Teaching yoga requires a number of skills and responsibilities. Some of the more obvious ones are knowing anatomy, yoga methodology and how to speak publicly. However, a good yoga teacher also knows how to weave words of wisdom in and out of her or his sequencing; sometimes referred to as a "dharma talk." Many yoga instructors are encouraged to offer these positive and thoughtful words for students to keep on the back burner as they move through the poses. Coming up with the right things to say, and how/when/why to say them was a struggle for me in my earlier years. Then it occurred to me that I should speak about my own life experiences, in hopes that my story might plant some relatable seeds on someone else's mat. Below are my top 5 dharma talks of 2016--or in other words, my top 5 words of wisdom that got me through the year:
1. Active Path, Passive Destination.
Earlier in the year I applied for a dream job that required I travel the country in a van for 6 months. I didn't get the job. Sadness settled in, along with the question, "Now what?" This quote reminded me that we don't know, and we're not supposed to know, where we're going to end up. We just have to keep on keeping on in the mean time. Stay actively moving forward, passively let go of whats to come.
2. If You Have to Force it, Leave it.
This applies to everything. Yoga, relationships, diets. We live in a society that tells us the harder we push, the more successful we'll be. Its true, but not true at the same time. If we push too hard, we can lose sight of the big picture. For example, when we force ourselves in yoga poses, we stop breathing, start struggling and forget the reason we showed up in the first place. Give yourselves permission, and a reminder, that its OK to leave things alone... take a break... breathe... clear the mind... and decide if we want to dive back in, or perhaps let things go indefinitely.
3. Accept Whats in Your Mind.
One the keys to having a positive self-image is learning to accept yours thoughts and feelings without judgement, or the need to make sense out of things. Often times we think we have to deny, ignore or push away our thoughts and feelings. Instead, perhaps through yoga or meditation, try to learn to understand them, and gradually learn to either change them or live in harmony with them.
4. If Nothing Changes, then Nothing Changes.
Yoga works as a great example for this one: The minute I got sucked into yoga, I wanted to be able to handstand, "lift up", jump back, float, press, etc. list goes on. However, there have been many, many times that I've stepped on the mat and skipped simple opportunities to work my core and upper body strength. Often times the change we want in our lives requires work. It requires that we get uncomfortable, sweaty, challenged and disciplined. If we're not willing to go there, then nothing changes. And thats true about everything in our lives.
5. "Yes, feel lightly even though you're feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen, and light cope with them."
This line is a part of a longer, beautiful quote by Aldous Huxley. These particular lines stood out to me because I am a deep feeler: I feel happiness and excitement deeply. I feel sadness and heartache deeply. Sometimes, I feel the frustration of my yoga practice deeply. There is nothing wrong with that; but what this quote encourages us to do is to live lightly, despite the things that feel heavy. Don't let it all bring you down.