It’s official. We have reached the final wind-down of summer. The sun is setting earlier and it is almost dark out as I finish teaching my evening classes now.
For many of us, the fall is a time to start showing up more regularly on our yoga mat, after the travel and excitement of the past months.
Perhaps our bodies are reminding us that they have missed the practice. I can feel this in my own body these days. After traveling a good bit of July and running my month-long teacher training in August, my body is craving the comfort of a solid practice.
I recognize that this time of transition is not just an opportunity to help our bodies ease back into the practice; it is an opportunity to check in with our stories and let go of what isn’t serving us.
As human beings, we have run stories in our head since early childhood. There are times when our stories can literally save our lives, and there are also times when it becomes necessary to let go of what pulls us away from our authentic self.
Perhaps the autumnal form of spring cleaning is this chance to look deeply inside, as we go deeper into the year.
Authenticity is a choice, and our stories begin with this choice.
Brene Brown defines authenticity in a way that really resonates with me: “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”
Have you met your authentic self?
Our authentic self is fortified by learning where our landmarks are: what triggers us, what delights us, and what gives us the most connection with ourselves and those we love.
That is why exploring emotions on the mat can be so powerful. Our mats operate as little laboratories for how we show up in the world. If we can track our reactions in the confines of a 90-minute class on a 72-inch mat, we can start to notice the subtle ways that we react to what life throws at us outside the studio.
As a teacher, I get to observe how students show up on the mat and witness the changes that happen with time and effort. The power of a consistent yoga practice is seeing changes happening right before your eyes. When we are disconnected from our authentic selves, it often appears as nervous or blocked energy, and an unwillingness or inability to stay in the shape. The practice can feel heavy and hard.
Our practice is an avenue to step out of our story, and with time, we are gifted glimmers of our own strength and the knowledge that we are enough. In poses, this often shows up as an element of ease – as we transition from one asana to the next, or as we hold poses for longer periods of time. Suddenly, it seems, your leg doesn’t shake anymore, and you realize you are actually stronger. There is sweetness that fills up the space where the gripping and hardness used to be.
The same is true in relationships. As we start to live our lives from a place of authenticity, our voice doesn’t shake as much when we speak what matters to us. We realize that we are more comfortable in our own truth, and in our own skin.
When we examine our stories, it is helpful to look at how the story works for us as we walk in our world. Does this way of being connect me more deeply with what I care about and who I care about?
And perhaps the biggest question we can ask ourselves is: Does my story serve my spirit?
Our practice gives us the courage to ask these questions, create space to see with more clarity, and to make the changes so that the answer to these questions gets closer and closer to yes.
My hope as a teacher is always to ally with your true spirit and help you use your practice as a guide back home to your authentic self.