I often think of yoga as the great reminder. The practice has a silent, steady way of reminding me that I am alive. I am breathing. I am strong. I am imperfect. I don’t have to fix anything. I can surrender the struggle. I can show up—exactly as I am… I am not alone.
These reminders have turned into a guidebook for living. I am able to approach life as a daily practice, its challenges a wise teacher, its moments of grace an everyday miracle. On my mat, rather than seek out answers or be so eager to arrive at a destination, I have discovered that there is so much valuable information in being present to the process. I have learned how to meet my struggles with compassion, to let go of my need to fix what feels broken and to allow myself to have moments of strength right alongside moments of vulnerability.
For more than half of my life, I have lived with autoimmune diseases. Some have caused me emotional pain, some physical. For a long time, I used to hide that anything was wrong behind a big smile. I thought that if I hid my struggles, my insecurities, and my pain, they might not be quite as powerful. To look at me and my life, you wouldn’t realize that anything was amiss. How skilled I was at hiding my hard. How afraid I was to show my vulnerable.
When I started to practice yoga, something began to shift for me. There would be these moments on my mat, where I realized that maybe it would be possible to integrate the happy, smiling side that I showed to the world with the part of me that struggled, and felt less than, and was in pain. I started to realize that in fact, I might not be so alone in these feelings. I will never forget my first week of teacher training when I realized that everyone has a story. Everyone feels like not enough in some way. Everyone struggles. And, amidst all of the struggle and all of the pain, there is this tremendous, palpable amount of strength. Of resilience and light and connection… and it creates a powerful force when we each allow ourselves to show up authentically and to share generously. When I stopped being so afraid of appearing “less than,” I opened up this door to shine “bigger than” - bigger than myself and my personal story, bigger than my fears and my insecurities. I started to feel at peace with myself, with what my life was about, and what I really stood for. It wasn’t until yoga reminded me that I could be complete and imperfect at the same time, that I was truly able to trust that my life and its unique challenges could have a bigger meaning and a greater impact.
Yoga reminds me that I am already home. For all of these years with autoimmune conditions, I have struggled with my body fighting itself - and yet it is my home, and I have learned to love it fiercely. I have discovered how my body is a fighter, my spirit a warrior. And instead of hiding my pain, or resenting my differences, I have the capacity to love my strong, struggling, imperfect body now.
When I need it most, I tap into my practice and I receive its lessons. I get on my mat and remember that I can hold a Warrior far longer than my mind thought possible. I can balance on my hands and stand on my two feet. I can open my heart and I can breathe. I can flow powerfully and I can pause and be still for a little while. I can show up for myself and I can practice staying present, even through a really hard moment.
I came to yoga without having any idea how much I needed this practice in my life. I showed up without understanding that this practice would change me forever. Every time I practice, I arrive, I breathe, I sweat, I struggle, I surrender, and I remember…
I remember that I don’t have to be so afraid of the unknown.
I remember that I am powerful when I feel weak.
I remember that I can breathe when life knocks the air out of me.
I remember that I am connected when I feel alone.
I remember that I am enough when I feel like I am lacking.
I remember that I can stay when I want to run.
I remember that I can pause when I need to slow down.
I remember that I am not broken, I am complete just as I am.
I practice to remember… that I am alive and I am so blessed to be living this beautifully imperfect life.