“If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it.”
– Yogi Bhajan
“I practice [yoga] to deal with my own bullshit so that nobody else has to.”
– Callie Munson, yoga instructor
Callie’s words resonated with me as I walked out of class last night. In less than two weeks I start my yoga teacher training. Much has been written about the benefits of yoga such as the meditative aspects to reduce stress or the physical fitness obtained from regular practice. I come to yoga for those benefits too, but they aren’t what drive me to practice.
I keep coming back to the mat because I learn something new every time I’m on it. I consider it a self study both physically and emotionally. In the best of states, I am the quiet observer of my mind during a challenging pose; witnessing my thought processes as I struggle to hold a pose. Am I kind to myself? Am I playing a tape on loop that’s unkind to my body? Am I a perfectionist? Am I settling for less than the best? As I breathe deeper into the pose I ask myself: why? Why am I unkind? Why am I rushing through the moment? Why am I not fully present? Why am I not giving myself this moment to be the best version of me through the struggle and the challenge?
My practice builds character. It allows me a glimpse into my inner psyche so that I am armed with the knowledge to be a better person. I practice to become a noble woman; one who takes responsibility for herself fully so that my issues don’t become someone else’s. I practice to honor my divinity so to witness everyone else’s divinity with graciousness and humility.
Yoga challenges me to be accountable. It pushes me to work harder to get past my ego. It teaches me how to maintain tranquility in moments of calamity. It shows me how to be grateful for the small things: your leg lifting a centimeter higher than it did the week before, holding the pose for eight breaths instead of six, or that cool breeze hitting your face as your sweat hits the mat.
My practice reminds me that my personal success doesn’t have to be measured in milestones, but rather in the day to day; like giving my lunch to the man I saw digging through the trash or not playing that same soundtrack in my head when things go wrong that is wrought with guilt and violence towards myself.
I practice to have masteryover myself.