It takes tremendous effort for me to go to parties, even with family. I get overwhelmed by all of the people and noise. I am an introvert, and, as my children will tell you, I only know how to have conversations about life. Basically, I am awkward at small talk.
I did go to a party a few weeks ago. A woman approached me about how yoga and meditation could potentially help with a painful condition that she was recently diagnosed with. We talked for a long time about the stresses in her life, including those stemming from life as a working mother, and trying to keep afloat while also taking care of herself.
At the end of the conversation she asked, “Do you ever experience stress because you do yoga?”
This was not the first time I had been asked a question like this. Unbeknownst to this woman and the others who inquire about my life, it touches a vulnerability and tenderness as a yoga teacher and owner of the Beverly Yoga Center.
The simple answer is that just because I practice yoga, I am not immune to the challenges that life offers or being human. I have the same life experiences that my students have and struggle with.
My children fight. I get overwhelmed. I have personal struggles that I don’t have the answer to and wrestle with. I have a tendency to rush, feel pressed for time and can lean towards anxiety when I am out of balance and not taking care of myself. I ask myself the same life questions that most of us ask: Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? Why am I suffering? I see my limitations and flaws as a human being.
Yoga, meditation and Buddhism have been my home base as an adult. These philosophies and practices have not solved my problems, but rather, have acted as pathways to work with the complexities of being an imperfect human being. In the same way, they act as pathways to connect me to peace and joy.
I often ask myself, “How can I apply these principles in life to ease my suffering, to understand myself and others and be engaged in life with an open and compassionate heart?”
Do I do it perfectly? Absolutely not! Do I get off track? Absolutely! Does it look messy sometimes? Yes!
Over the years as my understanding of yoga and meditation has deepened and changed, I see with fresh clarity that the practices of yoga are for us to build our capacity to be human and meet all the complexities and uncertainties in life.
Yoga is a philosophy that has many elements to it besides the asana practice. It suggests that there are several layers to a human being that must be considered for healing to take place and to live in harmony. These layers of the human being are interwoven, interrelated and interactive. What happens on one level affects all layers of the body. This includes the body, breath, mind, personality and heart-center, or spirit.
Living yoga doesn’t mean that we have live up to an idealized perspective we see on the cover of a magazine, perfectly pretty and trim with a Mona Lisa smile. It means that we continue to meet life and ourselves just as we are. We lean on the practices to come home to ourselves. It may not be neat and tidy sometimes, but peace is always there beneath the surface of stress, tension, racing thoughts, hurt feelings and patterns and conditions that don’t serve us.
This is why I practice yoga. This is why I own the Beverly Yoga Center. It is to remind and inspire myself and others that despite the messiness of human life, peace and goodness are always there.