- Strengthen and tone your body
- Increase flexibility
- Reduce stress levels
- Improve your overall well-being
Consider the similarity that the sun offers us renewal with the dawning of each day, yet the sun’s true purpose is vast and life-giving beyond being a daily symbol of renewal. When we return to our mat again and again, we begin to unmask who we truly our and align with a profound purpose.
June is a month for spiritual awakening. The summer solstice is a time to celebrate the ascension of the sun in our sky, and spiritually it is a time to celebrate the light of awakening that is within. It’s fitting that June 21st is also International Day of Yoga. This day was declared by the United Nations in 2014, but has been significant to the yoga tradition since ancient times. It’s said that on this day, followers of the first yogi set forth to carry the science and practice of yoga throughout the world. Somewhere over the course of thousands of years, those teachings have reached you. Believe that this is no accident. Believe that you are ready to being a journey with yoga.
If your intuition calls you to the mat, trust it. Trust that you are intuitively uncovering a higher purpose. Alix and Brigitte founded Grace Pilates + Yoga as a refuge where movement has a purpose. They created a space for you to arrive at a new beginning, each day, each class, each pose and choose grace. Choosing grace means accepting and honoring your life, your body, your spirit in this moment—and having faith that every single moment is an opportunity to choose.
I honestly don’t recall my first experience in a yoga class. I may have unrolled an exercise mat in my living room a few times and tried out some poses I had seen, but my first experience of yoga was hardly a “eureka!” moment. But I do remember my first class with Brigitte. I was struck by her dharma talk, speaking from the heart with love and vulnerability. I was challenged by the physical practice, and felt something different at the end of class. It was a combined physical, emotional, and spiritual experience. I felt renewed, connected, inspired and wanting more.
Less than a year after that class, I became a student of Swan River Yoga’s teacher training with Brigitte as one my mentors. Swan School transformed my yoga practice into something more. Entering Swan School, I passed through a gateway that tore my heart wide open so that I could not only receive love but be Love. These words from my teacher Michelle Baker have resonated with me since the day she spoke them: ““Be true to your purpose and it will magnetize towards you.”
Without having the words to speak my purpose, I listened deeply to my teachers and let my heart be my guide. My mat shifted from a place of refuge to a place for recognition. My practice became one of uncovering, undoing, and removing mayas.
Maya is a Sanskrit word referring to veils of illusion or tricks of the mind that foster the illusion of separateness. Anything that divides us from the universal truth that all beings are connected is maya. As I became aware of mayas, in seemingly every thought I could detect a veil that clouded my interactions, my beliefs, my memories, my judgments, my fears, my ability to love others, and my ability to love myself. I became aware that these illusions are woven by the ego. My practice helped me untangle myself from the limiting and fear-based illusions of mayas. My practice helped me let go and feel my spirit soar as I shape-shifted on the mat.
Asana was my gateway to yoga, and with trust and faith in this practice, the many radiant roads of yoga have unfurled like trails in the wilderness for me to follow and explore. For example, Nada Yoga, the yoga of sound, is one radiant road that we explored together as our May studio focus of the month. By exploring the roads of yoga I can now see that yoga is a practice of undoing. It is an unlearning, an unraveling of thoughts, concepts, perceptions, and fears. It is an untethering from the past, from the ego, from who you think you are or should be. The mat creates space to process emotions and experiences, whether sitting in meditation or through movement. The practice creates space to move through sadness, anger, fear and ultimately journey to love.
We all yearn to be connected, accepted, loved. Yoga is the practice of routinely Self-awakening to the truth that you are Love. You can never be without it—it is your true nature. Who we are on the mat becomes who we are for ourselves off the mat and for others.
And in recognizing my connectedness to others, I’ve found who I am here to be:
I am here for others to discover their truth.
I am here to heal.
I am here to love.
Your intuition is a sacred instinct. If your internal compass has navigated you to find yoga, trust it and follow that path.