“This is what we do on our yoga mats: we sit with what is here and now so that we can become vulnerable, exposed and real.” ~ Colleen Saidman Yee, Yoga is Life
The above quote is no joke. When you immerse yourself in yoga, you begin to notice your true essence, the rawness of you. I’m going to tell you, it’s scary. It’s life changing. It’s a lot of fun, too. But it will rip you apart, so come prepared.
About 13 years ago, I met my husband. I fell in love with him instantly. When you know, you know. He was a health nut, fixed on running and eating well and practicing yoga to VHS tapes by some guy I had only briefly heard of: Rodney Yee. I was immediately turned off from the tapes. I just think people should wear clothes, is all. I don’t like seeing guys without their shirts on mowing the lawn, running…or practicing yoga, for that matter. Cover it up. Give me something to imagine. That’s half the fun.
Eventually, I would practice along, and I grew to love the tapes, and Rodney Yee’s message. He seemed so calm, kind, open. How refreshing to live your life that way when the rest of the world seems to be running, wanting, scheming.
Fast forward to a little over two years ago, when I started realizing I wasn’t living the life that I wanted. I’d worked incredibly hard for everything I had, but something was missing. I’d become numb over time, and I wanted to get a little bit more of me back. I jogged a lot those days and I loved the meditation of jogging, of going into the zone. And I don’t know what led me back to yoga, but something did, maybe an article or a blog, I truly have no idea. But I started practicing in our spare bedroom, googling asanas by Rodney Yee and so many of the newer, mainstream yogis. And I started feeling the pull even more…when I’m practicing yoga, when I’m in the moment, I am my ideal self. I leave my yoga room refreshed and alive and remembering who I really am, who I was meant to be. I want that person in my life more often. I just didn’t know how to get her there.
At the beginning of last year, I decided I would finally move forward with advancing my knowledge in something that would allow me to take what I had learned through my vegan lifestyle and through my yoga practice to help people. After reviewing many registered dietician, nutrition counseling, massage therapy and yoga teacher training programs, I settled on yoga. One of the beautiful studios I attend announced that they were offering a 200-hour deep study yoga teacher certification, and I immediately jumped at the chance to be included. It was a 10-month-long, intense program covering assisting, alignment, meditation, sequencing, ancient texts, and so much more. To say that it changed my life is a complete understatement. I felt like it ripped apart my life. I felt more vulnerable and exposed than I’ve ever been.
I joked a lot last year that yoga ruined my life, in the best possible way. It allowed me to remember me. I reconnected with the girl I was: a reader, a writer, an artist. It allowed me to see how the path I was on was not a bad path (it was actually quite wonderful), but it was not my path; I had gotten a little off track.
I don’t know if it’s possible to fully ready yourself for this type of experience. I think I was as ready as I could have been, with each year of the past 5 years of my life becoming healthier, more aware, less intense. I often hear people say this who have kids: you’re never going to be ready, so just go for it. I’ve never agreed with that, but I don’t have kids, so what do I know. I guess I’ve never been ‘ready’ for that experience, and never willing to take that chance. It takes years for me to process ideas. I can’t read one book and understand the message. I read a book, get intrigued, and then have to read 5 more by 5 other authors on the same topic to fully get it. And I have to do this over time…I have to let my mind expand, to let ideas and words in. The same goes with any life-changing decision for me: it takes a lot of processing time, I can’t just jump.
I think that’s also why, when I’m upset about something, I have to sit on it for a bit. I can’t just speak what should come out immediately, because I haven’t fully processed those words yet. So I let things stew, and then by the time my mind is ready, the words overflow. The pot boils over. I’ll sit on things for too long, become too tied to them, too emotionally drained, and then throw them up, all at once, so the person who’s dealing with me never knows what was coming or why I’m so emotional about it. I used to hate this about me, but I think a lot of us are like this. A lot of us introverts have a hard time adding our message to conversations; maybe we think too much, maybe we have social anxiety, maybe we just need time to let things sit, maybe all of the above.
So for the past several years, I’ve been turning into this new person. Most of it, I’ve kept inside. Most people didn’t know I was going through a teacher training until the program was over. It’s not because I’m secretive. It’s because the words hadn’t come yet. I needed the security of my body, my journals, and my immediate friends and family to process everything.
April is a month of change, of new beginnings. A new moon, and a new path. I made a huge life change last week. The biggest change I’ve allowed myself to make, throughout my entire life. I’ve made myself sick from it, my entire body aches from being so tense. I’ve eaten too much, put on weight, drank too much wine and not enough water, spun out of control with emotions. I’ve spent more awake hours crying, worrying and stressing than laughing. I haven’t slept for months. I’m so damn tired. It’s scary as hell. It’s quite brutal. But, I’ve been here before. I know these feelings now. I know this emotional pain. I can be comfortable here.
And in a few days, I get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study with Rodney Yee, and his wife, Colleen Saidman Yee, thanks to Rebecca Butler’s gorgeous love, generosity and incredible studio. It’s all coming back full circle. The man I fell in love with turned me on to this life without ever knowing it. He allowed me to remember my true essence. I had forgotten who I really was.
I don’t know if I’m ready for this training, but here goes. My emotions are already so raw right now that I’m sure I’ll be sitting there sobbing, or trying to hold back sobbing, each minute. But that’s what yoga is for: you come to it when you can’t figure life out. You come to it when you need answers, even if you don’t know the question yet. You come to it when you’re at your lowest, because it’s always accepting. It’s nothing but love. Yoga doesn’t judge, it simply allows. Space, time, breath. It allows all of those things. And it allows massive growth, massive change, massive acceptance. Change is so hard. But it’s inevitable. Sometimes, you have to encourage it to arrive, you have to be the muse.
Much more to come…love, Jen.
Yoga Will Ruin Your Life (So Enjoy this Costa Rica Sampler with Juice)
Costa Rica Rice
- 1 c. white rice
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. coriander
- 1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
- 12 oz. extra firm tofu
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/4 tsp. coriander
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 c. beans, cooked
- 1/2 avocado, sliced
- 4 c. spinach, fresh
- 1 tomato
Costa Rica Juice
- 1 pineapple
- 4 carrots
- 2 tbsp. chia seeds
- 1 c. water
- To begin with, you can make a fresh pot of beans the day before, or use canned. I prefer to make mine from scratch, and you can find my recipe below.
- Cook the rice according to package directions. When fluffy, stir in the cumin, coriander, and chopped cilantro. Set aside.
- While the rice is cooking, wrap the tofu in a few towels and press under very heavy books for about 20 minutes.
- While the rice is cooking and the tofu is pressing, work on the juice. Slice the pineapple and peel the carrots, and juice away! Add the 1 c. water and the chia seeds, stir well, and set aside so the seeds have time to expand.
- Slice the tofu into long 1/4" strips and mix with olive oil, garlic powder, cumin and coriander. Cook the tofu in a large skillet over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes per side.
- For the sides: I like to include cooked tomatoes and cooked spinach with this meal. Slice the tomato, and cook over olive oil on medium heat for about 3 minutes, turning once. For the spinach: rinse well and place in a large pan over medium low heat for about 4 minutes, stirring often until wilted.
- Serve a helping of rice, beans and tofu along with the spinach, tomatoes, and avocados. And don't forget the juice! This is truly a Costa Rican treat. Enjoy!