My Yoga Learning Experience

When I was a new yoga student I was very awkward and overweight. I couldn’t imagine ever being able to do the things the teacher did, but I felt a curiosity about it – there was something that made me keep coming back for more, even though at the same time I felt frustrated. I had the idea that if I could do those things, the binds, headstands, handstands, my life would be better, that I would have arrived. Years later I was able to do these things, and when I reflected on it, I realized that the gradual change in my body had indeed changed me – but not in the ways I had expected.

I still felt the same sense of being at the beginning of something and awareness of what I didn’t know, and  I came to realize over time that the bigger lesson of my yoga would be letting go of expectations, letting go of arriving.

As a matter of fact, I began to discover that not only is it impossible to predict how something will affect me, it is impossible to know the very next thing that’s going to happen in a given moment. When I leave the house in the morning can I really know that I will return there that evening?

This is the essence of trust – of living in the moment, and the best teachers I have had have used surprise, unpredictability, and even asymmetry to offer moments of awakening from expectations.

Opening a yoga teacher training studio has also offered me my own personal path of surprises – there have been unanticipated joys, and also some wild unforeseen circumstances with building the studio, and I am always relearning the importance of being in the moment.

Being in the moment doesn’t mean one doesn’t have goals and work towards them, though. It means we hold our goals loosely, allowing that they may manifest differently than we imagine. The core of the creative process is generating a vision and doing actions aligned with it, and then allowing life to unfold even more richly than we imagined. Trusting that whatever happens is perfect.

I learned to do the binds and handstands that I aspired to when I began to study yoga, but the result was not what I imagined – I could not indeed have imagined it given the limitations of my view at the time. And yet some part of me knew the course to take, and the goal I set was absolutely useful, just not for what I thought it would be – for much more.