Here’s a thought I’d like to share…
We don’t do yoga to get better at doing yoga. We do yoga to get better at doing Life! ~Augusta Kantra
Everything I learn on the mat supports me in living this one wild and precious life* as fully as possible. As dramatic a statement as this is, it was the realization of the truth of this statement that made me fall in love with yoga.
I started doing yoga by watching Steve Ross’ “Inhale” on Oxygen channel back in 2000. I wasn’t sure what I liked about it so much, but I got hooked pretty quickly. It intrigued me. There was something different about it, something that focused me, empowered me, lightened me up.
I began reading about it; studying the poses, the cueing, the sequences. YogaJournal.com made its way to the number one spot on my bookmarks toolbar. When my workout buddy said she’d do yoga with me if I’d lead it, that’s all it took. I memorized some of Steve’s sequences and started leading the two of us a couple of times a week at the gym. Other people in the gym started joining us. It slowly turned into a class, and I turned into the teacher of that class. Little did I know how little I knew!!
Quite randomly (or maybe not randomly at all), a couple of years later, I picked up the book Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates. There are no poses in this book, just readings about what yoga is, what it means, how it works. It all resonated with me. It felt important… necessary and nurturing. The more I read, the more hooked I became. This “yoga stuff” had a lot more going on than the poses!
Through my practice and my study, I began to discover the underlying principles of the practice of yoga and to see how yoga was not something you do but something you live. I saw the parallels between yoga and the healing work of mindful living. I felt the difference between living with gentle awareness versus reactively going through the motions of life. That’s when I knew that this practice was something I wanted to explore in a deeper way.
I wanted a teacher. I wanted to study under someone who walked the path of an examined life. It took me a few years to find that teacher. I first had to walk the path of cancer, chemo, and healing. Then, the teacher appeared — or rather I saw what was already there. I found out that Rolf Gates was going to do a 200hr Teacher Training in New Orleans as a Hurricane Katrina relief project. It felt like an uncommon and profound opportunity. I took it!
No one, except my husband, David, really understood why I wanted to spend the time, money, and energy to do a training that would teach me to do what I was already doing – teaching yoga. My best friend said, “You know you’ll never make back the money this will cost you.” I knew that… or thought I did. And I also knew, without a doubt, that I felt a deep desire to do it… for me! I didn’t take the training to learn to teach. I didn’t do it for the Yoga Alliance registration. I didn’t do it to feel more confident. I did it because, in my heart, I yearned to immerse myself in a path of wholeheartedness.
I would never have guessed that from that training I, along with David, would go on to complete an advanced training, lead teacher trainings with Rolf, and then create the Kantra CALM School of Yoga.
Never has there been a moment of regret for following my heart. From the journey that began then, and continues now, I have learned how to learn from my everyday life; how to explore with fearless compassion; how aligning my body helps me know how to align my values and actions; and how taking care of the next right step takes care of the whole journey.
David and I are honored to be guides on this incredible journey. Every time we begin a new training (and our next one starts in January), we feel the tremendous opportunity that awaits both our students and the two of us. We still learn as we teach, and, our deepest wish is that we (and our trainees) always will.
Thank you for taking the time to share this recounting of my journey. I hope it, in even some small way, inspires you to act on the true longing of your heart. Don’t wait until you figure out all the how’s and why’s — just know that when opportunities come along, your heart is your true and trustworthy compass.
Wishing you an unabashedly wholehearted journey!
*from the words of Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day.”
A Recent Yoga Teacher Training Graduate Says…
“The greatest gift I have received from the Kantra CALM School of Yoga 200hr yoga teacher training is the opening of my heart. I have learned to feel again, and it feels so good.”
~Giselle Simmance, Graduate 2017 Yoga Teacher Training
Are you ready to open your heart?
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