would drop it all to listen, to give advice and to be supportive of my wildest dreams. And it was incredibly freeing to realize that in the end, a rat is still a rat—and a man or woman who can press up on his or her fingertips may just be a trapped soul waiting to learn and be guided on along the path, or he or she may in fact be the purest of souls.

Practice living yoga. Practice the path that makes you feel like you’re more than a tight hamstring, a headstand, or the perfect shavasana. Practice serving yourself in such a way that you can’t help but to serve those around you. Fall in love with this life. It’s so sweet… and it’s so much more than a performance. It’s a freaking life dance!

 

Original Article: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/10/yoga-is-to-be-lived-not-performed/

List for a Mindful Summer

Set sweet summertime intentions, beginning with number one:

  1. Make a list.

  2. Be grateful.
  3. Start a journal. This is where we will keep our gratitude.
  4. Smile with the rising sun. Contemplate.
  5. Wake up early, unless you don’t.
  6. Take your practice outside the mat. The grass, the water, the slack line.
  7. Serve yourself a slice of humble pie weekly.
  8. Say yes to travel. Experience long car rides.

  9. Do not complain about the hot weather. Especially if living in Albany, New York.
  10. Identify with things that are bigger than you: the water, the sun, the grass.
  11. Never pass up a farmers market.
  12. Eat as close to this earth as possible, especially eating plenty of in-season fruits and vegetables.
  13. Cut out all the processed crap. It’s summer time, think local watermelon, peaches and zucchini.
  14. Stay hydrated. Sweat in the sun. If we’re not sweating, we are dehydrated and we will burn.
  15. Stay hydrated with water. Pure. From local springs if possible. Go plastic-free.
  16. Coconut oil. For everything. Skin, hair, coffee.

  17. This summer, see if you can avoid the pharmaceutical companies. Create your own medicine from herbs, aloes, oils, and salts.
  18. Live music. Listen to all of the live music. My favorites: Trevor Hall, Edward Sharpe, The Avett Brothers.
  19. Give back. Volunteer.
  20. Smile…because this life is pretty damn amazing, and if we’re too busy to make time to smile, it’s going to pass us right on by.

A Misconception Some Men Have About Women Who Teach Yoga

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Yes I’m a 24 year old single Yoga instructor, no, I will not have sex with you.

I walk into a local bar. Should I play the “yoga teacher card” or the “nursing student” card, tonight?

Am I looking for a one-night stand or a possible relationship? Because it always amazes me, the polar opposite reactions I get:

So Katie, what do you do for a living? “Well, I’m primarily a yoga instructor.”

Guy’s eyes open wide, sudden not-so-subtle look up and down at my body.

“Wow, so you must be good in bed.” Seriously? Got that one once, meant to be a joke I’m sure.

The end. Next bar.

So, Katie what do you do for a living? “Well, right now I’m a full-time nursing student.”

“Wow, I have a lot of respect for you. You must work really hard and care about people.” That’s the gist of it.

Correct. Keep going, kind sir.

I lead a fortunate life. I am healthy, happy and yes, single.

But I’m not going to sit here and tell you it’s all roses to be in your mid 20s and be a single yoga instructor looking for “the one.”

First off, I lost my boyfriend the weekend before my last yoga teacher training immersion. It just got to be too much. He said I was “changing.” And I was, but for the better.

My yoga training taught me to love all souls—everybody, whatever our differences. And to be the most beautiful soul you know. I learned that there was no way I could be of service to someone else if I wasn’t first going to serve myself.

And that didn’t have to mean to start being selfish; it just meant to start being me. I learned to stop pretending that I liked sleeping in until 11am. The real me wants to get up, get my practice in, and work hard strive to be a better being. For now, yes, I am doing this for myself, but only because I want to offer others the best version of myself, and to be attractive to those who…”get it.” If you want to serve others, love others with all your heart and entire being, we must serve ourselves—we must look within and ask, “What makes me truly happy?” and “What can I do today that’s going to reflect who I truly am?” And: what is going to allow me to aspire to be the best wife, the best mother, the best teacher?

So why is it so hard to find a partner? Simple. Respect. I don’t need to go on and on. That’s it.

When I go out to meet new people, I feel an immediate, sad disconnect with the guys I tell I’m a yoga instructor because, apparently, their mind goes into the bedroom…”…Hmmm I bet she can put her legs behind her head..!” (News flash, not every yogi can!)

I work hard as a yogi—I don’t chataraunga for strong arms so I can throw men onto a bed.

I have a daily practice that allows me to explore, to create, to release anxiety and stress so that when I do step into a bar, a studio or classroom, I am attracted to those who seek a mindful journey.

The journey is the reward. At first I was caught up looking for the one, but now my perspective has changed. Now, and everyday, I just aim to be a better Katie and to enjoy the journey that will ultimately find me my true love.

I encourage you to do the same. If you are one of the thousands of single humans out there, aim to create your own journey to love. Strive to be the best version of yourself.

If you build it, the love will come.

Original Article: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/02/a-misconception-that-some-men-have-about-those-women-who-teach-yoga/