kripalu yoga and the path to discovery

I first discovered yoga twelve years ago, but I cannot say that I’ve been practicing yoga for twelve years. I knew from that moment of discovery however, that I had found something special. I didn’t know the depth of that realization. I only recognized the physical manifestation of health that my body exuded after asana practice. Pranayama found its way to me in bits and pieces in the beginning, as well as other yogic practices that I knew naught. Following Hittleman’s 28 day plan, I experienced things that I couldn’t name. I practiced Uddiyana bandha without truly knowing what systems of my body I was affecting. There was innocence then and a simple love for the experience.

I didn’t know about my edge until I took my first class, and even then, it wasn’t labeled an edge. It was taking my boundaries to new levels and moving to that point of ‘sweet discomfort’. It was watching my first teacher move through Paschimottanasana trying to explain to me how she was moving from her hips, not her waist, and not rounding her back; something completely foreign to me at the time. Now, all these years later I can experience that moment differently. I can appreciate and understand what she was trying to express. I can feel my spine lengthening as I grow out from my hips, the crown of my head shining forward. The awareness that has come out of the experience of the practice has been invaluable.

I’ve been through a few trainings, many workshops, and countless yoga classes over the last decade of my life. I thought that I had certain things figured out. What I’m discovering is that most of it has been an illusion.

The second yoga class I ever took, the teacher saw something in me that inspired her to take me under her wing. Soon after, I began to substitute her classes. Because of that experience, I thought it was my destiny to be a yoga teacher. I remember getting so nervous before every class, something that I still occasionally do. The sweaty palm, shaky voice kind of nervousness. For years after that, I had a boyfriend that said I was never going to be a yoga teacher and that I didn’t have what it took. I believed him even though I pretended not to, and spent many years trying to prove us both wrong.

I think the point I’m trying to make here is that all this time I’ve been trying to be a yoga teacher for someone else. Even up until my last training, I was still living with delusions of my ‘false self’ and continue to sometimes question if I’m beyond that. A part of my reasoning for undertaking the Kripalu program was because I thought that I needed it. More training equals more confidence. And that’s what I needed to be the yoga teacher. Confidence. What I’ve discovered through this process is that I’ve used confidence (part of the illusion) as an excuse to keep going, and that I’m not sure why I’m teaching yoga in the first place. I’m not sure if I even want to anymore, or if I ever did. And most importantly, that that’s okay.

I took a training to become a better yoga teacher. I took another training because my ego told me to. My higher self was being silent throughout and letting my ego take the lead. She knew the real reason I needed the Kripalu program. She knew I needed to come back to the beginning to find again the simple love for the experience. Kripalu brought me back into my body, where somehow my higher self knew that I desperately longed to be. I remembered that I loved being there.

My yoga has changed. Not in the way I teach it necessarily. Not yet. Though I do find myself bringing a specific Kripalu-esqe style into my classes, I feel like it was always there, I just didn’t register the origin. I can see an evolution coming soon. I’m crawling out of a box. I’m not sure if when I emerge, I’ll stop being a ‘yoga teacher’, or if I will just change the way I teach. I don’t know. I do know that I love yoga. Love. And that it will be a part of the rest of my life. I also continue to feel deep connections to being a teacher, period. How the two come together is really not important.

I thought a lot about what I wanted to touch on in this post, what I wanted to convey about my Kripalu experience. In the end, I took my pen to paper with a blank slate and an empty mind. My heart spoke, and this is what she said:

I made a comment one morning during sharing, and touched on it again earlier in this writing, about how my yoga was changing. I understand now what that means. My yoga is finally in the process of becoming mine. I am changing from those preconceived notions of what I thought yoga was supposed to be in my life. Through the influences and teachers in my life, I have become a version of those teachings. I am not inferring that this is a bad thing. I am only expressing the lesson that I have learned about my own individual nature. I also know now that it will continue to evolve. I am not restricted to a single teacher or philosophy. And though I have highly respected teachers in my life that I adore immensely, and will continue to do so and learn from, I am not destined to be just an example of their teaching.

I’m not sure what will happen next. I only know that I am now more at ease with the mystery.

I cannot say that it was Kripalu yoga specifically that brought me to these conclusions; conclusions that are not just about how I practice yoga, but how I live my life. I do know however that I came to these realizations during and after my experience in the program and that without it, I may not have done so. These teachings I will cherish, and from them I know that I will continue to grow.

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