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Stepping Into Vastness

It’s been a long road and not an easy one at times. Coming from being the student in the classroom to the one holding space for the students. Talk about a transitional place of dedication, commitment, and boundaries. The student-teacher relationship is one that is not to be taken for granted. That means on both sides.

Over the summer I was lucky to have the opportunity to study with Peg Mulqueen of Ashtanga Dispatch and David Keil, the anatomy guy. Within that week of practice I learned more about attachment vs non-attachment vs detachment, self-limiting beliefs, and the psychology of movement. Wow! And just when you think you know, you realize you don’t know shit! That’s what makes me love this practice so much more!

What exactly does all this mean? When we enter into practice there is some bond of attachment that begins to grow inside us. We feel guilt if we do not practice one day or disobey the rules by skipping postures due to time. What about complacency because we don’t get the opportunity to practice with a teacher as often as we would like? So, how do we non-attach ourselves from these feelings that grow within us? How do you detach from the results of the  outcome when you’ve been struggling with a certain series of postures for years? It’s called acceptance. A hard place to be at times. Especially in a practice like Ashtanga. If you’ve fallen in love with this practice like I have, then you understand where I’m coming from. It’s not about the end result anymore. It’s the growth that happens during the journey. The life-long lessons that smack us in the face when we stop breathing in a posture because of fear… the wisdom that presents itself just when you think you have failed.

It’s that little voice inside saying to you “let go, move on and don’t look back”… and when you finally do, all that you’ve been holding on to falls to the wayside and you begin to unfold like a flower blossoming for the very first time. That’s not to say that the work you’ve put in isn’t worth it. Or that you should stop and go around the obstacle just when things get interesting. What I am saying is think about what you’re attaching to and why.  Is it helping you or stunting you?

As I sat in on a lecture with Peg, she spoke about the psychology of movement and our self-limiting beliefs. By the way, we all have them. They come from our words. The way we interact with the world is through our words and thoughts. The way you interact with yourself on the mat is the same way. Listening to the words is self-awareness.  When you are aware you are apt to make changes, but with more thought out decisions.

We all have stories that sit throughout our body. They happen to surface when movement is applied. If you’re not listening, you’ll hold on to those stories for years even decades. And if you’re not aware of old trauma, you’re more than likely to re-injure. The nervous system holds on, creates armor around the area and reinforces the trauma. Pain is no fun, whether it be emotional, physical or mental pain. Our worst experiences can be our most defining! Yes, we have real trauma around the stories we tell ourselves! Yoga gives us a new experience, so we can begin to change our story. It puts us in a place of svadhyaya, self study, to explore the vastness that’s within each and every one of us. In this space is where the healing begins.

This is where the importance of a teacher comes in.  We tell our teachers our story because we want to feel safe. You project it out and the teacher reflects it back with a new experience by reframing the conversation. This practice pokes the beast inside and it will bring out the best and worst of you. But you have the ability to change it at any time. So stop listening to the self-limiting beliefs that things are just good enough or the fact that you will never do a particular asana because of some old trauma. Stop letting the fear of the sensation of pain hold you back from trying! We have to be willing to fall! You have to be willing to take a chance, soften, to take a risk – to realize who you are. It is in these moments that you arrive at your greatest potential!

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