Good Grief

I’m writing this, dear one, for us—those who are on our knees in the bottom of a very dark well.

 

To love, to truly love, means we are vulnerable to feelings. Even worse, feeling many of them at one time. I am grieving something I thought always would be part of my life every week. My logic is saying I have no right to grieve because I made a choice to release several weekly yoga classes. Classes I truly love teaching with every ounce of love that is in my body because I love yoga that much and I love you that much. Luckily I realize my brain and my heart are two different entities with very different roles. This is a moment to suspend judgment and logic. This is a moment to dwell in curiosity and mystery.

 

This past Friday’s Savasana poem was Ada Limon’s “Downhearted”. It starts: “Six horses died in a tractor-trailer fire. / There. That’s the hard part. I wanted / to tell you straight away so we could / grieve together.” I have read this poem, one of my all-time favorites, to yoga AND writing classes what easily could be hundreds of times without ever cracking. But on Friday it broke my heart into pieces and my face into tears. Shame for being sensitive, for crying, was my go-to response, but I was inspired by Brene Brown’s Rising Strong to release the shame and invite curiosity. And I found a lifelong habit waiting there for me—being “together” in times of suffering, in times of grief. When people are hurting, “I get it together. I keep it together. I do whatever it takes so no one breaks.” For the first time in my life, I am giving myself permission to not have it together. Instead I give myself permission to be vulnerable, “to tell you straight away”, and to grieve with you, us together in this mysterious black hole. You are not alone. We are not alone. We are together.

 

And we are going to get through this.

 

I am here. I am writing. I am still studying yoga. I am still pursuing my 500 RYT. I am still practicing yoga daily. I am still teaching yoga. I am still part of our yoga community. I am no longer teaching at Movementality. That’s the only change. But that one thing in a list of very awesome things overcomes our hearts with sadness. Let’s have the courage to name it and feel it. Together. But also let’s look at what’s coming.

 

In April, National Poetry Month, I will be teaching a Yoga class while Dan reads our favorite poems. Summer Yoga at Schooner Farms is on deck. And more exciting classes and workshops are being planned. We have a future together. We will be okay.

 

Dear one, I get it. This is a big change in the weekly patterns that have been a stable part of our lives for the last five years together. We are allowed to grieve this loss, even in the face of hope and excitement. In fact, if we don’t grieve, we won’t heal, which means we might carry around some heavy baggage and its unwieldy cronies.

 

Our yoga practice gently reminds us to embrace the light and draw closer to our highest selves; to do that, we must feel it ALL. As spiritual writer Mark Nepo says, we must sit, stay, heal.

I am sitting on my mat. Surround sound silence except for the dog’s snore. I feel the impulses tantrum, banshee screaming with intermittences of tonsils-exposed piercing silences. Again and again, I choose love by being present and feeling what the present moment offers. I could get up, but I stay and feel it all. I feel the grief and the hope.

We are going to be okay. Together.

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This Is NOT a Good-bye...

 comic I drew of myself answering a calling from the highest self.

comic I drew of myself answering a calling from the highest self.

As I write this, the dark winter night sky is dawning into a bluish grey. Outside my window, leaf piles are flecked with white from the remaining snow of this week’s weather. Inside my little room, the props from this morning’s practice are neatly stacked next to my green mat and old Bleu dog is loudly snoring from his sheet-covered chair. Nope, that’s a chorus of three boys snoring peacefully in their dreamlands while I sip tea and tap out these words to you, dearest.
 
I live for these moments—early morning practice, time for yoga and writing, a space where I feel completely balanced and completely me.
 
If memory serves me well, there are two things that have journeyed with me through this life: Legs-up Pose and Writing. When I was a kid I literally would watch TV with my legs resting up the TV stand. And when I tired of music videos or Dallas drama, I would retreat to my room where I wrote and illustrated books. Sometimes I would be so immersed in that magical moment of creation I had no clue my stepmom was screaming her head off for me to set the table until my brother would pound on the door nananana-ing that I was in biiiiigggggg trouble.
 
Yoga and writing have been two of my life callings. I earned my MFA in Creative Writing long ago. But I stopped seriously writing regularly years ago. Mostly because of fear, doubt, self-judgment, judgment from others, jealousy—all these reasons that trapped my six-year-old dreamer and maker in a well so deep there was no joy or light in the art any longer. At that point, yoga was around, like someone who shows up at all the same parties, and I turned it then and my life is forever changed.
 
