Today combines so many of my favorite things, yoga, politics, voting... (oh my!)
I have never claimed to be a "quiet woman." In fact, I am sometimes confused by women who are very quiet.... when I was a bit younger my father once told me I curse like a sailor, and as much as I am certain he did not intend for me to, I totally took it as a compliment and point of pride... I remember when I started teaching yoga, I realized I had to sort of relearn and reprogram myself from the way I was raised in theater. My favorite theater teacher in high school the locally famous Sandra Taylor used to say, "Acting is Reacting" "Don't act, React." Then when I met my favorite yoga instructor, Akasha Ellis, he said "don't react, act" I was like... well, that's a new and different way to approach the world... I will admit, I am still working on mastering this concept.
How do we as yogis, as women, for me as a recovering politcial science major with honest rage against the system, start to better understand all of the many facets of ourselves and "yoke" or "unite" (the true meaning of yoga after all) them in a way that feels good, makes sense to us and still allows us to follow the teachings we believe in the way that we understand them?
I have been thinking about this a great deal recently with living and teaching yoga in Alabama and trying to use my yoga to cope with the political climate of my state. I joke with my students that I have to do so much yoga because of my previous experience majoring in political science and working in non-profits. And it is sort of a joke... I burned out trying to help people through the non-profit world, went back to basics and thought hard about what had always really helped me... because that is what I really started out wanting to do. Understand the world around me, understand myself, and maybe brighten the world a bit while I was at it.
But the longer I studied the system as it stood, the more disheartened I became, the more I worked advocating for science-based, accurate and appropriate sexual health education in Alabama schools, advocated for better policies for HIV/AIDS, tried to keep people in their homes under the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP) or attempted to get funding for people to rebuild their homes after the tornadoes in Alabama, the more I felt like I was spending all my time filling out paperwork, trying to cut through red tape, sacrificing my overall beliefs just to try to get SOMETHING, anything done to help people in a tangible way.... and I knew I needed something more!
I went back to basics, I thought, OK, what helped me get through the toughest parts of life thus far?... yoga! And then I remembered when my college yoga instructor at Samford told me, you should really consider doing a yoga teacher training program for yourself, you clearly like yoga, you are like a different person when you leave than when you arrive... and I knew she had been right. I also don't hate that I was able to have some real world experience before I started teaching- and at least pretended for a while to use that very expensive degree... but I knew that working for non-profits may never be able to provide for me the fulfillment of really tangily feeling like I was being of service (seva).
So, eventually, I gathered up my courage, I did some research on local programs, I found a new yoga home in Birmingham Yoga, and I met Akasha Ellis, my teacher, who welcomed me to his teacher training program. And well, one thing led to another, eventually I found myself cutting back on the "real jobs" and doing more and more of what I loved- helping people find a sense of calm in this crazy world we share. :)