MAY 29, 2021
Interview and photo documentation on her definition of joy and her journey with yoga and teaching
Joy means peace to me.
Where I am calm, where I am not anxious.
For as long as I can remember, I have lived with anxiety. I didn’t know the name for it but I knew the feeling of it. I have a good life that I have created with so much love, a good life partner who supports me, and a job that I love. I am a very positive person, and I try my best to look at situations in a positive way. I try to find solutions. But even still, anxiety can find its way into my mind, on a daily basis. About 7 years ago, I started my yoga journey and over 4 years ago, I started teaching. Through the practice of yoga, I started to learn more about myself, my anxiety, my fears, and what holds me back. I continue to read, research, and learn more in order to get better at living. I believe it’s a constant process of shedding layers.
Once you start to learn more about yourself, it is easier to observe the situation and act accordingly. Now when anxious thoughts come up, I am able to observe the situation and listen to what it is trying to tell me because I know it’s trying to tell me something. This practice helps me to live more truthfully because I am questioning my emotions and feelings. I think this is the path to peace and happiness; observing and trying to understand, instead of ignoring or reacting.
There is a book called Inner Engineering by Sadhguru. In the book, he simply explains how we are not our mind, we are the watcher, the observer, the witness.
This wisdom shifted my being. Now, as soon as an anxious thought comes up, I get into witness mode. I stop, breath, and observe to understand what my anxiety is trying to communicate to me.
I tune into matras because it takes my mind out of the craziness and picks me up. I bring my awareness to the natural rhythm of my breath and start following it.
As I inhale, I silently say “in” and as I exhale, I silently say “out”.
When I teach yoga, I am the most present. I give my full awareness and attention to my class and my students. I don’t get into a class half-heartedly. I no longer teach at places that don’t resonate with me, I am very selective about it.
When I teach, I am 100% there, in the moment, there is absolutely nowhere else to be, nothing else to do. The beauty of presence, a joy of teaching.
Yes, yoga is what happens on the mat, but it's also what happens off the mat. How do we react to situations? I used to get triggered, angry, and anxious about little things. Now, I stop, take a moment and take a few breaths. I know I can control my mind using my breath. The best gift ever!
Sitting still and breathing calm, or meditation, used to be very hard for me. This year, I completed a Breathwork Instructor Course, and during this training I learned more about breath and how to activate energy in the body using the breath. We start the breathwork practice with gentle movement to open up the body. Followed by strong and powerful breathwork techniques to create energy in the body and to clear any blockages. Then we let everything settle, like how the dust settles. We watch and observe the energy making our way to slower, smoother, and calmer breathwork techniques. Our final step is meditation, just pure being and observing.
People unconsciously know how the mind and breath are connected. Think about if someone is upset, a common response they will receive is “take a deep breath.”
It is our instinct to control our mind and emotions with our breath.
Any kind of intentional movement brings me joy: yoga, walking, hiking, swimming, or working out.
Sweaty activity helps me to release blocked energy in the body.
Being barefoot brings me joy. I think us, humans, are meant to live closer to the ground.
Spirituality is doing the work.
I consider myself a person on a spiritual path, not sure where this path takes me but I am loving the person I am becoming. If you think about it, the path to peace, happiness and liberation is quite simple: practice kindness, be truthful, eat healthy, move your body, drink a lot of water, breathe deeply and still your mind.
Once you align with your values and what moves your soul, new doors start to open.
Sadhguru writes, "love is a human possibility. If you need a refresher course, you can take lessons from your dog. She/he is full of love!"
After reading this, I started to observe my dog Coco. I realized how intentionally and mindfully she lives. When she wants to drink water, she just drinks it, she breathes very calm and deeply, she takes a lot of stretches throughout the day. I aspire to be more like her.
Joy doesn’t have to be complicated for humans.
We need sun, we need water, we need connection,
and we need movement.