June 7, 2021
The “Real” Yoga
It usually begins with a physical experience, at least for me it did. Many of you reading this, including myself, entered yoga through a vinyasa or movement-based class that challenged your strength, flexibility and focus, among other things.
Speaking for myself, this was enough to spark a passion inside that led to a fire that began to burn so brightly that others around me began to notice. This discovery encountered peaks and valleys of consistency over the many years of practice and served me well through phases of maturing into the man you see today. Beyond the physical shifts that were happening, I even noticed growing more confident within myself and being less fearful in life. Then 2020 hit and the “real” yoga started to happen.
My mother was back in the U.S. and I was in Bali long-term starting a new adventure aimed to further my career and spiritual growth. What I soon realized is that what I had known as my yoga practice was about to shift in unimaginable ways.
My beautiful and loving mom’s cancer was back and it was spreading fast. Also my only sibling’s custody battle was exposing how the legal system can be used as an evil weapon and was taking its toll on my loved ones. As if this was the enough to emotionally jolt and upend my personal agenda, then my best friend and fellow yoga teacher suddenly passed away completely unexpected.
Then out of the blue in the middle of the night, I received a call from back home and had to put my cat to sleep via FaceTime. Oh, Did I mention there was an international pandemic happening…and I also got scammed for thousands of dollars trusting the wrong people in Bali, meanwhile my apartment in LA (that my friend who had suddenly passed was subleasing) had been burglarized. I was in shock. I felt helpless.
In April I rushed back to be by my dear mama’s side. She fought, we fought, and eventually on July 2nd she chose to take her last breath as my sister and I held each hand and sang her a song that she used to sing to us as children. It was the most beautiful and loving moment of my life. Before she passed, I promised her I’d help with my sister’s current situation and went to live with her until it felt right to leave.
During my mom’s last days, she was admitted to the hospital and because of COVID-19 she was only allowed one visitor, period. And if that visitor left for any reason, they could not come back. That visitor was me. I stayed with her in the hospital room for ten days without leaving her side. Because the nurses saw how committed I was to not leaving, they granted me two hours to use the waiting room for an online 200-hour yoga teacher training that I was starting and leading and did not want to miss. I could go on, but I’ll stop here to make my point.
What I realized is that my yoga practice had evolved. All the priming that the movement-based yoga classes were doing was simply preparing me for more important life occurrences like being of service, helping others, and supporting those in need.
My hope for all students of yoga is that we learn to take our practice off the mat. To use our group classes to strengthen our capacity and willingness to show up in the world when needed. In a way the shift I experienced was from selfish to selfless. From mine to ours. From temporary to forever. By listening in class, we become better listeners in life. By caring for ourselves we feel the call to care for others. It’s not about me or you, it’s about all of us, both on and off the mat.
Below are some recommended practices as always: