As I prepared to begin my yoga teacher training I decided that I wanted to document my practice and the progress over the next 9 months. My recent posts have revealed my apprehension, questioning and excitement about this process. What am I doing pursuing yoga teacher training?!? All are normal feelings. Although I practiced for many years, I did have quite a long break before returning to my yoga mat. I have challenges with injuries that have occurred over the years and with a body that isn’t a perfectly flexible tiny body. Still I practice and I come to the mat where I am now. That is what is important and that is what I truly want to share in documenting this journey.
I found this quote that sums up some of what I am trying to convey here: “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” (Seneca) (Yes, I found this in Rolf Gates’ book of meditations.) Yoga teacher training, like many of the things I have pursued is a daring challenge. If I do not dare myself to pursue what is difficult though, then I am not truly living. I will have challenges and doubts along the way but I will also grow spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Even in the few months that I have worked with Kim Drye, I have seen improvements in my practice – in becoming consistent, in pushing myself as I know I need to and can, in improvements in multiple ways. This week I have practiced at Three Dog Yoga in Santa Rosa, California as well as on my own. I attended two of Lucie’s restorative classes and a class called Deep led by Sara. Don’t let the word restorative fool you. While the practice is restful and rejuvanating, the poses require work. In all of the classes I pushed myself to try poses that I had not or that I have been uncertain about. There were new poses that have not been part of my regular practice that were deeply healing and stretched my body in ways that felt good. I look forward to my next trip. On my own I worked on standing poses and on chaturanga dandasana. This has been a particularly challenging pose for me but I have figured out a way to practice so I can move towards being able to do it.
Part of my documentation is also a photo journal of where I am along the way of this journey. Last summer I had the privilege of working with Sara Sanger on the photo shoot for Diabetic Living. When I decided I wanted to begin documenting my practice, I contacted her about shooting some photos since I was going to be in Sonoma County for a week. She was very willing to arrange a time for some photos. She also arranged for hair and make-up for me with Ashley Buescher at The Salon Method in Petaluma. This was quite wonderful since I can never manipulate a round brush on my own and it is always nice to have a professional do my make-up.
Our photo shoot was on Sara’s in-laws property, a lovely little spot not far from Petaluma. My poses are not perfect – but that is part of the point. I’m not perfect yet but I still practice and work on moving into the pose a bit deeper or in better alignment, even when standing on a yoga mat that has a hole in the ground under it. I am practicing from where I am right now.
I am a great fan of the work of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition. Their mission reads:
We promote optimal well-being and healthy body relationships through a consistent yoga practice, including physical asana, meditation, and beyond. We are committed to creating safe spaces for bodies of all types, devoid of body shaming, while offering a comprehensive body image education for yoga teachers, community and media outlets.
I believe this is what we need to promote with yoga or any athletic practice. Positive body image is difficult in a world of perfectly air-brushed model’s images. I hope that my photos will help someone realize that your body does not have to be perfect to begin or to pursue a yoga practice or an exercise practice of your choice. I continue to swim, lift weights and ride my bike. I hope that I might get back to running some as well. I will be sharing more along the way, thoughts and photos.
Don’t be afraid to go to your mat, whatever that may be for you, and practice what you love and what restores your body and soul.