I have spent many days in my life escaping. Escaping the feelings of hurt or pain by drinking or smoking too much. Escaping feelings of loneliness by putting on a big show. Escaping feelings of inadequacy by hustling and working too much. Escaping feelings of being unlovable by loving others instead of myself. Escaping one relationship for another, escaping one community for another, escaping who I am.
When I first walked through the doors of Yoga to The People, I was escaping my feelings of failure within the Martha Graham Company. Tucked in the back row by the music system, with 72 other sweaty bodies, a man with long hair and a commanding voice said, “trust your body, listen to your body, nobody knows your body like you do, you have nothing to prove, you as-you-are are good enough, you are enough.” I remember lying in savasana, heart beating in my chest with tears streaming down my face, feeling that I had found what I had lost in Graham. I had found what I had lost in myself and I had found my way home. I loved the intentions, the mantra and the motto behind YTTP. I was sold; this is what I had been missing in life. The language in the classes, the feeling of the movement, and the feeling that there does not need be a “right” way to move, freed me in a way I was desperate for and I fell in love.
I did my yoga teacher training at Yoga to the People and went on to manage 6 of their different studios from New York to California. I led 30+ teacher trainings, and found myself in the “inner” circle of Management. I subscribed 24-7 to the ethos of the company for 6 years straight. Within those 6 years, trusting oneself became trusting the founder Greg, listening to your body became listening to Lindsey (2nd in command). Every day, we had to prove our love, prove our commitment, prove how much we cared. We did this by cleaning toilets daily, teaching 22 classes weekly, and giving everything to the mission. I had been freed by YTTP, and so I gave myself over to it freely.
I did this until I realized (the hard way) that I had lost myself. I’d lost the person and the artist that I was, and all that was left was fear. I had escaped the hurt and the hard by escaping into a cult. I had to escape from my escape. And did; first to India, then to Germany, to France, and finally, to Brooklyn. I had to escape, erase, and forget all that I had learned and all that I loved from YTTP, nothing could be kept, not even the good stuff. I erased things from my vocabulary like “listen to your body, it doesn’t matter what it looks like, take breaks when you need, and keep going when you can.” Yoga, like dance, became about what was right, what was the peak pose and the correct alignment; I hid behind perfectionism again. As I practiced this dogma, it got stronger, and I got further away from what I first initially loved about the yoga and what initially healed me.
Until I signed up for my prenatal teacher training and taught classes to beautiful, pregnant bodies. I heard words from an old familiar tongue… “listen to your body, trust your body, you have choices.” Words like, “I make the suggestions and you make the decisions, you are “da boss,” nobody knows your body like you do.” And there it was; all that I tried to escape from YttP, all the things that I loved about YttP, came back, full circle, just repackaged in a way that I was ready to feel and hear.
As Eve Ensler states, “Maybe what I try to get rid of is the goodest part of me.” Maybe the pieces of ourselves that we try to tuck away by drinking or shopping or working, are the best parts of us. Maybe, instead of stepping on the mat to run and hide, to perfect and realign – we step on the mat to feel our fears, our pain, our losses, our broken bones and homes and heartbreak and feel it all so that we can heal. Oprah says it best, “If ya wanna heal, ya gotta feel.”
Feel Your Feelings
When we numb the hurt, we numb the joy.
We can’t pick and choose our feelings. However, we can watch them come up and we can wonder- Where is it coming from? What does it have to teach us? Can I hold the pain like I hold the pleasure? Can I sit with myself in the hard?
Once the feelings are felt, the feelings have an opportunity to heal.
Inspiration Station ✨