Yoga is all about inclusion for me. It starts with feeling comfortable in our own skin. It’s the inclusion of every bodily system functioning in unity for our wellbeing. Yoga is for every Body. Yoga is union with the SELF, the mind, the body, the ego, and everything else. The true definition of yoga is to yoke, make union with whatever it is we feel connected to physical practice, our minds, our jobs, our bosses, our families, and our friends. It reminds us that our depth of union and connection is up to us.
When I teach the practice of yoga, I love to remind the students they are all individual unique parts that make up the universal whole, that all of our parts matter and that’s how we grow unity. My teacher Douglas Brooks likes to say, “We are the point the universe is trying to make.” We come into union when we connect with ourselves and others. Like a grand orchestra, each one of us contributes to the whole sound, the sound of oneness, the sound of unity.
My yoga practice began as a physical practice. I was very athletic and grew up pushing my body to try new things like ski racing and running triathlons. These were all big gross motor moving activities. I always love to reflect on, if I had this knowledge that I have now, back then, I wonder how things could have been different. What I am aware of now is that to make big gross motor movements in my body, they are done from the inside. A quiet mind, a practice of meditation or a mind then can turn inward, eliminate distraction, and begin to cultivate one-pointed focus helps to bring into homeostasis for our total well-being, body, and mind. We become more aware of our skills and become more efficient with our time and energy. This builds on our capabilities, our effectiveness, and reveals a deeper knowing. It starts with desire, a drive from the inside that allows me to recognize that I am made up of energy, and moving my body helps not only with moving the energy but it helps to clear my mind too. The mind plays a huge role in what we are creating as the mind can see the end result. The mind can see the success before it has even begun. Or it can see its demise. The Brain and Mind play a powerful part in our seeing and knowing, and all that we need for our own success is inside each one of us.
The term Guru translates from darkness to light, from unknowing to knowing. When we become aware we are more awake and can make smart choices for ourselves. We align with what we choose and know the right amount of energy needed for success. We are our own guru. Remember we are all part of the whole, embodied humans and it’s easy to feel lost. We can get in our own way. When we remember we are not separate from the universal whole, we are nurtured by unity. That type of deeper knowing that is cultivated from the inside out.
These days, our nervous systems are suffering because we have all socially distanced from each other. This encourages separation and isolation. Part of our autonomic nervous system is our parasympathetic nervous system. This is where the body knows to rest and digest and now based on the polyvagal theory of Dr. Stephen Porgess, we now have a system that has derailed because of our actual lack of physical connection and contact. We are all sensory human beings and we feel stuff. The more time we spend tuned into us the more we identify with our senses as we experience the world. Our experiences give us information based on our senses and our environment. The elements and our senses give us feedback, emotional connection and understanding of our experience. Because of how we get to experience life, this feedback loop of our senses, the elements and our emotions remind us that our biggest teacher, the one we can trust and rely on, lives within us. As we continue to develop Conscious Classroom, what is more important to me is that we help our children celebrate embodiment, loving their bodies and minds. Our work is to teach them about their developing minds and strong bodies so they can become more aware, self reliant, self directed, resilient and comfortable in their own skin.
To me, yoga is a practice of lifelong learning. It sets a functional foundation developing self awareness and self reflection so that as we grow we have a steady base to grow from. As I age, I know I need to keep moving my body and my mind. I am grateful to have this practice of yoga that is my breath, body and mind, all in union with my life. With a practice of yoga, we are offering a child a view of the world trusting themselves, comfortable in their own skin and truly connecting with the people and the environment around them.
The reversal of the 30 year ban on yoga in schools is monumental for our children. These children are going to help us as we all grow forward. They will be grounded in who they are, they will know their strengths and meet their challenges head-on. They will know how to communicate with kindness and ease. They will treat each other like they are best friends because isn’t this the way we all wish to be spoken to? Our children are going to help us right some of the wrongs that are happening in the world on a daily basis and this is a huge start.
I am grateful for the knowledge and the wisdom, for this is what sets us free.