Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sailing on the SS Svadhyaya*

We've all said it before: "If you'd have told me that in a year I'd be...[fill in the blank]...I never would have believed it." I'm having one of those moments.

Me, a year ago:
Hopelessly addicted to shopping (well, not much has changed there—but I've gotten a pretty good grip!). Doing everything I can to lose weight by diet alone, with some measure of success, but totally unhealthy—sugar substitutes, low carb, high fat, Starbucksaholic, closest thing to exercise is walking my dog. Pretty inflexible, mentally and physically. I was working, going home, napping, walking the dog, shopping. Working, going home, napping, walking the dog, shopping, devouring fashion and gossip magazines. That's about it.

Me, February 2007:
Who is this girl? I am working, but also working out, walking the dog. Getting up at 4:40am to practice yoga, then working, walking and running the dog, no longer buying gossip magazines. I'm taking yoga teacher training (?), pressing 30-pound dumbbells (!), eating carbs and not getting fat(?!). I'm actually chastising myself for judgmental thoughts. I only stop by Starbucks about once a month, for a nonfat Chai Latte. I am teaching kids yoga starting in March! Holy crap!

It's amazing how little mental effort it takes to transform yourself completely (well, almost completely). But teaching kids yoga? Me, who wants no kids? Never saw that coming. It's going to be fun. I observed the kids the other day, being taught by the other teacher I'll be sharing the class with, and I smiled for 45 minutes straight. They are absolutely adorable. Any reservations I was having about making this commitment were instantly erased when I saw them in Downward Facing Dog for the first time. The cutest thing you've ever seen! I actually can't wait to get started just so I can tell you all about it.

Being Brave
If you know me well, you know I am a confessed chicken. It has taken me years as an adult to be brave enough to spend the night in my own home without my husband there (and I'm still not fully alone...my 75-pound Doberman is my bodyguard). I just get so freaked out by every little noise—I swear, I'm a psychoanalyst's dream: I just happen to fall in love with and marry a 6'8" former bodyguard and self-defense instructor, and it's no purse dog for me...I have to have a big, black, stereotypically scary dog...but I digress. I normally don't go outside my comfort zone, rarely try anything new except food. I avoid the slightest bit of mental or physical discomfort whenever possible. This is probably part fear, part ego.

At the end of our first yoga teacher training module, Dolly had us do this closing exercise in which we wrote down affirmations, like, "You are strong," or "You are blessed." The first thing I wrote was "You are brave," hoping that seeing it in black and white will make me be it. Dolly took our affirmations up and redistributed them amongst the group, so we now had someone else's affirmations in hand. We then closed our eyes, and on her cue, one at a time, circulated and whispered the affirmation we were given by Dolly into the ears of our classmates.

Guess what the very first voice whispered to me?

"You are brave."

Setting Sail
I find it very interesting how once you commit to sailing into uncharted territory, as experiences unfold, each one becomes the perfect preparation for the next. Recently, the more I have surrendered control (yes, I am a control freak), the more delighted I have been by the way the bits and pieces of my life have connected without my orchestration. It makes you more brave and more willing to get outside yourself and take a leap of faith. Things seem to just be falling into place without any thought or planning on my part—only an intention to be enlightened in some way.

I started taking yoga with no expectations and fell in love with it. Signed up for yoga teacher training with no plans to teach, because the thought of teaching a class of adults is mortifying—I only wanted to deepen my own yoga practice. So what happens? An opportunity to teach kids comes up—baby steps, literally. (See, God does have a sense of humor!) So I'm on deck again, raising the sails for another journey. Not quite sure where I'm going or how I'll get there, but I'm heading out, riding the crest of each brand new day (while wearing a life jacket, of course!).

* Svadhyaya is Sanskrit for self-reflection or self-study. Read more about svadhyaya at http://www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/726_1.cfm.

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