A quote

“I was raised to believe that excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism. And that’s how I operate my life.”

Oprah Winfrey

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Clarity

People, including myself, go to yoga to clear their minds, work their bodies, etc.  But what if one needed a break from staring clarity in the face?  Is there even such a thing?  What if one suddenly just got sick of this never-ending search for unity with oneself, yoga meaning union and all?

So I said f**k it, and started skipped my regular after-work classes.  Gone were the days of my 5-6x/week practice, replaced by the bare minimum I could do without my body or mind rebelling too much against me.

I avoided hard teachers, positioned myself in the coolest part of the room, and sat out postures when I didn’t need to.  And more often than my sitting out, I checked out.  On the outside, I was a model student, doing the postures, breathing, being still.  But inside, I was somewhere else.  Classes would go by and I would forget that I was even in there.  I was coasting by.

I ate junk food, drank plenty of wine, and slept very late, sometimes barely.  I watched a lot of tv shows and went out whenever I could.  I thought too much but laughed too little and I was barely present in my conversations. Then my body started changing.  I noticed I was getting weaker by the day.  I was achy and stiff.  My skin started looking dull and tired, dark circles under my eyes.  Work that was tolerable with the help of yoga became unbearable and tedious.  Then, my headaches came back – for five straight days.  The cherry on top was a massive migraine in the middle of teaching class, barely able to say the dialogue.  (Thanks to Bikram’s intense teacher training, I was able to go on autopilot and finish the class properly despite a sledgehammer banging against my brains.)

Manhattan Beach - boardwalk

Manhattan Beach,
taken during Teacher Training Fall 2011

That was my wake-up call. I knew then that it was time to go back.

While I didn’t seek the more intense classes/teachers I usually go for, I no longer skipped out.  And because I didn’t skip out, it finally came to me in the middle of triangle pose why I was avoiding the yoga.  And not surprisingly, it had nothing to do with my practice.  I was avoiding something else in my life and yoga made me face it.

I guess we can run away from clarity all we want, but it’ll eventually stare at us in the face. So here I am, at the bottom of the mountain ready for another climb, just like I’ve done many times before.

The prodigal daughter has returned…again.

In silence

I’ve become a woman of little words lately. In person, in writing, and every way in between. Even in yoga, as I teach my usual class early in the morning, the savasanas in between have become complete utter silence. Not that I’ve said much before, but now, I can feel the silence.

And with silence, I have noticed the less I want to be heard, to be noticed, to be the best, to be the centre of things. In turn, the pressures of comparing myself to others have eased, allowing myself to grow in my own pace and humming to the tune of my own drums. And the less I say, the better I feel.

While I am not immune, fear of loneliness when on my own is also something I have stopped entertaining long ago. Sure it is never easy after a break-up or a loss, but over time, my ability to stand alone only gets stronger.

Perhaps it’s circumstance, or perhaps it’s part of growing up that I’ve become a quieter version of myself.

Slowly fading away is the need to be surrounded, moving away from the social butterfly that I never really was. Some have questioned this, mistaking my reserved nature with sadness or coldness. Even anger.

But my silence is far from misery. It is me becoming comfortable in my skin. It is me finding what I need within myself instead of looking elsewhere.

It is my search for peace.

Finding passion

The time between now and my last post hung in the air. Each day, the desire to compose words gets heavier and heavier. Even though I struggle to start, writing and re-writing even the simplest of lines, I am never in regret when I finish my writing.

My Bikram practice is similar. There are days, lately more often than not, where I fight with each posture, angry at my body when I should be more patient. Then angry at myself because I should know better. But never a regret when I finish my class.

And with cooking and baking, despite the failures of a sunken cake or a burnt dish, I give myself a moment to mourn and then I am onto the next dish. The disasters before me serve merely as reminders of the possibilities that lay ahead. Humility has wonderful gifts.

All these things, what they have in common for me, is that any pains related to them, I accept. I see them as a challenge so I grow and reach beyond what I can see ahead. Ultimately, it only makes me hungry for more. That, to me, is the definition of passion.

Passion, of course, can mean many different things to people. But there is the commonality of passion being a driving force for more. More success, more money, more material things, more education, more strength, more everything – both positives and negatives. Insatiability, some would even say. Like in yoga, we practice and practice for more. More strength, more flexibility, more patience, more peace. Not to be perfect, but to be better versions of ourselves.

But what happens when passion ceases to exists?

It begins to hurt. Menial things become tedious, the lightest tasks become insurmountable, conversations awkwardly uncomfortable because you can only feign interest so long. Then the numbness takes over as you watch the clock tick til the day’s end. In this environment, you can become careless, unrefined.

Then you find yourself impassive.

But because you can only be numb for so long and regardless if you’re ready or not, you will stumble upon a mirror that will show you the road you’ve just passed. Whether that mirror be another person, a loss, even an injury, or plain old self realization, you wouldn’t be able to ignore it because the universe does not pride itself in staying stagnant.

So there you stand in front of the mirror, and you are faced with choices. Do you continue on your path counting the seconds of the clock or search for passion again and choose the road you have not yet travelled?

I’ll let you know which way I’ve chosen when I figure it out. I hope you do too.