By Alee Link
Last month at RFY, we embarked upon a journey toward a huge change. Every April, we have a challenge in honor of the spring, which is a time for planting seeds, blossoming, and growth. This year we decided the theme Metanoia would best serve us and our growing community of beautiful yogis. Metanoia is the journey of changing one's mind, body, and life in order to deepen your spiritual journey. Through this challenge we are encouraging our students to shed fears from the past and worries for the future in order to settle in to the magic of NOW.
It may seem odd that a yoga teacher is inviting you to change, when so often we remind you all of how perfect you ALREADY are and I'm certainly not saying anything less than that. I do believe that you are already perfectly imperfect, and what a gift! This perfect imperfection gives us the constant opportunity to learn, connect, and grow. To me, life would be beyond boring without these moments that encourage us to better ourselves.
My favorite thing about yoga, both on and off that mat, is that the journey never ends. There is always a new pose to explore, always new alignment to test, and always new studies showing the different effects from this practice. Likewise, every time I step on the mat or sit to meditate, I'm taken on a new journey of deep exploration. Through that explorative energy and through my constant study with amazing spiritual teachers, I have discovered the not-so-secret recipe to the ultimate transformation. A transformation for the body, mind, and entire life. Hold on tight because this shift will be huge or bring about great bliss; however, to get there sometimes our old sh*t from the past will come to surface, we will be faced with challenges, and tested beyond belief. But trust me, y'all, IT IS SO WORTH IT!!!
Self Awareness - On the mat, we constantly learn to become aware of our bodies, our energy, our thoughts. The trick is to be an observer. Notice EVERYTHING without judgement. Let your physical tension be what it is. Let your breath be what it is. Let your energy and your emotions be what they are. Every single thing we experience in this life is for a reason. So, first just become aware. Notice. Feel. Observe.
Self-Care - How do you respond to what you feel? Once we practice step 1, we can then respond intelligently. Let's say through step 1, we notice tension in the left side of the lower back. Then through self-care, we begin to breathe into that part of the body, we send healing energy there, we explore yoga poses that will bring us relief. We first acknowledge, then we respond with care instead of ignoring it and popping an Advil to disguise the pain. We DEAL with it and care for it in order to encourage REAL, lasting change. Same goes for unpleasant thoughts or negative emotions: become aware without judgement, then care for them.
Self-Love - Perhaps the hardest step to grasp because let's face it, if I asked you to think about 3 things you don't like about yourself and want to change, you could spitfire those 3 and could probably go on and on... But, if I asked you to do the opposite, it would most likely take you a while to list 3 things you LOVE about yourself. Note this though: If you practice steps 1 and 2 every day, step 3 becomes second nature. We become the observers of our own lives, then we bring care into our lives as needed and THAT is the ultimate expression of self-love. We acknowledge the fact that we love ourselves and respect ourselves enough to care for our bodies, thoughts, emotions, and spirits. When we love ourselves, we believe in ourselves and life becomes this exciting adventure of pure bliss because we are able to let go of those fears and worries that constantly hold us back.
You know that moment as a kid when you were terrified to jump off the high diving board and into the pool? But, then you got up enough courage to go for it... and once you did, you were going back time after time for more. It felt so freeing, liberating, and exciting. Same goes for this recipe... It is scary to face your deepest thoughts. It's even scarier to acknowledge them without judgement, and a lot more scary to care for them, to thank them for the lessons they've delivered, and to invite your security blanket of fear to take a hike. You no longer need it. It has served its purpose. NOW it is time to move on. You know what you have to do! The ultimate transformation awaits!!! Dive on in!