It's also no secret that as students we gravitate toward the teachers who speak to our heart-mind, seeing in them a reflection of what we already know to be true for ourselves. Eventually we come to realize that our greatest teachers aren't some Guru in an Ashram where we bow at their feet, but regular people just like us. Sometimes, these teachers aren't even on a yoga mat, but a stranger off the street.
When I was 5 or 6, I sat in church and was told God would love me if I was perfect. Their God was scary. That wasn't my God, my God was LOVE. My God was kind. My God was accepting of my flaws. What was taught to me did not stick because it did not resonate in my heart-mind, so I made up my own God to help me through the tough times and I tried to be like that God when I interacted with others. I still thought I was going to a place called Hell though.
In High School I started seeking outside of myself for the answer in the self-help isle when deep pain began to emerge from past trauma. This didn't resonate too long because I was being taught that I was a victim and I was now feeling dis empowered. This path felt too self-involved and final, to be helpful for me or anyone in my life, so I lost interest and just decided being "messed up" was the way it was going to be, so I got into Drama (Speech and Debate Club), so I could pretend to be somebody else. I was good at it. I won a lot of trophies (better than drugs, I never got into that). I also started using music as a sort of catharsis. To this day I still can not listen to Depeche Mode <shudders>.
In early college I sought help in the Metaphysical section with the Seth Speaks series and thought I could Astral Project myself into peace and harmony with everything outside of myself or at least get off the planet that hurt me so much. I got pretty weird, even for me. I sort of "woke up" when a guy I was dating broke up with me because he didn't like the smell of Patchouli. I thought bathing in Patchouli while listening to New Age music would spiritualize my life. It didn't, I still had the same patterns of behavior I always had, I just smelled more "Earthy".
Then in 1993, at age 20, I found Yoga (asana, ancient text, meditation). Back then there were no studios, it was pretty much just me, my incense, and my tie dye whatevers. This is also when I decided to try being a vegetarian for the first time because that would make me a better person. My teeth hurt from the beans I could never cook correctly. Still, I felt like I was onto something. I came and went from yoga until 2000 when I became pregnant with my son, after that, it stuck. I also came and went from Vegetarianism until 2009, then I gave up deciding that what I ate had anything to do with who I was as a person.
Because I was practicing yoga before the yoga boom, I thought the new yoga boom was well, a bunch of shit. I remember being in my first Power Vinyasa class and this phrase ran through me mind," What the Fuck is this shit?" How very non-sattvic of me. I blame the Rajasic practice, but whatever. I was being judgmental and well, I sort of freaked out. I started teaching the way the masses wanted me to teach. I felt fake and while I knew it was what my employers and students wanted from me, I still felt like almost all of my classes were only half-truths of who I was and what I wanted to teach. I also started running around teaching 17 classes per week, forgetting to feed my own spirit. Sure, I was taking workshops and learning, but my life was falling apart and I really had no idea what I was doing, but what I did know was, this wasn't me.
In 2007 I went to India for the first time and had a Vision. Open my own place. Teach the way I want. Bring back Old School. So, I did. I thought I was doing this to help others, but as I mentioned before, our teachers come to us in various ways. The studio showed me very quickly that while my intentions were pure (to serve), there would be people who would reject it. I had never struggled so hard to just be who I am, no matter what anyone said. It took years, but I finally realized, that I could be handing out a free trip to Planet Peace and Tranquility wrapped in pink polk-a-dot paper and some people would say my gift was crap and I was full of it. So, seriously, I just said," I am who I am and I'm ok with that and I'm ok with others not "getting" it." I also realized that while I stuck to my vision, other people were empowered to do the same, all around me. People were flying high and away and I thought,"Being true to yourself and allowing others to do the same, this is what it is all about."
I realized just recently while observing this yoga boom and the quest for all of this beautiful knowledge that ALL of us have within us already, that I'm not sure I teach yoga, as much as I teach authenticity. If we are not authentic, how can we find yoga? For years, I thought I had it going on and all figured out, but I didn't. Now I realize I still don't, that what I know today may be different tomorrow, but what is truly beautiful is loving exactly who I am TODAY, right now and I find it so much easier to accept and embrace others as they are at any given moment. This is what I want others to experience. It's a dream of mine. It's the kind of Heaven I imagine when I think of God Consciousness.
I want people to also experience this video that a friend of mine gave to me. Take time to listen to it and drink in the lyrics and I'll be playing this on my guitar around a bonfire soon. XO