I'm just so surprised

Ganesha, the remover of obstacles ; Photo by  Laura Olsen  on  Unsplash

Ganesha, the remover of obstacles ; Photo by Laura Olsen on Unsplash

Hey there,

I recently had the chance to work with a very new to yoga student up here in Rhode Island. We had a one on one session, taking it very slow. For many of us, poses like downward facing dog, plank, and child’s pose are incredibly challenging, so we focused on safe alignment and breathing throughout the hour together.

Aside from the poses [asana], we talked about how yoga views us as multi-layered human beings - that yoga is beyond the physical experience and is really a science to be lived in many different aspects of our lives. That’s just one of the reasons I enjoy working privately - you get to dig into which postures will support your body right now (you don’t need much) and which components of the philosophy could support your heart.

We walked out of the studio together, chatting away, when she stopped, looked at me and said, “How did you get into yoga in the first place?” And, then she said, “I’m just so surprised…it seems like yoga teachers are so…smart.”

Wow. I could take that in a multitude of ways, right? But, I get it. We teach “yoga.” We do yoga because we’re already flexible, we already have perfect lives that we sail through with ease. We drink our green smoothies, diffuse our oils, dry brush before showering, and everything’s fine. I’m totally being sarcastic here. We come across as going with the flow, maybe not being super ambitious, because after all it’s “yoga.”

But, here’s the thing. She’s right. Yoga teachers AND yoga students are the smartest people I’ve ever met. Why? Because they are learning the process of becoming AWAKE. It can seem like we’re chill, flippant, on another planet, but many yoga teachers feel so strongly about teaching because they’ve walked a tremendously difficult path before.

They know firsthand the healing that takes place when you start to roll out a yoga mat and get quiet, and so we share the practice. We’ve left big careers to open businesses, moved across country, go back to school, essentially deciding to believe in ourselves. Yoga knows no bounds - we are women, men, doctors, lawyers, teachers, stay at home parents, carpenters, musicians, flexible, not flexible at all, wobbly, graceful. We let yoga infiltrate our lives, because it WORKS. But, there’s struggle. There’s been pain, there might still be, and there will be again. There’s been fear. It’s just…we’re learning different ways of viewing the world and how to interact with it. We’re becoming conscious.

***

This weekend, Yoga Dear celebrated her third birthday. WOW. We’ve grown in ways I never imagined, teaching over 1500 students in our time with a brick + mortar space in little Lewisburg, Pa., and continuing to have newsletter readers from Rhode Island to Hawaii to New York to California to Florida.

Sharing these letters, teaching, studying yoga, and learning from you has been one of the greatest gifts I could have never imagined. YOU are among the smartest people I’ve ever met, because you’re choosing to challenge yourself. To get uncomfortable, which starts with those beginner yoga poses, but really spills over into allowing discomfort in your life. You’re realizing your infinite potential, you’re listening to your inner voice over your inner critic (or at least you’re aware of it), you’re making decisions out of love rather than fear.

I toast you, each of you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing your words and practice with me. Thank you for studying with me. Please thank yourself for how far you’ve come, for how much you’ve learned. And, remember, we as yoga students and teachers still have much work to do - on ourselves and in our communities. Happy Birthday to all who’ve called Yoga Dear home as a studio, and as a place to read a weekly letter with a hot cup of tea. I bow to you. Namaste.

With love,
Leanne

A new [but, actually very old] approach towards well-being

Hey there,

As I type, I’m elbows deep in books, papers, and notes, preparing for Yoga Teacher Training this upcoming weekend. I had another letter in mind for you, but I decided to hold on that and share this:

There is absolutely nothing WRONG with you. You are not broken. You don’t need to be fixed. You are already whole. Your ability to heal is within you. And, that’s what yoga + ayurveda aim to do. To support you on your journey back to your Self. Back to your wholeness, your whole being wellness.

***

That’s not to say you may not need some help on the journey. And, here is where we can seek out the support of trusted care providers (acupuncturists, doctors, therapists, yoga teachers, chiropractors, herbalists, nutritionists, health coaches, yoga therapists, etc.) to help guide our way, to encourage it. Emphasis on guide.

There’s another path of study I thought you might be interested in, and that is Ayurveda. Ayurveda is something we’ve been studying in teacher training as well as a layer of yoga therapy that I’m practicing. It’s known as the “sister science” of yoga (because yoga is actually a science…but you knew that, right? Insert wink).

“Ayur" means life. "Veda" means knowledge. The practice was recorded 5000 years ago, and is one of the world’s original forms of medicine. What I love about it is that it's particularly tailored to YOUR needs. You won't find a one size fits all diet, exercise regime, or meditation practice. You won't find a "demonizing" of wheat or dairy or fruit or legumes or meat. You won't find workouts that preach high intensity or low impact or cardio. Nope.

Ayurveda takes into consideration your unique make-up, your unique way of moving throughout nature (and how it moves in you) to figure out what foods, movement, and other practices would serve you and your body best. Isn’t that beautiful? To know that you don’t have to eat or move the way “everyone else” is moving/eating in order to find wellness? Ayurveda is such a specialized and personal journey that for me and I know many, many others has been profoundly healing, especially coupled with a yoga practice. I find it hard to separate the two now.

***

Are you intrigued yet? I hope so, and I’m happy to write more about ayurveda and using it as a tool in your wellness journey. But, the point I’m trying to make here is this: Eat what’s right for YOU. Move how your body is asking YOU to move. Listen to what’s happening within your mind. Use your yoga practice as a way to check-in with your needs at any given moment (maybe a stronger practice today and a gentle one tomorrow). Let it be a reminder of your wholeness, your amazing-ness, your ability to heal. And, know that there is a science of health that goes hand in hand with yoga to start to explore if it speaks to you.

As we embark on a month that’s wrapped around the concept of love, please remember to love on YOU today. Remember that you are unique. You are beautiful. You are not broken. You are already imperfectly & perfectly whole. Try not to let anyone [or thing] make you feel otherwise.

With love,
Leanne

P.S. If you’re intrigued by Ayurveda, check out this article here. And, if you’re a bookworm like me, consider picking up a copy of Eat, Taste, Heal (a favorite of mine!) or Eat, Feel, Fresh (a recommendation from a Yoga Dear student). Please know, at the moment I receive zero $$ for sharing posts and books with you. This is 100% based on my own study that I want to pass on.

P.P.S. Really, how are you?? How is your yoga practice? What are you working on/with? How is your body feeling? What do you think about Ayurveda? If you have three minutes, send me a quick message. I love reading them and learning about how yoga is supporting you in your life.