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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Grateful Crow

For the first time in my 4 years of practicing yoga, I did a magnificent crow today. I did not fluke my way into it, i got into it and I held it. I was in control and I loved it! If you knew me, you would know that I never ever thought I would do an arm balancing pose. I blamed puny wrists, moody cats and rich indian food, but I know it was fear. I'm not sure of what. The future? the past? spiders? my husband when he has had beans? my disapproving parents? i dont know. 

But, is it a coincidence this happened a day after I was told I was going to be a part of something special? Something that would not only bring me joy, but maybe I could make someone else's day. I get to mentor a yoga teacher in Kenya thanks to the Africa Yoga Project. What came my way is probably not a big deal, but the way it happened; no amazing story, just a random posting i saw on facebook that I responded to. The lady in charge even told me the positions were filled up; and then suddenly an opening, was I interested? 

i keep trying to show each person i meet how special and unique they are, and somehow I'd forgotten that about myself. And it isn't that I feel like some guru or preacher, I truly do not, (proof in first paragraph). But to think that someone else thinks that I have something to contribute, that my story is important. It was so unexpected and maybe that's what I had been craving all along.  

Despite the hours of yoga, the reading, the workshops, the vegetarian food, the chanting and cathartic screaming, a part of me craves approval, that my loved ones will support my choices and decisions no matter how irrational or childish they seem. And I think this will go a very small way to show that even though I did not turn out as they had hoped I would , maybe I am not a lost cause after all.

Today I feel immense gratitude. The next steps in my life could amount to nothing or it could be everything. I know we are not supposed to look outside ourselves for validation but if we were that perfect, yoga would not have existed. Maybe all those hip opening poses helped me get into crow, maybe it opened up my heart so that i could feel more joy, or maybe they helped me release decades of insecurity, self doubt and loneliness which has made me react in such a strong way to something that might be a passing event. 

Who knows? As of right now, I'm going to be showing off my crow to anyone who cares to watch. But if you have read this and if you are wondering if you made the right choices, know that you have. Know that you will know true freedom only from within. And when you truly stop looking for it outside, events will conspire to help you find your strength, your worth, your true heart from the inside.


Monday, December 26, 2011


"Ahimsa (Sanskrit: अहिंसा; IAST: ahiṃsā, Pāli: avihiṃsā) is a term meaning to do no harm (literally: the avoidance of violence – himsa). The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hims – to strike; himsa is injury or harm, a-himsa is the opposite of this, i.e. non harming or nonviolence. " - Wikipedia.

'Ahimsa' or 'non - violence' immediately draws images of Gandhi and MLK to mind. But there is a notion that non-violence implies 'non-reaction' or 'non-doing'. The truth is, I cannot think of another human trait which involves more control and empathy. To face someone who has wronged you, to look beyond their flaws, to forgive them and not give in to our human nature to whoop ass; that seems like a lot of 'doing' to me. Non violence is also not restricted to physical violence. Every time you have felt jealousy, anger or pleasure at someone's misfortune; you have practiced violence in your heart.

It is easy to give in to our urges and vices. It takes a stronger person to say, 'Maybe my body does not want to do a headstand or the scorpion pose, and that is just fine'. It takes a stronger person, when slapped, to show his other cheek. In that one moment of ahimsa, you have conquered all fear, and you know your true strength. When you practice ahimsa on your mat, towards your own body and mind, you will manifest it in the world. Which is what makes yoga so special because no matter how many poses you can do or how calm you seem, if you are filled with anger and hate, you have understood nothing.

Practicing Ahimsa does not mean being apolitical or indifferent. It means, you quiet the demons, listen to logic, forgive ignorance and stay strong.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hippie Yogi

"People who do yoga seem so calm and laid back all the time!"  This was said to me by someone who said he hoped to be like me. I'm thinking, 'Too bad Emre doesnt feel the same way!'
"You have the most soothing voice! I could listen to you all day" and I'm thinking, "Too bad Emre doesnt feel the same way!"

There is this romantic notion of a yogi; peaceful, tree hugging, holding a bunny, biting on raw broccoli....I hate to burst your bubble, but this does not exist. Of course, i have hugged trees and I have two bunnies and I love broccoli, but I can be one mean bitch.

So why do people who practice yoga 'seem' this way. Its really simple. Being peaceful does not mean being emotionless or being detached. If anything, yoga has made me more expressive. Being a yogi means accepting what comes your way and deciding to move on. Deciding to trust that everything will work out, and that there is a reason for all that happens. Being a yogi means accepting your strengths and limitations and being happy for all the imperfections that make the perfect you.

Here's to you, you perfect yogi!


Nowhere to Hide

Lately I find myself incapable of bullshit. I was never a very expressive person. I am emotional, but you would never see me cry or lose control. I always had a straight face, a pleasant smile, and polite conversation.  But once you start doing yoga, there is nowhere to hide. You are forced to face your true self and if you dont accept who you are, you will 'fall' out of the pose, whether its on your mat or in your life.

Once you start to practice yoga, all walls fall, all shadows disappear and all whispers go quiet. You hear your breath, you know your strength, you accept your weakness and this is who you were meant to be all along. Old friends tell me i seem 'calm' , 'settled', 'happy'. I am all of those things. Yoga reintroduced me to myself and I finally feel free.