What I've Learned in 50 Years of Yoga
"But since you are not able to see me with mortal eyes, I will grant you divine sight.
Look! Look! The depths of my powers!" After he had spoken these words, Krishna, the great Lord of Yoga, revealed to Arjuna his majestic, transcendent, limitless form.
The Bhagavad Gita
This year marked the Golden Anniversary of my first finding yoga. I didn't realize at the time yoga had already found me, perhaps lifetimes ago. It had been waiting for just the right, miraculous moment to reveal itself to me. Yoga didn't reveal itself to me like "a thousand suns, lighting the whole universe with splendor," as Krishna did for Arjuna, but the moment I found yoga was no less life changing.
Each December as people around the world pause in reverence of Jesus, I am moved by the humble nature of his birth. So sweet, and so intimate in the most unassuming of ways. But in that modest moment, in the dark of night as the story goes, came one of the most awakened of beings to ever grace the earth.
I think of this as I reflect on my yoga origin story, which happened in my room, watching Lilias, Yoga, and You on PBS. Yoga found me there in Texarkana, Texas, when I most needed its unconditional positive regard and acceptance. It was the year I was housebound by agoraphobia, needing a life raft in the worst way. Even on a tiny tv set, Lilias's smiling face had a way of making the viewer feel like they were her favorite person on the planet. My first memory of practicing yoga was that it made me feel comfortable in my own skin. The other 23.5 hours a day, I may have experienced sadness, loneliness, and fear. I felt apart from the rest of the world. But in that 30 minutes on my mat (well, this was actually before there were yoga mats), I felt a part, like I belonged. In that humble room, savoring the way yoga seemed to hold me dear, I experienced my Self.
If I've been practicing yoga for 50 years, one could assume I've mastered every pose.
Or that I'm in an eternal state of bliss.
That I can chant every verse of the Gita?
None of the above. Though I've been in continuous master trainings with world renown teachers for over 20 years, and have never stopped studying yoga ... here's the golden nugget--the most important thing I've learned about yoga happened there at the very beginning. For me, I can sum it up like this: yoga is finding your Self, that part of you that loves you like crazy, always has your back, and knows you. I invite you to listen out (in) for its grace.
You'll be hearing from me in the new year. I'll be shaping my teachings and offerings to truly reflect what I've learned over the years, much as I outlined above. I'll be sharing with you how yoga's ancient wisdom intersects with modern life, how philosophy joins with daily living, and strategies to bridge the two.
December will be a month of Rest for me. No teaching, no coaching, no business planning. I wish you the most comforting of holidays, and hope you find plenty of Rest as well. You might just dedicate yourself to a daily lie down, nap, or savasana. And maybe a sweet or two. A cuddle with your favorite person, pet, or pillow. Me? I'll be snuggling with Prana and Yama, those kitties by the fireside.