"Making it" as a ballet dancer starts with an audition. There are a hundred girls in a studio that all look the same, and our only goal is to get the directors attention. My entire time training as a ballet dancer was spent looking for the approval of my instructors. I constantly looked at them to see if they liked my dancing, my technique, but most of all me. But, I never took the time to think about myself. What did I think? Did I appreciate my art? Did I love and encourage the girl I saw in the mirror? The answer was almost always a no.
Two years ago I found something that made me look to myself. Made me draw my attention to the deepest parts of my soul. Something that called me to raise my vibration. I found yoga. And yoga is a tool that has helped me ultimately to find myself.
One thing that plagues many women and men, not just in the dance world, is insecurities in their appearance. In their bodies. I always looked in the mirror at the studio 6 hours a day thinking, "I'm not skinny enough to be a ballerina. Those girls in New York have entirely different bodies than mine." And no matter how many people told me I had lost weight or looked skinny I never had confidence that would last. Then, I started practicing yoga. Something exquisite about yoga is its ability to loosen barriers that you have created for yourself. Think you're not skinny enough? Try yoga. Believe that you're not strong enough? Try yoga. If you feel like you have too many problems to count on your fingers and toes, step on your mat. What happened to me almost instantly was this: I was in warrior II, and I realized that my thighs were grounding me and holding me in this pose. The thighs that I for so long pinched and pulled while hating my body were strong and powerful and had a purpose. That ignited a fire in me that could not be extinguished.
So, with the help of yoga, I set out on a quest to find self-love. What does that look like? It's different for everyone. For me, it involved turning away from what has been so ingrained in me. No longer did I want to push through pain when I knew my body was trying to tell me something. No longer did I hate the only body I had. As I began to daily flow through the asanas, I saw that my body and my soul had grace, power, and voice. I found joy in the present moment.
Just because a person meditates or practices yoga doesn't mean bad things don't happen to them. Old insecurities or thoughts still creep into my head, but yoga and prānāyāma (breath work) have taught me to move beyond that, and to my higher call. With these tools, anyone can find peace through even their hardest moments. The Sanskrit word Sukha translates to ease or bliss. That is something yoga has brought me time and time again. I can have a thousand things buzzing around my worried head. Then, I practice and find sukha. Ease. Bliss.
The Yoga Sutra describes the flow of prāna (our life force energy that flows through the body) with this image:
If a farmer wants to water his terraced fields, he does not have to carry the water in buckets to the various parts of his fields; he has only to open the retaining wall at the top. If he has laid out his terraces well and nothing locks the flow of the water, it will be able to reach the last field and the furthest blade of grass without help from the farmer.
In prānāyāma, we work with the breath to remove blockages in the body. The prāna, following the breath, flows by itself into the cleared spaces. Breath is the tool to allow prāna to flow through the body.
I relax. I let go. My life is in perfect flow.
Katie has just completed her 200 hours of yoga training with Wanderlust Yoga here in Austin and will now be teaching yoga to those around her. To see her transform in this process of training and moving to new things in her life has been mesmerizing for me. Katie has a sense of peace. She is excited for what is to come which is truly beautiful. We can all get caught up in our habits of life. We become narrowminded in what we do that we push through when we know that what we are doing is not fulfilling. What Katie is doing takes courage and great bravery. I hope that you are inspired by her story. Maybe take a yoga class. Maybe go to the art museum. Where is your flow? Find yourself.
I believe everyone has a voice and a story to tell. If you want to share your story, contact me so we can talk about sharing your life.