Go to any yoga class and these are the inevitable words you will hear: “the word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj which means ‘to yoke’ or ‘to bind.'” Unification. It is the most basic foundation of yoga practice, and in this modern age of Instagram yogis and yoginis, online classes, apps, and subscription boxes it is the piece of yoga that is most often lost in translation. To truly practice yoga, one must be able to unite their physical asanas to both mental and spiritual asanas. Yoga is not a fitness fad or a way to get a really great butt (although, you totally will) — it is a lifestyle. It’s a mentality.
This afternoon I embark on my trip to Yoga Teacher Training. I’ve thought a lot about what it is I want to get out of this training. Do I want to capitalize on it when I get home, and try my hand at part time yoga teaching? Of course. Do I want to learn to create vinyasas and build strength for poses I could not do before? Absolutely. But what is the end goal? Barring these physical results, if nothing else, what is it I want to get from this Yoga Teacher Training?
I want to wake up.
For months my body has been so tired, and it’s more than just physical exhaustion. My soul is tired. My mind is tired. My eyes are heavy all day everyday, and then it goes even deeper than that. My arms are heavy. My head is heavy. The very energy that sustains the life in my body is heavy. I feel like a great white sail that had once caught the wind, but is now drenched in sea water, toppled over, weighed down and reaching into deep blue.
I think that I am tired because I have nowhere left to run. Running — it’s my MO. I love to run. And I don’t mean jogging (I fucking hate jogging) I mean getting away. Whether its to a new city, a new country, a new job, a new relationship, or just mentally putting up a wall between me and everything else I love to depart. The feeling I get when I’m in an airplane, and I see myself rising rapidly away from home and all the problems that lie on the ground below, it’s almost like a high. No pun intended.
This year has been taxing, and I think I’m beginning to understand why. Through unemployment, and then partial employment, through scratching out an existence, through living paycheck to paycheck with only just enough (if I’m lucky) to buy me one more month of living I am in the process of learning to stay. What do you do when you can’t run? When your feet are cemented to where you are?
You learn to be there. You have to be present, because you can’t afford to be anywhere else. You learn to make do with what you have, and more even to try and be happy with what you have. You learn to cut the unnecessary out. You learn that wishing you were somewhere else, or had something else, will only bring you anxiety and frustration. You learn to let everything go away from you. You learn to walk right up to the edge of nothing, and prepare for it to swallow you whole.
But sometimes you can’t. And that’s where my exhaustion kicks in. I resist the edge of nothing, I don’t want to see it. And so I turn myself away, pull down a veil between me and reality, and I check out. If I can’t run, my brain will run for me. And my nervous system tries all day to put me to sleep, so I’m not awake to deal with what surrounds me. It’s physical. Tangible. My eyes don’t focus the way they should. It’s as if I’m always looking through a mist. My spine doesn’t stay up as straight as it used to. I find myself laying flat on my back on the ground with my palms against my stomach and eyes closed — just because I can’t do anything else.
Through the intensity of two straight weeks of teacher training, I want to learn the tools to lean into challenge, and specifically these challenges of a 20-something that we’re all collectively facing or have faced. I want to know my mind and my spirit and my body so well that I can bring it back from the brink of wherever its standing. I want to wake up again. To see this thing through.
And that, in itself, is unification. Through the physical practice I believe I’ll be able to bring my consciousness back to the front and center. By making that connection between the spiritual realm and the physical realm it is my hope that I’ll gain some answers, some clarity, some peace. My goal is to lift the veil. Open my eyes again. Clear away the mist. Get the sail standing up on its own again.
And so it is, I am leaving this afternoon. The beginning of a journey. Wish me luck.