Reflections from Rachel: Why I do what I do

seated woman

Why yoga?

Why do I practice? It seems like a lifetime ago that I walked into my first hot yoga class on the advice of both my massage therapist and a family friend. I was 6 years post spinal surgery and dealing with a lot of chronic pain, muscle tightness and limited mobility. In a true illustration of the mind/body connection, the lessons I was learning about breath, patience, and compassion with regards to my injured body started to influence my mental and emotional states as well.

Do I turn to my practice when I am feeling stiff and achy? Yes. I also turn to it when my heart is breaking, or my mind is spinning. I won’t pretend that yoga is a miracle salve that fixes all my problems. I still experience periods of physical pain, emotional turmoil, anxiety… What yoga offers me is an environment to hone the skills I need to cope. To cultivate enough strength and mobility in my body to minimize relapses and re-injury. To calm my mind enough to distinguish what can be changed and what must be accepted. To develop the kind of compassion towards myself and others to make peace with the fact that we are all a work in progress.

Sometimes the need to move and breathe is so strong I feel it like an itch at the back of my neck or an aching in my teeth. Other times I don’t realize how much I needed to practice until final savasana when I notice that the tension (physical or mental) I had been carrying has melted away and the world is suddenly a lighter place.

Why do I teach? After dabbling in many different work environments, I had come to 2 conclusions. I wanted—I needed—to do something that would make some kind of positive change in the world around me. And I enjoyed teaching, especially the opportunity to share knowledge with a willing audience! On any given day, the students who cross my path will have many different needs and backgrounds. The student needing to rebuild strength and mobility after a shoulder injury. The physically healthy student struggling to cope with the grief and loss. The overworked yoga teacher who just wants to hear someone else’s voice while they practice… I’ve taught each one of these many times over, and I have been each one of these students.

Why should you, the reader, do yoga? I don’t know! As I write this, I have no idea what you’re dealing with or looking for… But if anything I have described resonates with you, come give it a try. You might share some aspect of my experience or have a perfectly unique and healing experience of your own. In any case, I’ll be here: practicing, teaching, or doing the behind-the-scenes work necessary to hold space for this beautiful family of students and teachers. Hope to see you soon <3