My Return to Yoga

Yoga has been an important part of my life since early 2012. I started practicing when I was 21 years old. I got hooked on the way it made me feel every time I practiced. Not only did my body feel more balanced and full of energy after the practices, but my mind was clearer, too. I was in a better mood. I felt calmer, more centered.

It was almost like this was a spiritual practice, as well as a physical one. It was almost like, if I worked at combining a meditative state–a state where I am consciously trying to elevate the vibrational qualities of my thoughts and feelings–with the movement of my body, I could access higher levels of well-being and serenity.

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Of course, as I soon came to understand, this was the whole purpose of yoga. To unite–to yoke–the body and the mind.

Today I had my first real practice of yoga after having given birth 3 and a half months ago and after not having practiced yoga in about a year. And I felt it all again. I felt the suppleness of my body, the concentrated effort of my mind, the feeling that I was connected with something higher (GOD IS WITH ME was my personal mantra during the entirety of the practice), that I was not only practicing the muscles of my body but also training the feelings of my soul.

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It was wonderful. Honestly, it felt like the first time. Better than the first time, even, because I was returning to something I thought I had lost forever.

I joined Rachel Brathen’s 108 website (Subscription is $14 a month) because I really can’t afford to join a studio right now. The classes are varied and for every level. This seems fitting, since I started out my journey learning yoga at home through online videos, after all. Back in 2012, YogaToday.com was my site of choice. Now it’s Oneoeight.com. I highly recommend both of those sites.

During this interim, I joined a studio in late 2013, and my practice sky-rocketed. My teacher was very good. I learned arm-balances, inversions (LOOK GUYS I’M STANDING ON MY HEAD!) and was even doing a handstand, or getting close to doing one, at least. My teacher trained me and a group of other girls so that we could teach. So we started teaching. I had a core group of students, and soon enough I started teaching Yin Yoga as well as Vinyasa.

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But then my teacher became disinterested in yoga. The same teacher that helped me take my practice to another level. She stopped frequenting the studio, until she gave up going altogether. Without her energy, the studio soon closed. The movement could not survive without its founder. So I stopped teaching yoga. I even stopped practicing it on my own. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was dissapointed with the whole experience and how things had turned out. It was only recently that I was able to admit this to myself, and I think that this most likely has a-lot to do with the fact that I stopped practicing altogether.

Then in february of 2017, I became pregnant… something I had wanted for a long time. Life became rosy / rose-tinted again, everything was great. But I also suffered from debilitating morning sickness and got so big I rarely felt like working out. In fact, I never worked out. And so my yoga stayed by the wayside, patiently waiting for me to return.

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Today, I finally did. And I feel like I’m on fire. I want to practice twice a day, I want to get back to the level I was, I want to teach again. I want to eat healthy, I want to meditate, I want to keep my practice going. I haven’t felt so motivated about something in a long time. And it’s great. It’s like I’ve totally found my passion again.

I’m back to online classes now (and maybe the ocassional studio class with the right teacher, someone who’s truly passionate about yoga just as much as her students are), and it feels right. It feels so right.

I’m back where I belong.

Or maybe…

I never really left.

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Namasté

Gods & Goddesses in Hindu Mythology

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There are many gods and goddesses in hindu mythology, and each one represents an aspect of reality. Brahma, for example, represents the creative principle–the god who created the world. Vishnu is the conserver; he weaves past, present and future together into the infinite narration of existence…and Shiva is the destroyer who through cosmic cataclysms transforms the old into the new.

These are all Male gods with very energetic roles–creator, conserver, transformer. It takes a-lot of power for these gods to sustain the universe in the palm of their hands.

The hindu goddesses, however, are different. Their power is subtle, softer, more intangible… but equally strong in its own way.

There could not have been a creation without the feminine principle in existence, as Brahma well knew when he made a goddess out of himself in order to reproduce and populate the world. She later became known as Sarasvati, goddess of Wisdom, Poetry and Speech.

For indian artists, all art originates in Sarasvati. She is the patron of anything that can portray meaning–and truth–through beauty.

Poetry, literature, music… she rules over them all. Back in ancient India, only men were allowed to practice yoga, and yet Sarasvati is one of the few goddesses who is a yogini (a female practitioner of yoga). It isn’t a stretch to imagine women gathering in secret to practice their art with a statue of Sarasvati quietly positioned at their side.

Sarasvati is certainly an accomplished goddess, to say the least. And even though I cannot help but identify with her, that’s not necessarily the reason I like her.

The reason I like Sarasvati is that her real strength lies in Communication. It’s a subtle strength, yet incredibly powerful. Where would we be in the world if we couldn’t communicate with each other? Trapped inside ourselves, unable to build bridges to our surroundings and to others. It would be chaos. Sarasvati provides an order through her attributes of Wisdom, Poetry, and Speech.

In order to effectively communicate, you have to be wise enough to know what you mean and what you’re saying. When you match the two up, you’re being truthful, and also communicating the concept inside your head to another person successfully. When you conceal what you mean through words, you’re either lying, or you’re not expressing yourself appropriately. Both can be remedied.

Sarasvati helps the truthful, and grants wisdom to expression…and through wisdom there is coherence, and even poetry, and also the refinement of speech. It’s a highly valuable commodity, and one that is vital for peaceful coexistence.

Sarasvati is also associated with the 5th chakra, the throat chakra, in sanskrit Vishuddha. This chakra flows freely when we are able to express ourselves truly and communicate our thoughts and feelings appropriately to the world.

This, I feel, is Sarasvati’s greatest asset. And while the power of Right Speech may not seem as fancy as Shiva’s Big Bang, Vishnu’s History of Creation, or Brahma’s galaxies, it certainly is as important to the human race as all these things, and also lies closer to our human essence, to who we really are.

Because in the end, aren’t we all just yearning for a connection? And this is the power of the feminine, this is what it can offer if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to accept it. Connection, understanding, and peace.