As I lay in Savasana the other day, a Pema Chodron teaching I heard over three years ago flitted into my mind and I was reminded of the most important skill yoga has taught me: How to love myself.
Pema recalled a meeting between the Dalai Lama and some western teachers. One woman spoke up about how westerners take these teachings and use them against themselves. Instead of feeling liberated, they feel as though they can’t live up. When the Dalai Lama didn’t understand, he asked the room at large if they understood. Unanimously they all understood.
It seems in America that a majority of us have this filter. We live from a place of guilt and shame to varying degrees of self-hatred. I won’t go into any reasoning here.
Finding my way back to a place of self love didn’t happen at first asana though. There was the honeymoon phase where just moving my body was like sweet relief. But after a while I started using yoga against myself. I was hard on myself for not practicing enough or hard enough.
Finally I hit my yoga rock bottom. When I woke up each day, a sense of foreboding crept in. My routine involved waking up before sunrise to meditate, practice pranayama, and complete the Ashtanaga primary series. These years of tuning in was very special in many ways, and I had to experience them, but my practice turned into a ball and chain. I was not excited to get out of bed for the 4+ hours, which lay ahead.
Everybody has their own path and limits, but I needed a change. Shortly after this realization I met yoga teacher Mary Kate Murray (a dear friend and inspiring woman!) I wasn’t familiar with Anusara, but the practice was so uplifting and playful compared to my somber mornings all alone.
John Friend (founder of Anusara) did an amazing thing. Okay, don’t stop reading— John did some crazy, shady shit… But he’s human. I mean Bill Clinton had an affair and all of a sudden we are looking back on his presidency as some golden age… Anyway, what I’m trying to say is he took these ancient, valuable teachings and he made them accessible to the western mind and modern day practitioner.
So, whether your new to yoga or not, just remember: Your already perfect just the way you are and your exactly where you should be. Keep practicing—from a place of self love! And the world will reflect your bliss back upon you.