Wave Training

“Many a false step was made by standing still.” — Fortune Cookie

I feel like I'm learning to swim again. 

On our retreat to Mexico this spring, I was schooled by the strength of the ocean. The waves were so strong that I got knocked, dragged and pushed in just the first few minutes of diving in to test the water. It was enough to remember the power of Mother Nature and feel some very real fear! 

For the rest of the week, I committed to refining my relationship with water. Every day I went into the ocean for "Wave Training". I learned to watch the waves and choose when to dive over or under each one as they came. I learned there was one place, where if I stayed too long without moving forward or back, I'd get exhausted by constantly navigating the waves. But, if I got past the breaks (and my fear), I could float, flip and dolphin swim, enjoying the power of the ocean. I could enjoy the power of me. 

Since I've returned, I've been asking myself what it would be like to step in more, in all the ways. When we feel the breaks of life, the moments of pushback and sometimes fear, can we trust in our practice to dive in a little more and feel the joy that comes with asking ourselves to reflect the power of nature within us. Can you imagine what that might look like for you?

The waves of life will always come. Our practice is to build resilience and the recognition of choice. If we're standing in the breaks for too long, do we get out of the water? Or go into the deep? 

From the Heart

I used to Wonder what I would be like if I learned yoga when I was young. Id ask, "Would my life look any different today had movement meditation met my body-mind in high school?"

This year, I had the chance to teach yoga at 3 high schools, one of them as a regular job. I also taught individually an inspiring woman who just finished tenth grade, who I also consider a dear friend. 

I get to touch a lot of people through this practice of yoga. It is this high school demographic that really touches me. I can see and meet that part of me that long ago sought a lens through which to see the world.

In this meeting, I see the seed of myself that exists now, from back then, has grown. The question changes. I ask, "What now? Now that you know of this practice, how does this knowing yoke all experience right now?" 

At this meeting point of knowing and experience, I am touched by the confluence of so many things. Nothing is linear. Every wandering of my pathway here leads directly to the heart from the seed, and they are the same.

Why We Practice

Last week a fight broke out in yoga class.

I’ve been teaching at this high school for three years, and its always been a peaceful crowd. They don’t tell you how to break up fights in yoga teacher training, so I found my soft voice saying “Hey, come on…..” and nothing happened. The energy and language escalated so quickly that I soon heard myself yelling “STOP. Both of you, STOP.” And they did.

The tension was thick. In that moment, nothing could be resolved through words….not with other classmates watching. So, I asked the question, “Do you want to stay and practice? Because you have a choice…..”

The answer was YES. We want to practice.

So we stayed. To date, its the most uncomfortable class I’ve ever taught. There was no music or anything to distract us….just breath and movement and tension. I’ve never seen those kids take deeper breaths or stretch their bones the way they did that day. Attention was peaked. No one complained.

I felt, perhaps more than ever in my experience of the practice, the strength of its alchemy….to usher energy, even the really hot and ripe kind that angry teenagers know the best. Its the kind that we all know in our hidden fears and deepest pains if we allow it.

Yoga takes the fuel of our emotions and binds our power to something bigger.

Yesterday, my first day back since the fight, I received an apology at the beginning of class. And after it was over, the one who “started” the fight said, “You know, I didn’t think I would like yoga, but I do….”

I’m so taken that these kids didn’t leave when it was hard. What an example, that they stayed and raged through it, to find on the other side something like a deeper breath.

This is why we practice.