Over this past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a yoga conference in the mountains of Vermont. Perhaps, upon reading this, your mind went right to a visual of hippie flower children running around the mountainside Namaste-ing each other. And you know what? You’d be right on! Oh, but it was so much more than that! Just like the practice of yoga itself, this festival was such a deep, personal experience for me. I had the privilege of traveling and spending the weekend with four other amazing women; it was a unique, powerful and heart opening experience for each of us.
While I was truly excited about attending this festival, I was also feeling somewhat anxious about it. Over the past several months, I have developed tendinitis in my left thumb, which limits some of the poses in my yoga practice; I knew that downward dogs and arm balances were out of the question from the very beginning. However, the bigger mountain that I had to climb (pun intended) was that I was feeling very conflicted about my yoga practice. Over the past six months or so, I have had mixed feelings about my personal practice and even before the tendinitis, I had decided to take a break and re-evaluate what I needed from a yoga practice. These mixed feelings initially caused me to feel very separated from the other yogis at the festival, like I was a bit of a yoga fraud. As I Om’d and Namaste’d my way through the first sessions of the festival, I kept feeling like I truly didn’t belong.
As I went along the first day, though, I started to feel my heart opening up, as the tears came and I settled into acceptance of the fact that I did belong and that my perceived limitations were just that, perceived. I began to realize that I could participate in most of the classes that I signed up for (with the exception of acro-yoga, though it was fun to watch) with only slight modifications and that regardless of how often I practiced yoga, there was a place for everyone’s mat no matter what.
I began to look at this experience with a much broader lens. While I was feeling this at the yoga festival, I started to wonder how often I find myself in a place where I don’t feel good about me. I pondered where I create limitations to what I can accomplish simply because I am unable, or maybe at the moment unwilling, to shift my perspective and see the numerous possibilities that exist to participate in life without struggle. “Work easier, not harder” was the mantra that the chi running coach left us with at the end of his class this weekend. I considered how this mantra could be expanded to “Live easier, not harder”. For me, this was game changer. As I started to reflect on what I could do to embrace the moments when I felt limited or stuck and started looking at those experiences through the “Live easier” lens, I saw how quickly shift could occur.
Putting this into practice at the yoga festival, I felt an immediate change in my energy level and a feeling of peace and acceptance flowed into my entire being. Thinking about bringing this back to day-to-day life, I could already see light at the end of tunnel that I did not recognize before, hopefulness in the things that made me feel hopeless and a sense of being lighter, more empowered and centered.
I ended the festival with a yoga class taught by the hip-hop artist MC Yogi accompanied by DJ Drez, mixing the music of “A Tribe called Quest”. Still on a high from the rave-like show MC Yogi had performed the night before, I along with over 100 yogis hip-hopped our way through an hour-long yoga practice. The energy of this class, and the music, drew people to the doorways of the festival tent, allowing them to become a part of the amazing energy radiating through out.
I left the festival with that amazing energy radiating within me and I brought home with me the lessons and “ah ha” moments I experienced. Keeping this in my line of sight, as I ebb and flow through each day, will take patience, daily focus and awareness, particularly during the times that I am trying to “live harder” than I need to. With this, I intend to put my new mantra into practice right away!
“Live easier, not harder”