photo 1I came to yoga hungry for something to help me heal during my senior year of college when I broke up with a boyfriend I loved very much and my Grandfather passed away during the same month. At the same time, I was trying to come to terms with life after Boston College, and the situation hurled me into a place that can be best described as chaotic.

I practiced the most that I ever have my senior year in college – five times a week. I had the muscles to prove it, too! Above all, I practiced to stay sane and remember to love myself even when it felt like a lot was falling apart around me.

Today, six years later, I can tell you with complete confidence that yoga has revolutionized the way I look at life.

From a broad perspective, I practice to touch that place on my mat where I can fully feel the magic of being alive. Yoga has taught me to sit with pain and to sit with joy – and see them both as beautiful teachers. I know that some of the brightest moments in my life have come after facing dark challenges.

I titled this post after Rolf Gates’ theme during the class he taught at today’s Yoga Reaches Out Yogathon at Gillette Stadium. He spoke of a tale of an old woman in a village who knew how to cross a river that no one else dared to take on. When asked her secret she replied, “not pushing forward, but not standing still.”

This saying which he weaved into the entire class really spoke to me. There is an ease, a flow to life that’s accessible to us when we allow ourselves to treasure what is but also take small steps in the right direction when the time feels right. To follow the whispers of the universe and instead of fighting against what is, we can surrender to a plan larger than our own.

Yoga has demanded that I learn how to stop living in the past and stop freaking out about the future. It has insisted that I’m enough exactly as I am. I have SUCH gratitude and amazement for all the gifts it’s given me and will continue to give me throughout my life.

I was so honored to be giving assists this year as a teacher, and it felt so powerful to be in a room with over 1,000 yogis, cracking themselves open, giving from their heart and standing in the power of the present moment.

Three things:

1.) This Joseph Campbell quote, “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive…so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

On that note I say to you, the world NEEDS you to feel the rapture of being alive.

2.) For beak up inspiration, this quote from Broken Open “Don’t worry about this man. He is learning his soul lessons too. He will find the peace that his soul is searching for. You have given him the key to this. You have fulfilled your contract with each other…May friendship and brotherly love prevail.”

3.) One more from Broken Open (which reminded of the river tale at the yogathon) “We live in a river of change, and a river of change lives within us. Every day we’re given a choice: We can relax and float in the direction that the water flows, or we can swim hard against it. If we go with the river, the energy of a thousand mountain streams will be with us, filling our hearts with courage and enthusiasm. If we resist the river, we will feel rankled and tired as we tread water, stuck in the same place.