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Our Practice is Patient


by Emily Brown

I have a tendency to forget where I came from. It happens to a lot of us. Life progresses. We change jobs, change ideas, change beliefs until one day we realize we have a whole new story. This is cause for celebration. We can see growth and accept our ever-changing story. But, for me, forgetting where I came from cuts me off from certain turbulent and influential life experiences, and makes it difficult to understand, empathize, and connect.


As a yoga teacher I can feel frustrated and disheartened when I see people using their practice as a way to “do better”, tone-up, burn calories, and push. In conversation with my close friends, I tend to go on tangents about problems with our society, students’ all too obvious disconnect, and the ridiculous proliferation of yoga that “sells.” Mostly, though, I feel a deep sense of failure. I believe that I am failing to give people the right message in class to help them understand the freedom, peace, and safety that our yoga practice offers us. And then, I remember my story.

The first time I rolled out a yoga mat was right in the middle of raging war against my body. It - of course - didn’t look like that to anyone else around me. To them I was “disciplined,” “health conscious,” and “committed”. I exercised daily - NO excuses. I menu-planned and shopped at health food stores meticuliously. I memorized diet dos and don’ts and recited them in my mind as the waitress asked if I’d like dessert. Between all of that and going to school, I met a guy who really liked me, (who would become my husband) and who suggested we go to yoga - something I certainly wouldn’t have made the time for between ab crunches and green health shakes. Like most girls, though, I do crazy things for love. I strapped on my trusty heart rate monitor and headed to class. The heart rate monitor never lies. To me, it was the only way to know what was a waste of time and what wasn’t: calories burned equaled a good use of my time. As you can imagine, I didn’t do much reading or lounging in my PJ’s with a cup of coffee on Saturday mornings. Luckily, they style was Ashtanga. It kept me challenged enough to keep me coming back.

If there is one thing that we can rely on every time we roll out our yoga mat, it is that our practice is patient. Our practice doesn’t sigh, roll its eyes, or give patronizing head nods whenever we “don’t get it.” Our practice is patient, supportive, and seemingly silent. Although it was often my dissatisfaction with my body and general discontentment with myself that brought me to my mat, my practice always gave me a little peace. Even when I came to my mat solely as a way to punish myself, or show up the person next to me, my practice always gave a little expanse. And when I came to my mat and wanted nothing more than to stop feeling, my practice always gave me a little connection. And it went on this way for years until one day I realized my heart rate monitor had made its way into the garage sale box, I didn’t own a scale, and was actually happy being in my body. I spent so much of my life trying to be smaller - afraid to take up space. Now the joy of my practice is in expanding, getting bigger, filling myself, throwing my arms over head and taking a deep breath, as if I were yelling to the world, “THIS IS ME!” I don’t even really know what took place in between. It just happened slowly. Quietly. As if it wasn’t even happening at all.

When I actually take the time to remember where I came from, I am blown away by how patient my practice has been with me. It reminds me to offer that to my students as well: patience, non-judgment, and no pushy philosophy. I have to reconnect with my story to trust that this practice always gives, no matter what. I remember, and then it is easier to let everyone just be. Thankfully, my practice is patient, and thankfully yours is too.


Ecology Center

24 August 2019 - Interior Design & Architecture Magazine

24 August 2019

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