Really Real Yoga
A little over three years ago I did yoga teacher training. I almost wasn’t allowed the 2-weeks off to go but at the last minute was allowed time off from my job. I was at a job with a horrible commute that was literally sucking the life out of me. I think at the time I thought I could teach a little yoga on the side and who knew, maybe make a full-time job out of it. Then I could quit my job and everything would be better. I knew I had a greater purpose than driving three hours every day, surely. I returned from yoga teacher training and definitely had a lot of ideas of how I could put into motion all the things that I was taught. Two months after I returned, I broke my foot. To say that was a hard time in my life is an understatement. Once I got over the, “why me?” I began to see all the reasons exactly why it was me. I truly believe I needed to learn more about patience and “let go”, that things will happen in their due time. While I wasn’t able to physically practice the yoga postures I began to focus on the pranayama (breathing) and the yoga sutras (mantras). I think there was one day that I must have listened to MC Yogi’s song, “Breath Control” over 100 times - “Inhalation, inspiration, take a deep breath, increase the vibration, Exhalation, Exultation, send a bright light into creation, breathe in, breathe out, release the stress just let it all out. Receive an inspiration with every inhalation.” Just breathing helped me in the following months of healing and rehab. My yoga teacher training was intense because it was in a short period of time and there was SO much to learn. Coming back from training I’m sure I was on a natural high and felt like I could do anything. It’s one thing to have the head knowledge but it’s another thing to put that knowledge into motion/practice. During the next six months is when I really truly understood my yoga teacher’s mantra – #Really Real Yoga. What is Really Real Yoga you ask? It’s emphasized in some of the yoga sutras, these four in particular:
Progress in the Present Moment – 1.1 Now, the teachings of yoga, the steps that allow one to progress.
Quiet the Mind – 1.2 Yoga is the ability to direct and focus mental activity and the ability to still the turning of thought.
See What is Really Real – 1.3 With attainment of a focused mind, the inner being stands in its true identity observing the world.
Understand What Isn’t Real – 1.4 Otherwise, we identify with the turning of thought and the misperceptions of the mind.
My explanation won’t do it justice. For the full explanation from Marianne Wells, my yoga teacher:
This is my interpretation/application of Really Real Yoga. It’s what I mentioned earlier, I knew I had a greater purpose. Sure, I needed to stay present at my job (with the long commute) but I also knew that I couldn’t stay at a job where I was just “going through the motions”. I didn’t have to think too much about what I was doing at my job. I could wing it and get by. I stayed at my job for almost 2 more years and Really Real Yoga is what helped me through those two years. I decided in that moment of healing (from my foot) that I would be as mindful day to day as I could. I would teach with intention (not that I hadn’t before, but now more than ever I would teach with meaning). And lastly I decided to be aware of all that was going on around me – I literally was driving daily to the Everglades. 20 miles of my commute was on Snake Road and those 20 miles were the most treacherous. The minute I decided to be mindful and aware of my surroundings, I began to appreciate Snake Road. Here’s one of the pictures I actually stopped to take (where I’d normally speed so fast just to get off of Snake Road):
After two years of searching for a job I was able to get a job that I definitely “do what I love and love what I do”. I have learned so much in this last year and still have more to learn.
This past week on Instagram there was an “Instagram inspiration” that my yoga teacher and another sponsor were doing. I’ve never done one of the IG “challenges” and must admit they seem overwhelming to me. This one was different. It was taking all of the “Really Real Yoga” concepts with the hope to inspire others in the yoga community. Inspire and show that yoga is so much more than just the Asanas. The challenge for me is always to stay present and focused, to stay calm and continue to open my mind. I don’t ever want to just go through the motions again. Here’s how I apply “Really Real Yoga” in my daily life:
Breathe – Every day at work at lunch time I sit and just breathe. Some days it’s two minutes and some days it’s 10 minutes. Breathing helps me reset and reconnect. When my mind is focused on all that lies before me for the rest of the day, I focus on nothing else but just breathing. Mid-day recharge. “Before you can breathe to learn, you must learn to breathe.”
3 years ago I broke my foot. I was literally stopped in my tracks and felt like I couldn’t MOVE. Little did I know all that I had in store to learn during the following six months. Injuries teach you a lot. I now can appreciate being able to move daily. I’ve slowed down and am more mindful with each movement I do make. And I definitely remind everyone around me never to run in the rain in flip flops (you won’t get there ANY quicker!) “It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” ~Confucius~
Meditation– Meditation sharpens our concentration, our power of thought, and allows personal transformation. I like to use the quote that Dan Harris says about meditation when I describe it, “It’s like a bicep curl for the brain.” Meditation for me isn’t easy. My mind is always wandering. I simply acknowledge that my mind has wandered and begin again. It’s a bicep curl – strengthening each and every time. Some days are easier than others. The key for me has been consistency.
Food– As a dietitian I teach variety, balance, and moderation. I try and teach people that a “diet” is simply the food that they’re eating. And I always use the Ayurvedic proverb in my teaching: “When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”
Rest/Sleep– “Sleep is the most underrated health habit.” Cheating your body out of the R & R it needs can make you more prone to illness, stress, traffic accidents, and weight gain. My Fitbit monitors my sleep patterns. They’ve even now added where I can make a goal for how much sleep I‘ll obtain. I’ve started to meditate now before bed to try and help and a few yoga poses to help also.
Love – I always tell my nephews that “I love them to the moon and back, to infinity and beyond forever and ever!” When they were younger they just thought it was a funny quote. But as they are getting older they understand how deep my love for them is.
Really Real Yoga –
My yoga teacher uses this mantra and recites it often. It helps you understand what Really Real Yoga is and incorporate it into your daily life.
“If my heart could do my thinking, and my head could truly feel, then I would know what is really real.”
Yoga teacher training forever changed my life (and continues to change me.) I often used to think that yoga came into my life at just the right moment. I didn’t choose yoga, yoga chose me. I found a renewed faith in myself. I began to settle into myself and as I began to settle I began to see that peace is the way. I hope that from today’s post you can find a piece of inspiration from this concept of Really Real Yoga – whether it’s to deepen your practice or whether it simply has allowed you to see what “living the yoga lifestyle” really means.