A yoga practice can enhance many aspects of our lives: awareness, mindfulness, flexibility, strength and so much more. Cultivating patience and trust in intuition are probably not the first that come to mind. In my 21-year practice, however, these have been the hidden gifts that have brought so much more than I ever imagined when I first took up yoga.
When I decided to take a 200-hour yoga-teacher training in 2012, I had been practicing yoga regularly for 17 years and enjoyed it very much – but I hadn’t taken it deeper than surface-level. I thought for sure I would never teach; ‘I’m doing this to deepen my practice,” I said. Yet, by the time my yoga-teacher training was over, I had unexpectedly resigned from a full-time job as a children’s librarian, and the following year, my husband, Michael and I made a leap of faith and moved from the tip of eastern Long Island to Vashon Island, WA, near Seattle. My husband retired and I had no idea what I would do for a living – plus, we were having a new home built and living in furnished rental homes until the unknown date when it would be finished. The decision simultaneously scared and thrilled me.
I’ve always had faith in my intuition, but this level was unprecedented. I credit my yoga and meditation practice for allowing me to believe that we were doing the right thing, despite friends and acquaintances who said, “This is crazy, you don’t know anyone there, why not keep things as they are?” Putting faith in an outcome we can’t possibly know is a skill that can develop from coming to the mat and finding stillness daily – if we allow it. Teaching yoga, not only having my own practice, has sharpened that skill to the point where I now rely on my “gut” without question in making every decision.
It can be incredibly daunting to let go of controlling the outcome and the need to have everything perfect. Learning to develop trust that life is unfolding in the best possible way has been an ongoing journey. It takes courage to believe in that idea, and at the same time, it is a tremendous relief to let go of control.An inspiring read on the topic is The Surrender Experiment: My Journey Into Life’s Perfection by Michael . Singer. In the book, Singer says “All the events that had unfolded so far in my experiment with surrender had shown me that the more I was willing to let go of the inner noise created by my personal likes and dislikes, the more I could see subtle synchronicities in what was unfolding around me. These unexpected concurrences of events were like messages from life gently nudging me in the direction she was going. I listened to these subtle nudges instead of listening to the not-so-subtle mental and emotional reactions caused by my personal preferences.”
I have come to believe that without my strong yoga and meditation practice, and especially my teaching, I never would have made this big change – one that continues to ask me to stretch every day. As much as I love where I live and completely believe it was the right choice, I’m still working to set up a sustainable private- and small-group yoga business (including a studio at our new home) and to find ways to stay patient with the process.
I’ve always been an impatient person, one who wants things to happen NOW and who loves to check off items on a to-do list. At age 60, every day begins with a new and deliberate attention to letting go, to trusting, to embracing patience; to beginning again, breath by breath, to being compassionate with myself. My yoga and meditation practices have been my ballast, my anchor – what enables me to keep finding wells of patience I didn’t know I had, depths of courage and the will to keep pushing towards my dreams.