Truthfully speaking, I never felt better about my yoga practice then I have during these past 6 weeks of absolutely no physical activity. I unfortunately herniated a disc in my lower back and have been taking time off to heal properly and do physical therapy. At first, I looked at my doctor and said “Are you telling me I can’t do anything but rest?” And he laughed and said, “Is that so bad?” For someone like me it did seem so bad, in fact, it was a soon-to-be living nightmare as I knew in my most honest state that if I wasn’t getting exercise I had an exceptional chance of having a mental breakdown. Like many, I was addicted to the glorious release of endorphins that your body produces from sweating and physically challenging your body. And worse, tack on not being able to do yoga? I figured- I have no chance of staying positive and getting through these weeks without my spirit withering away each day. Little did I know how inaccurate that thinking was and that I had a choice to think and do otherwise.
I was walking home from our investor conference today with a grand feeling of lightness. And when I use the term lightness, or even moreso the phrase be light I do not mean inner light. I am referring to a way of being, a way to carry oneself, a way to interact with others, a way to think of others, a way to be a friend, daughter, sister, neighbor, or co-worker. Lightness: like the feeling you experience after a magnificent yoga class where you feel calm, meditative, in tune with yourself, balanced, happy to just be. I never thought I could achieve this feeling without physical asana, and even more so, after taking so much time off of physical exercise entirely. I genuinely believe it happened when I made the decision to take responsibility for the way I was addressing, processing and living my life (as Viktor Frankl tells us we must do).
Self reflection and taking responsibility for oneself is, in my opinion, a true path to freedom and ultimately the true path of yoga. It takes a lot of courage to dive into those murky layers beneath the surface and ultimately, reveal what we would like to see different within our way of being. Oftentimes, our habits and thought patterns are so engrained in us that changing them feels like moving a mountain. What I learned about myself is a lot to work with; however, becoming aware, being honest, and staying in tune with yourself is the greatest gift you can give yourself and others. I found I stubbornly believe things should be a certain way and get upset when they aren’t. I refuse to accept change. I expect others to be a certain way with me. I feel hurt when someone doesn’t like me. I take things personally. I get defensive when someone criticizes me. I react to situations instead of taking time to respond properly. I expect things of others and get furious when they say they expected something of me. Now…I remain open to life’s spontaneity and believe there is never one, ultimate way for things to be. I feel I am a hypocrite for refusing change because when things aren’t going my way all I seem to do is pray for change. I respect people’s freedom to have any opinion they want. I trust that when people say hurtful things it is more about them then it is about me. I am thankful for criticism and see it as an opportunity to have a conversation, realization, grow and be better. Now, I can choose to respond more carefully to precarious situations that make me uncomfortable. I In the end, I realize I will never have the power to change others or to change things that are completely out of my control. Coming to terms with this truth has lead me to a feeling of freedom within myself, a feeling of lightness. Now, I can genuinely focus and stay committed to being better and better each day.
Essentially, not being able to physically practice yoga led me back to yoga in its truest and most powerful state. It lives in each one of us. It is our desire to be a better person, our hard work day after day, our dedication to our families, our inclination to share with others, our love for our friends, our prayers for those that are less fortunate, our willingness to listen, our welcoming others into our homes, our promise to be better, our giving back to the community, and every kind act that exists between the notes. In the end, I can say, yoga is in every morsel of life that encourages having a deeper and more meaningful connection with ourselves, others, nature, and the world as we know it. It sounds too good to be true, I know, but that’s yoga.