Thursday, July 5, 2018

Yoga Flowing

Once upon a time, there was a new mom. And with a new chapter in her hands, and a day no longer scheduled or time blocked with a business agenda, she found herself relearning the every day with their little baby boy, whom she and her husband loved so dearly.

New routines meant new experiences. And once she recovered from her delivery, she noticed a new class at the gym. She'd never attended a class. She'd never really needed to. But this class was offered at a great time for her and her baby and it seemed intriguing. It was a "mom and me" class - she could bring her baby with her, keep him in his car seat and do a class with other moms.

Since he was so little, and since she had no clue of how he would be in that type of setting, she gave it a whirl.

And then the toughest moment of the journey came.

She had to walk through the door for the very first time. Step into a space she knew nothing about, meet people she'd never known, and allow herself to learn new things.

She paused. A spark of fear of the unknown surged through her body.

And then took a deep breath of courage. Because courage is not the absence of fear, but the action through fear.

She relaxed her shoulders, hooked the car seat on her forearm, pulled the diaper bag over the older shoulder and walked in.

This journey took her so many amazing places. From two mentors who empowered her not only to attend classes, but to take courses to begin teaching classes, and then who taught her how to practice and refine her skill. They motivated her to learn how to teach other formats and truly step into any room with an open heart and mind ready to connect with whomever joined her.

She found herself teaching at multiple gyms. Classes grew and grew. New faces became regular faces. Connections were made. Friendships blossomed.

And while she loved the flexibility and variety of all the classes - she loved the power she felt and taught in strength classes, the movement and dancelike motions of a step class, the precision of a strong pilates mat class, the sound and rhythm of a powerful spin class - she found that her heart, soul and mind truly sang with yoga.

Over the years, as her and her husband grew their family and moved from state to state, she continued to cultivate her love for yoga. She studied topics, went to trainings, mentored under incredible teachers and read books. She wrote classes in her spare time, found unique music, and would take notes of things she loved from any class she took.

Over time, she found herself not only teaching yoga, but striving to live the principles of yoga. She and her husband found themselves applying the principles of the yamas and niyamas in intentional ways: they spent a year only spending money on absolute essentials, they cultivated contentment through date nights after the young children were in bed, they chose one word to focus on each month, and then for an entire year, they found themselves letting go of comparisons, competitions and judgements, they practiced listening to their thoughts and discerning truth. They looked for moments to be mindful of, and strove to choose experiences over things. Above all, these practices strengthened their connection to God and empowered them see and embrace the beauty of their religion on a much deeper level.

Again they moved to a new state, and teaching group fitness became a source of connection in an otherwise unfamiliar place. She loved the new friendships, and looked forward to teaching yoga each week. And her love for the practice grew and grew. She moved from teaching in a small room, to teaching in the biggest room the facility could offer to create space for all those who chose to be there with her. It was beautiful.

Knowing she wanted to continue cultivating her skill, she chose to sign up for a series of trainings that would help her "complete" her 200 hours of yoga training. It would require travel and time away from home, but she felt ready, and her husband was so supportive.

But then a big choice came into her life. A new direction.

As much as she wanted to learn and grow as a teacher, it paled in comparison to the desire she had for adding another baby into their young family. And together, she and her husband moved forward with faith.

Knowing what mattered most outweighed what mattered much, she found herself letting go of one thing to further embrace another. And as her belly grew, and she later held this beautiful angel, she felt peace in her heart.

She took this brand new bundle in her arms as they moved to the next state. And this little bundle was a light for her as she navigated new terrain and a new chapter as a family. This little soul spoke light into her heart and helped her focus more deeply on the beautiful gift of motherhood.

She found herself wanting to teach and embrace these spirits she and her husband had been entrusted with. She knew her best use of time during this season was with them.

But her love for yoga and empowering other women remained strong. She found herself creating a whole new way of teaching. The words "strong and mindful" spoke to her as a way to serve and be mindful of those she connected with. To remember that we all have a story and we are all in this together. From her home in the early morning hours during the summer months she started things she had never thought of before. She made dear friendships and together they wrote a yoga series centering on self-love and connection. The next year, she wrote an entirely new curriculum, and did it again the third year.

Each curriculum she wrote and taught she continually strived to live. And the journey was beautiful.

Shortly after she started that third summer, it was time again for their family to embrace another move across the country. And while she knew it would be so hard to leave something she had created and loved, she knew what mattered most mattered more than what mattered much. And what mattered most was the experiences and learning and growth that would come to their family with this new chapter.

But before she left, she knew it was time to create something beautiful. A retreat for women. In the mountains. To center. To empower. To connect. But she couldn't do it alone. And God knew who to place in her path to guide her and together they created something beautiful.

As much as she loved those experiences and knew they were good, she also knew it was not sustainable. It was pulling her in too many directions and was stretching her too thin. She couldn't give her very best to those little souls who mattered most.

And as they moved across the country, she let it go. She let go of her business. Social media. She let go of the retreats. She let go of the classes.

She was lonely yet free.

Sad yet at peace.

Less than yet enough.

Heartbroken yet loved.

The pendulum of emotions confused her. She didn't know which ones were true, so she created space to simply feel them. To honor them.

And over time, she discovered something beautiful.

The times and seasons led her to her exact spot. All things were for her good, and for the good of those she was around. They were part of a plan and path that she needed to walk. They helped mold and shape her into who she was at this very moment. But they did not define her. She could continue to write her story. To change. To learn and grow in new ways. And as she continued with faith, she would be led to do good continually and to strive to serve with all of her heart, might mind and strength.

As she soaked in this peace, she honored the past, present and future of her love for yoga one evening with three of her darling angels. One whose energy is like the sunshine. Bright and warm. One whose energy is like a calm quaking aspen. Strong and steady. And one whose energy is like the ocean. Determined to continually flow beyond what the eye can see.

The things that mattered most mattered more than what mattered much.

It was not a big audience. Nor was it the perfect yoga studio setting. But they connected together. And in the moments, between the breathing and flowing movements, she strove to teach them to love and honor their bodies and the gifts that they are. To love and honor their minds and all the good they can do in the world. To honor their hearts for all the love and light they can give. And to honor their spirit - to hear the soft, calming voice above any noise.  Because the light within her, she wants to share with the light within them.

And she had peace in her heart as she discovered the true gift of yoga wasn't in the destination. It is in the journey. And so she moves forward with hope. Not knowing the road ahead, but trusting in the One who guides her.

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