I feel that I’m in pretty deep. Not quite over my head, but once in a while, I am definitely treading water. From time to time I think about the fact that when my husband and I moved to this tropical vacation-land in Southwest Florida, I had a notion in my head that I’d be spending long hours at the beach with a flirty novel on my lap and an umbrella-clad beverage within reach. The reality of this mid-life transition looks remarkably different than the vision that was in my head, though.
My imagination could not have conjured up the fullness of this life I am currently living. In my new reality, the beach towel has been replaced by a yoga mat. The beverage at hand is a Tervis mug of lemon-infused water, and the “flirty novel” is a weighty binder filled with words like Virabhadrasana and Sutras and diagrams of the human skeleton. In other words, I am up to my acromia in Yoga Teacher Training.
I’m not quite sure the exact day it happened. The moment when yoga seeped into my soul and became something more than Downward Dog. I suppose the notion began when our daughter returned from India where she did her own yoga training. She was different — completely. When she headed to the other side of the world, she was off-course. Unsure. Not fully happy. When she returned, she was confident and calm. She glowed from the inside out. She talked about breath and meditation and sitting in stillness. Huh? I wanted to hear about how she could stand on one leg with the toes of her other foot resting in her hands near the crown of her head. Isn’t THAT yoga? You know, getting into the poses?
Fast forward to the present. For nearly 30 hours per weekend, I find myself hip-to-hip with seven other yogini’s-in-training. Women who were strangers to one another just a month ago have now spoken aloud what our inner voices chant. We have shared, sweat, cried, embraced and laughed. We have invaded one another’s personal space and created room for growth. We are mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters, survivors, grievers, explorers and learners. Throughout this process, I have been invigorated, inspired, challenged, exhausted and hungry, and when I say hungry, the sensation comes not from my belly but from my heart. I want more. Give. Me. More. Yoga. Deepen the exploration of the noise in my head, the knots in my fascia, the potential of my self.
Recently, I was writing to a dear friend back north about my experience. The words came pouring out as I typed wildly on my computer, “…yoga teacher training is like a needle that has penetrated my heart. I’ve been injected with this serum of calm and energy and joy and fear, and it’s slowly seeping into my bloodstream. It is intense, to say the least, and depending on what I can retain, it could possibly change my life.”
That was a couple of weeks ago, and now, it’s obvious to me that retaining what I’m learning is irrelevant. The change is happening. One day recently, I was sitting outside with my eyes glued to my i-Pad. My husband was in the pool when he said, “You have an aura about you. It’s calm and attractive.” I looked at him, wondering who he was talking to, but it was just us and our dog and his eyes were on me.
It seems everywhere you look lately there is a resonating theme of awareness and strength. Be healthy. Find balance. Stay informed. Exercise. Know your body. Quiet your mind. Take time for yourself. Seek stillness. In other words, practice yoga.
Looking at the photo of my fellow teachers-in-training, I see the faces of warriors. We are not all bendy with open hips and twisty spines. We aren’t all masters of Sanskrit or human anatomy. We are simply women with hearts exposed and minds open. Each of us have followed our own unique path. We all have our individual story to tell. When our training ends, we will each take away our own interpretation of our experience. This too is yoga.
For me, in this moment, I feel joyful and humble, gratitude and fear, but emotions shift. Perspectives change. Capabilities come; abilities go. Only the stillness is constant. Reaching it is what we call yoga.
Laurie Kasperbauer is an active Florida Realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. Laurie also enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes.