Friday, 30 November 2018

Yoga for Life

When I began my yoga journey nearly 20 years ago, I was searching – searching for meaning and for that which is greater than our individual selves.  I read plenty of books on yoga and spirituality and I was naturally led to the practice of asana.  Over the years as a student and, more recently, as a teacher trainee, I have come to understand that yoga is a path that we embark on for life.  There are several ways that “life” is central to the yoga journey:

1. Prana – otherwise known as energy or life force – is an important part of the practice of yoga.  Moving the body into poses and focusing on the breath opens up blocked pathways so energy can flow freely.  Breath is life and bringing our attention to our breath allows us to feel this energy in the body and to be in the present moment, which is where life happens.

2. Quality of life – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  There are countless benefits of moving the body into yoga poses and using the breath to move energy – a key one is to deepen body awareness.  We spend so much time swept up in our thoughts and yoga helps us to move out of the mind and into the body.  Through asana, we also learn about our own bodies and where the habits, tightness or weakness and energy blocks exist.  We also increase our capacity for strength and flexibility and finding balance between the two.  In addition, asana practice is a form of moving meditation.  Training in noticing what the mind is doing and focusing on the present moment can improve mental and emotional health.  Further, yoga is a journey inward toward the wise Self.  Over time, we learn about our mental habits including reactivity and where we grip or resist. Opening ourselves to this awareness helps to cultivate the four limitless qualities – compassion, loving-kindness, equanimity and joy – for others and ourselves. 

3. Yoga over the life course – yoga is a path that can be enjoyed from early childhood to old age. Children love moving their bodies – I see the joy in my toddler’s face when she moves into a pose. Children and adolescents can benefit from increased body awareness (and acceptance) and cultivate mindfulness and self-regulation.  Throughout adulthood, we keep moving our bodies (and appreciating the benefit of props!), deepening our awareness and undoing the habits we have developed over the decades. It is never too late to start. In addition, yoga is beneficial through all phases of life.  I have personally found yoga to be very helpful through grief, pregnancy and other periods of transition.

4. Student for life – we are always a student of yoga on our journey – there is always more to learn!  As a new yoga teacher, I find my own practice is greatly enhanced by going through teacher training.  In addition, I take my experiences as a student into my role as a teacher and find that sharing my journey helps to connect with students as they travel their own path.

The Teacher Training Program at Yoga Centre Winnipeg is a wonderful way to prepare for teaching others yoga and to deepen your own practice.  As Jan said in class recently, rather than thinking of yoga as a practice, we do yoga and we live yoga. Yoga is for life.  

Brenda C.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

“Within the harmony of body and mind lies the secret of health.”

      “ Very  few people know what real health is because most are occupied with killing themselves slowly… the body must be an intimate relationship with the mind”     Albert  Szent –Gyogi.

“ Yoga for Health” – a book that caught my attention as I was walking around a bookstore back home 25 years ago. I kept that book  and always carry it with me wherever I go.

     Year 1997, I signed up for 10 classes of  Beginner level  when it was offered at my workplace. My experience was great and  I loved it since then. The  results were positive and noticeable physically, emotionally and mentally.

     It was an on and off relationship with my mat until the morning of 2013. I woke up realizing that my vision was impaired on my right eye. All that I could see was an intense white light, as if the sun was reflecting the snow falling from the sky. I was referred to an eye specialist immediately and was diagnosed with acute central serous retinopathy. There was a chance of retinal detachment which can cause blindness and surgery was a possibility. The cause is believed to be exacerbated by STRESS. His advice was to avoid stress. I almost laughed.  How did it happen? I thought I was doing well- regular exercise, hot yoga, work, family, chores, etc.. What did I miss?

     I started to attend yoga classes as often as I could. I was followed for a year and my vision started to get better, thank God. The scar is still there and there’s a chance of re occurrence especially in stressful situations.

     Year 2016, I registered for Teacher Training. My goal is mainly for health reasons.  I want to learn the techniques so I can impart them on to my children. Teacher Training definitely deepens my practice. I begin to understand that yoga is not just doing and perfecting those poses, it is an integration of mind and body.  I believe that giving our body at least a 15 minute break daily from everyday stressors will lower the risk of contracting a disease. Allowing our body to relax and rejuvenate regularly will keep our immune system strong. Being mindful of what and how we feed our body will make a significant effect on how we feel. Although our head is anatomically attached to our body, there are times that we lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling.  Being aware of how the body feels during yoga class as well as outside of the class is necessary to achieve a better understanding of ourselves. Paying more attention to our own thoughts and feelings will improve our wellbeing , mentally and physically.

     I am so thankful for this wonderful experience at the Yoga Centre Winnipeg Teacher Training Program. The encouragement, advice, and support that were given to us by our instructors at the Yoga Centre were amazing. The people I have met at the centre are all incredible and awesome.    
                                                               Marites L.
     “Within the harmony of body and mind lies the secret of health.”

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

The YCW’s Teacher Training Program is Worth a Look

Are you ready to take your yoga practice to another level? If yes, no, maybe, you might be wondering what “another level” might look like. So, what programs are available? Some people sign up for month-long yoga immersions: these events are located far from home and can be gruelling experiences (and expensive and disruptive to family life). If you’re inclined to a program here in Winnipeg, that recognizes yoga as a process, not an event, then the Yoga Centre Winnipeg’s teacher training program might be worth a look.

Yoga is a process… not an event

Not sure you want to teach yoga? Understandable! I’m at the halfway point of the two-year program and I’m still deciding about whether I’ll teach. What I do know, is the YCW’s teacher training program is enriching my practice.  And as I grow in my understanding of the art and science of yoga, I’m freeing what is already within – joy, compassion, self knowledge.
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built. ~ Rumi

Now that you know the YCW’s teacher training program is available, look at the details on

Katherine Johnson

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

the Yoga Journey

I have been doing yoga for a few years now, and I can definitely say that committing to yoga means committing to a relationship. One relationship with yourself, and eventually one with the rest of the world. Yoga is exactly how I perceive the world to be: limitless. There is no limit when it comes to where you take yourself within yoga - the opportunities, lessons and growth are constant as well as endless. You are able to test yourself, to open your mind, and to challenge your body all at your own pace.

What is even better, is the alignment involved when you begin to practice frequently. This alignment exists not only physically, but mentally as well as emotionally. It truly brings you back to what really matters, and the growing awareness is undeniable. Even if that means going through a few (or more than a few) rough patches to get there.

Now, all of this may sound interesting yet vague, but yoga can be a bit unexplainable from one person to the next. This is due to the sole fact that we are all on our own complex and wonderful life journey; yoga patiently reminds us of just that. 

- Emily Marcial

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Don’t Worry, Be Happy: How Yoga Helps Off the Mat

Awhile ago I was exploring the yamas and niyamas of yoga, known as yoga’s ethical guidelines, and stumbled upon one nugget that’s helped me a fair amount in my daily life off the mat.  I was reading about Ahimsa, which translates into non-harming, of others and self.  Mahatma Gandhi described it as “not to injure any creature by thought, word or deed”.

            I inherited quite an active worry gene from my mother, especially when it comes to my kids.  My kids are now young adults, with their share of stresses and struggles, and at times I worry about them as if they were helpless little ones, usually keeping myself up in the middle of the night.  I came across an idea by Deborah Adele, who says that “worrying about others is a form of violence.” At first this left me shocked.  Didn’t I worry about them because I loved them so much?  How could this hurt them? Adele explains that when we worry about others, we rob them of their personal power to manage their own challenges.  Rather than worrying, she suggests offering support and encouragement. 
I’ve been turning this over in my mind and my practice and this is how it’s evolved for me.  When I catch myself worrying about someone, I turn the worry into a loving kindness message, and visualize the person in all these lovely states:
May my loved one be well.
May my loved one be peaceful and at ease.
May my loved one be happy.
May my loved one be full of loving kindness.
 I’ve read that there’s evidence of improved wellness for people when experienced mindfulness practitioners meditate on their well-being. Regardless, this practice helps me feel more at peace and more hopeful for my loved ones. I sleep better at night, and when I communicate with them, I’m able to convey genuine faith in their ability. It also helps if I sing myself a little Bobby McFerrin…Don’t Worry, Be Happy.



Wednesday, 22 August 2018

One Year of Yoga

            This past September 2017, I began on the journey of training to become a yoga teacher. My reasons were in part searching for answers to questions I had, and another part being a potential avenue to a career change. My background is in engineering, yet my free time centers on learning herbalism, working with Reiki, among many other areas of personal growth. Yoga teacher training seemed like a logical next step. I liked yoga as a student, so why not take the leap and get the certification to teach yoga?

            When I signed up for teacher training, I expected the actual yoga poses/postures to be straight forward. I could perform most of the poses as a student decently enough, so teaching shouldn’t be that far of a stretch. What I discovered as the most difficult part was communicating how to do a pose to an audience. The communicating of instructions, the forming of sentences that made sense, the actual art of teaching. Performing the pose was no issue at all, but telling someone how to do the pose, now that was and still is very much a challenge.

            With signing up for this two year teacher trainer course, my interest mainly fell for the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of yoga. I was here to learn and experience all that I could. The philosophy class became what I looked forward to every month. The debates and discussions around yoga, around lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and other topics fueled my wanting and yearning to learn about the depths of yoga. These depths of yoga, these emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects, in my opinion give insight to the truth behind people, their actions, and their true nature, and more so, the truth about oneself. These debates raised more questions for me, more uncertainty regarding my plan for myself. More self-doubt as to who I really was. What defined me as me, and what I really and truly wanted for myself out of this life.

            I am still trying to figure a lot of that out, but yoga gave rise to that creative destruction of my perceptions. Yoga created the opportunity for personal growth in the way I wanted it to, not through the physical pose and posture part, but through the mindful, deeper, more meaningful part in my opinion, being that of self-reflection. This act of self-reflection while difficult, gave me the chance and insight to dive deep into much of what drives and makes me, me.

As I look back on the past 10 months, I see the transformation I went through. I see the knowledge I gained. I see my change. I don’t think any of my life questions have been answered as a result of this yoga journey so far, I think I have even more questions now that require answers. Maybe though, that is the point of yoga for me personally. Not a method or a way to finding solutions, but path to more questioning, a path of learning, a path of continual growth. A path of seeking.
Ryan Kologinski
June 2018

Saturday, 11 August 2018

why i signed up for teacher training!

I had never planned to become a yoga teacher. I enjoy yoga, and have been doing it for many years but it never entered my mind to teach it. I had been following a Zen Buddhist path for many years when it became evident that I must step into a teaching role – which was not in my comfort zone! I had an intense discomfort of being watched, scrutinized, and the centre of attention. I have had many
inspired and wise teachers over the years and I wondered what I could offer.

Around the same time, yoga teacher training “came up” as a possibility and I knew it was the correct next step for me to take. My instincts were confirmed in my very first teacher training class by the approach and presence of our wise and knowledgeable teacher Shauna. I marvelled at her naturalness, grace, sense of effortlessness, and humour and by the words we read of B.K.S. Iyengar to “treat your students as though they are divinity”. This was in complete alignment with my spiritual path! I was in the right place. I would learn to teach and be comfortable in my skin doing it.

Starting a daily yoga practise with a deep exploration of poses surprised me by being a great joy. It wasn’t a chore or a drag like I thought it might sometimes be. For much of my life I was disconnected from my body and sometimes it behaved unpredictably and almost felt like an enemy. It was a gift to spend this time getting to know my body – it felt like falling in love.

Body, on the Zen path, is often conspicuously not mentioned. Body is relative and temporary, like ego, and not considered worth spending time on.

But we are embodied – our bodies are our only vehicles in this life and are sacred – they must be taken care of. Part of my path has been reintegration of splintered/disowned parts and yoga has been profoundly healing in reclaiming my body and moving me towards wholeness.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

My yoga journey began long ago when I found a book on yoga.

 I no longer have the book and I don’t remember the name of it, but I was fascinated with it as an exercise and I tried to learn the poses on my own.

 I was not successful and I gave up!

Life happened and several years later I found myself moving to Winnipeg and buying a
house in the West End. On the corner, one block over and literally a few steps away
from my back door was a yoga studio called Yoga Centre Winnipeg. I didn’t pay much
attention at the time, but my daughter was practicing yoga elsewhere and she
encouraged me to check it out. I decided it might be a good way to get in shape, so I
took out a membership. I took as many classes as I could with as many teachers as I
could. I found the poses very challenging, but it did not take very long for me to notice
that I was feeling more flexible and aches and pains that I had attributed to aging were
disappearing. I was hooked!

At the same time, I was slowly becoming aware of the spiritual component to the
practise. I loved the attention to breath and body, the centering guidance from the
teachers and the encouragement to practise loving kindness, compassion, and
equanimity. It was perfect timing and complimentary to other things I was doing to help
me through some difficult life experiences.

I have been a member of Yoga Centre Winnipeg ever since. When I come to the yoga
centre I feel as if I have come home. I can bring in any emotion of the day and leave it
on the mat. The quality of teachers is excellent, the atmosphere is always one of
support and serenity, and I am able to make friends with like-minded people.
The spiritual component has become as important to me as the physical component
and I am so pleased to be a part of a centre that dedicates care and attention to this


Thursday, 26 July 2018

What I love about yoga is that it is an endless opportunity to learn. As an information junkie that would love to be a professional student for life, I seem to have chosen the correct path.

As a practicing student, I am continuously learning. The other day while reading an article for the course, I had what may have been a lightbulb moment. Realizing all at once that I had been processing information without a proper understanding of ‘equanimity’, and then learning (and understanding) what the definition actually was.  In hindsight, I can see signs of there being a lack of understanding – I had difficulty pronouncing it (equa…ni..niminity, or something), I couldn’t put my finger on a clear definition in my mind, and the context in which it was used often didn’t seem to be clear to me. If I would have been asked, I would have given some vague response as to what the definition was, summing up the vague idea I had in my head (something connected to equality…?) So, when it came across my path and I was presented with the actual definition which caught my attention and resonated, I knew this was a lesson that it was time to learn.

mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.
"she accepted both the good and the bad with equanimity"

This certainly was not what I’d been showing an abundance of lately. The concept of mental calmness was feeling like a mix of past memories and future goals. As someone who also learns best through experience, I had a very suitable opportunity to gain practice in developing equanimity.

Yoga will continue to teach you.
Always in the right moments, always with the right lesson.
Oh, and I can pronounce it now.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Yoga Adventure in Iceland

This past May, 20 yogini’s and yogi’s from the Yoga Centre Winnipeg, set out on an amazing adventure to Iceland .

Winnipeg is just an hour’s drive from Gimli  Manitoba, a small lakeside town in a region known as New Iceland. This area that boasts the highest Icelandic population outside of Iceland! We also had several travellers with Icelandic heritage in the group and so we were quick to boast about our connections!

However, not one of us was prepared for the warmth of the Icelandic people, or the awe inspiring natural landscape, so diverse from our own land! Every time we turned our heads there were vast fields of lava, steaming streams, geysers, moss-covered mountains, volcanoes, waterfalls, and so much more.

Our outstanding guides navigated us skillfully, and joyfully, through the rugged Icelandic terrain.  Almost magically, every time we stopped to view another spectacular site, the sun popped out, along with a rainbow or two. Sure enough, as time to board the bus approached, the clouds gathered and the rain poured from the sky. As we drove through the countryside, our knowledgeable guides entertained us with information about the country, peppered with Icelandic sagas, and tales of elves. It seems that more than a few of us returned home with an elf.

Though the rain was significant, it did not detract from the marvelousness of our experience; whether it was touring the sights, shopping, or our most fabulous foodie tour of Reykjavík!! No words could prepare us for the delights of that day! Mmmmmm, the rye bread baked in the ground, ice cream made from the same rye bread, divine rainbow trout and fish stew to die for, were only some of the cuisine we sampled that we are all still drooling over one month later! Even the hotel breakfasts were a treat- fresh skyr, endless coffee, and smoked salmon were some of the highlights- but no one will forget the cod liver oil shooters- yup! Sounds nasty, but surprisingly great!

It’s hard to pinpoint what stood out the most. Many will treasure the time spent soaking in the warm and healing waters of the blue lagoon, or horse back riding at the foot of the volcano; while others carry with them images of the black beaches or standing at the edge of the glacier with the black volcanic ash starkly contrasted against the white ice.

With morning and evening yoga to balance and integrate each day of wonder, our group of intrepid yogis loved every moment of this amazing trip.

Thank you Travel Yogi and Season Tours !!
 Hugs and love
 Jan and Shauna and the Yoga Centre Winnipeg Travel Elves

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

My Yoga Journey

My yoga journey started when I was 14,  (1969) in the basement of my parents house in northern Manitoba in a small room next to the coal bin.  
My mom found yoga instructions in readers digest magazine and suggested I try. I am a tall, thin, shy adolescent - not interested in playing hockey- looking for something to do alone in those long dark winters.  I was young and very flexible and strong so i mastered the yoga positions and loved the practice.  

Flash ahead to 2017 and I start yoga teacher training with Yoga Center Winnipeg. 

I am now 61 years old and have not been particularly physically active other than a demanding career and wonderful active family to preoccupy me.  So I have the 47 year old memory of how easy things were and I am quickly faced with the reality that my current body is not nearly as agile as my younger self remembers.   I have had a serious back injury, broken bones and experiencing genetic concerns regarding connective tissue and just plain not exercising and the realities of aging.  All of these limitations /facts as I am studying yoga philosophy opens me to a whole new understanding of what yoga really is. I have no idea what I signed up for.  

The teachers are especially caring accepting, encouraging and able to support and assist to compensate for the injuries, fears, limitations and age without judgement and always accepting each person as an individual on their own journey.  

No competition and just accept the current situation and breath just breath. 

I know the holistic healing aspects of yoga and mindfulness from my years of working with people and their families who have endured physical, mental health issues and traumatic experiences. Years of work in human services has brought me to understand that human injuries and trauma can be greatly benefited from yoga, mindfulness and health diet. I have done compassion training in the past and experienced how a dedication to the process creates change in how the individual see and interact with the world. Part of the draw to teacher training was for me  to teach yoga/mindfulness in the area of mental health both for those diagnosed and those working with or supporting people, to maintain overall health for all.

The teacher training process, individual classes and the daily practice I am cultivating have enhanced my life in all areas.  The experience is far beyond my expectations as I start this training.  

I am not sure where my yoga journey will take me but I know wherever it takes me I will bring along a quieter, calmer more understanding mind and more compassionate responses to the world.

Big shout out to all of the amazing trainers, teachers, and other yoga students (who are all teachers in their own right) and participants I have met along the way. Each of you have brought an experience that is unique and wonderful. Pushing, pulling, nudging, accepting, exploring, encouraging and always open to each student’s questions and personal experience. The front staff are always welcoming to each person by name and with a genuine hello and caring interaction.  The instructors are able to connect with each student to help address their journey with specific support and encouragement and eventually an understanding of injuries and adjustments.   The entire yoga journey for me has been greatly enhanced by the staff at Yoga Center of Winnipeg.

Thank you all. 

So now I keep going.

Where will this adventure go??
Diane Lau
(p.s. paintings by Diane, added to the blog without permission(!) from her Facebook page)

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

How yoga changed my life

I love yoga. 

To be honest, I am not entirely sure how it changed my life, but I am certain that it has.

To me yoga is a small
well used word 
that encompasses 
so much. 
It's a way of life
not just the asana
or poses,
that are so known. 

Yoga to me
is the good intentions
the breathing
the teachings
the body awareness
the self awareness.

Its about the practicing of all of it, and learning how to be my best self, and live my truest life. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love the poses too. They feel great, the stretch, the release, and the progress into deeper and more complex poses. The poses help the energy move and flow so that the intentions and life practices can take shape.

So finding a yoga practice and adding all of the above to my life 10 years ago has changed my life for the better. I had been doing yoga for a few years with Bluemoon/kuhlektiv yoga before I took my fist yoga teacher training.  Now both of these things had a huge hand in making yoga big in my life. The classes spoke to me, helped my “desk job”  ridden body, left me with good intentions, self-awareness and all around feeling good. I wanted to take it to the next level and kuhlektiv yoga helped me find a YTT that suited me. I completed the first third of the YTT with Ally Gaiatri while I was  two months pregnant.  Unfortunately, because I was pregnant and the YTT was in Calgary, I didn't get a chance to complete the second and third modules. However, I believe that being pregnant during this initial YTT shaped how yoga is present in my life now.  

Being a mom is a huge part of my life now, but the yoga had staying power and they have woven together. 

Yoga helps me 
be a better mom 
(I hope and think maybe?!)
my intentions 
give me more patience 
(usually not enough, but it helps)
more love
more mindfulness
mostly the practice of reminding myself of all these things
that we are all doing our best.

So I guess I do know how yoga changed my life: 
in all the ways mentioned above and so much more!!

Going forward, I hope to keep growing my practice.
I am sure yoga will continue to change my life.

T. Horechko

Monday, 28 May 2018

why I love yoga

I love yoga for many reasons. 

First and foremost, it helps me maintain balance in my life. By that I mean it gives me permission to take time for me! It brings me closer to the connection between my mental health, my emotional well being, strengthening my body and connecting with spirit.
Another great reason I love Yoga is that it makes me feel beautiful.  When I get into dancers pose, I imagine myself as free, transformed with grace and poise.  Yoga can take you to anywhere you want to go. All you have to do is be. 
Yoga takes on many different versions from meditation, relaxation, to steady movements of flow. Any day of the week you can take a class or even practice at home and it will be your choice of which practice you choose for the day.  I base my practice on how I feel that day or more importantly how I want to feel when I’m finished.  

Yoga has made me more conscious of my daily decisions and how I interact with others. There have been many times in my life where I have reacted to a situation instead of responding. Now I think about how my actions will not only affect how I feel about myself but also how others see me. There is a rippling effect to all of our interactions with others.

 Every person you meet, converse with, even those you pass on the street. Yoga has brought me closer to the profound impact we all have on one another.

Yoga is not only yoga, it’s so much more! You will find what you’re looking for if you are open to it. We all need something of our own to bring us closer to our true selves, for me its yoga.

Michelle Greenslade

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Why I Love Yoga !!!

I have always enjoyed being an active person; swimming, cycling, gymnastics,
coaching, teaching, learning. But once upon a time, I got caught in an office job
and I found myself in front of a computer for long hours dealing with stressful
situations. I fell out of activity. I got lost in gyms. Machines and weights are
terrible conversationalists. I didn’t like being yelled at in robotic aerobics classes.
Spin class are not my jam. I worked as a lifeguard so long, I developed an
allergy to chlorine.

What to do, what to do? !!

I missed my body. We didn’t know each other any more. I never seemed to move except from place to place, my car to my office chair. Thebody needs to move! Yoga seemed like a way to do that. I signed up for classes and had the good fortune to be introduced to yoga, and reacquainted with my body (especially my toes),with Hart Lazer. The attention to detail was painstaking. What a foundation. I loved every minute and have tried to make yoga a part of my life since then.

The Yoga Centre Winnipeg IS my jam!!!!

Yoga is a lovely way to do my own lovely thing with a group of lovely people doing their own lovely thing while guided by lovely caring attentive instructors that invite me to explore.

I am not told so much what to do, but rather asked to feel my way through a series of poses that open my body, mind and soul. It can be energizing or restorative. It is always inspiring. Best for me, yoga makes me happy! Yoga is by far the best way I have found to stretch and move and enjoy being alive. Bonus lovely are the associated paths yoga has led me to: meditation, spiritual practices, consciousness literature. And yoga stretches itself off the mat and into my enriched daily life:
          Awareness. Presence. Gratitude. Positivity. Kindness. Humour.

It even influenced my career move of getting out of an office and into being a massage therapist. Woot! And best of all, I know it is something I can do til I’m 80. Or older!

Namaste ~ Pat!!!

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Finding Space

My yoga mat is a very busy place.  When I roll it out on the studio floor and stand back to admire its colour (purple, my favorite), it looks like an empty mat.  An open space, reserved just for me.  There to support me, encourage me, hold and heal me.  And it is.  An open and empty place; until I step onto it. 

I think of caged water, pushing hard against its limits and the intensity of the release when its allowed to flow.   That’s what happens when I step on my mat only its not rushing water, its all of the other things.  Past experiences, failures, and embarrassments.  My distorted perception of myself, my mental illness, my fears and all of my broken pieces.   They are on that mat with me and sometimes for me, the greatest challenge on my mat is not the practice of yoga at all, but the practice of sitting with all of those judgments, that fear, that illness, those broken pieces.  
It was only a few years ago that yoga found me.

We had been introduced years before that but I wasn’t ready for it.  It wasn’t time.  I say that because the practice, for me, is more than movement and growth of my body but truly a movement of everything I am. My spirit and mind are holding that Plank and feel sensation right along with my thighs.  When I started the practice, I was deep in a depression and one of the hardest parts of my being in a deep dive is that my eyes don’t look the same.   They are flat, there is no spark, I can’t feel the essence of who I know I am.   Reduced to a pilot light, knowing I am a blazing inferno at my best.  Looking in the mirror, facing that darkness, was too big.  

The studio where I began to practice had mirrors along the walls and one day I came to class and the only places left in the room were at the front, face to face with the mirror.  The place I had been avoiding. 
I rolled out my mat, that optimistic space that quickly became so very busy as I stepped onto it.  Moving into Tadasana, grounding my feet and feeling the rooting and strength grow through my legs, exhaling and allowing my shoulders to relax back and open my chest.  Arms passively at my side, submitting to the fear of the impossible task ahead of me.  Slowly, my gaze moved up the mirror and there they were.  Those empty eyes staring back at me and the sting of tears rolling down my cheeks.  I just stood there, the rest of the class passive in Svasana, I stood there.  Fighting a silent battle, waging war on an invisible illness and beginning to see the utter lack of compassion that I feel for my illness, my fears, my broken pieces.

  The hardest work I did in that class, that day, wasn’t the practice of yoga. It was the practice letting go, the practice of learning to make space for all of the things about me, whether I like them or not.  Whether I have control over them walking on that mat with me, or not.  Learning compassion for ones’ self, making room for all of the pieces is hard.  It burns like the deep lunge of Warrior II, it takes your breath like sun salutations, challenges your balance like Tree.  Learning compassion for yourself, all of yourself, is sometimes the deepest stretch. 

The fact is, like so many others, I have fears, I have mental illness, I have broken pieces.   They are part of me, they walk with me. We can’t always control the things we are given but we can control how we walk with them. Hating them, resenting them, is hating me, wishing away me, my parts, my pieces. 

The greatest practice on and off the mat is finding balance with them all and learning to smile at the darkness.  To find softness in the hard places. To push through the long holds and be strong knowing you always have the power to make space, to find a place, for all of the pieces.   


Jennifer Forzley