My yoga mat became my safe space of expression, and when I answered the calling to be a yoga teacher, every single yoga lesson became a poem for you. Every sequence a line unfolding layers of poses, of words bringing us closer to each other, closer to our highest selves. The practice of asana, the teaching of asana, to me, is a metaphor for the spiritual work of yoga; my love, I offer the metaphors and it is my deepest hope you find whatever message you need tucked there way beyond your hamstrings in Supta Padangusthasana. My favorite gift of yoga is that it isn’t dyadic or direct; it’s a process of progress, of learning, of unlearning, of trusting to let go, and letting go. What yoga unveils to me is different from what it whispers to you. My only job as a teacher is to turn on the tube and open the channel.
 
As you know, I take my calling to teach yoga seriously. It is my responsibility to talk the talk AND walk the walk. My daily personal practice is Research and Development. In so many ways becoming a teacher has given me the opportunity to be my own best student—something I am deeply grateful for. You know Francois, my teacher, spends much of his year in France or New York, not exactly a mile down the road, so I've had to learn to be a dedicated student on my own and from that dedication is all I share with you. Being a teacher has given me the gift of YOU, love.  Seeing your practice blossom, change, move like Spinal Waves inspires me to be the best teacher and step on my mat every day where I see my own practice grow, change, move. It’s on my mat I hear my callings—what I have to do to live in harmony in this world, this body, this life.

I have been called back to writing, dear one. After a long, painful break from something I am meant to do in this world. After hours on my mat of tantrums, progress, regression, and healing. After ignoring call after call. After receiving countless voicemails through mentors and messy messages from learning experiences. I must answer this call.
 
Wildcard on December 15 will be my last class at Movementality. I am stepping away from teaching weekly at there to spend my mornings, the most creative time of my day, on my mat and with my words. I must start writing again. I have several writing projects—comic poems, a graphic novel, essays on yoga and more—that deserve my full attention and what a perfect time than the new year to begin!
 
My angel, may I please take a moment to remind you, you will be okay.
 
Remember, your practice is yours and yours alone. You have worked hard to develop your daily home practice in addition to classes with me. This time of change and challenge is where you will find your inner yoga teacher and where your practice will flourish. You know how to get on mat and get the job done; you've learned that from years of study in my classes. NOW JUST FUCKING DO IT. And if you need to print that and tape it to your mat so you can hear my voice, then do it.
 
I am going to continue emailing monthly yoga musings with sequence ideas, book recommendationsplaylists, doodles, and more. One of my goals as a writer is to write the yoga experience. We are going to do that together. Right here. That’s pretty awesome.
 
Also, I am available for private sessions. If you want one, please email me. A monthly one-hour session can give you something to chew on for weeks.
 
And there’s the studio. To experience other teachers’ classes is a powerful gift.
 
Sweetpea, I’m not retiring from teaching yoga. I’m not giving up you. I’m just taking time away from teaching weekly group classes at Movementality to honor a calling in my life. We are all going to survive, adapt to changes, and unlock new treasures in our practices and lives. It is my highest intention that we join together in joy, hope, and love, and that we practice our little hearts out the next two weeks together. Let's celebrate us and all the work we've done together! 
 
The morning light is electric now, even as a few snowflakes float down. And I hear the boys stirring. I am so grateful to have spent this morning with you, here on the page. I love you so much. THANK YOU for always supporting me and for putting so much faith and trust in me. It’s because of all I learned from you that I am finally able to find the courage to pick up the pen and write with the joy of my five-year-old self. Namaste.

Yoga is a Safe Space

Lately I find myself in contemplation--a lot. I feel confused and frustrated every time I read a news feed. How can I stay informed while maintaining some shred of hope in humanity? Teaching--yoga, writing, literature--has been my solstice. Every time I step in a classroom or studio space, I feel gratitude for the reciprocal exchange of learning. In this exchange, I discover hope again and again. 

Now more than ever, we need to allow ourselves to find hope and light, even in the darkest of places. We need to be active participants on our mats and in our lives. Remember, yoga truly begins when we step off of our mats. What happens on the mat is only practice. And the practice builds our courage, strength, and compassion. 

Though it may be challenging, it is our responsibility as active participants to uphold expectations and values that align with our highest selves and most compassionate hearts. If ever you feel unsafe or witness someone else feeling unsafe because of the behavior of someone in a yoga class, a small business, a classroom, anywhere, I beg you to unlock the fear to find the strength you foster in your yoga practice and speak up.

We have a human right to live our lives in peace and safety. As an educator, it is my responsibility to maintain a safe space for learning. Please know that I will uphold the codes of conduct in class and expect each person in class to do the same. If you ever feel unsafe, please let me and the studio owners/administrators know immediately so we can restore peace. As obvious as this may seem, it's not obvious. I want to be very clear: bad behavior and mistreatment of others is not tolerated in my classes. Period. My classes are a place of lightness, hope, humor, and inquiry for self and public good. Please review my yoga class policies for more information.

I love you all dearly. I take our safety and happiness very seriously. I have your back. I am on your team. Onward we go with forgiving hearts, kind words, and steady courage.