It was so fun to have a yogi friend visit this week. We got to play on the new wall ropes, use the yoga toys and props from the old Bear Foot Yoga Studio and buy a new gong! My dear friend Liz first showed up in my life at an “Introduction to Yoga” workshop I offered at my studio in 2016. She was brand new to yoga. Since then, she has had a regular practice and completed her 200 hour teacher training and was a fantastic teacher at my studio.
I share this in recognition that I live vicariously in Liz’s stage of her yoga journey. From creation to preservation, her enthusiasm and dedication to the practice make me feel like a successful teacher. And young at heart! Her attitude also reminds me what it was like to be in my 30’s, completely engaged in the physical practice of asana, and having goals like perfecting handstand. 15 years ago, I was a human sponge for anything yoga, particularly new postures. Putting in the work to master new poses was a voluntary venture that got me out of my comfort zone but gave me presence of mind. Physical development was what I needed to find my authentic self. Whether I was successful or failed at acquiring a new pose, it was all by my own doing, and I did it for no one but myself. An attempt at pose mastery was my mental health.
The Difficult Admission
Yoga has lost some of its splendor. Specifically yoga asana. Some time late in the pandemic, the progression of my yoga asana came to a standstill. I stopped challenging myself to do new postures; or to do any postures that I don’t enjoy for that matter. There has been a physical demise that I attribute to a number of changes including the studio closing, not teaching 14+ classes per week, losing my students, moving away from familiar yoga classes and teachers I like, and the transition of my most motivational yoga partner Bodhi dog. There have also been some positive changes like gaining awe-inspiring hiking out my door.
The Four Stages Of Life
According to Vedic tradition, there are 4 stages in life. Pushing myself physically and the excitement of pursuit is part of the “household life” (grihastha) stage. In this stage, my daily roles were that of care taker and educator to my three children and teacher to my students. I built and maintained a home, fulfilled social requirements and pursued goals (like yoga poses!). The work of discovering my soul purpose kept me on the run, up past my bed time socializing, constantly seeking knowledge and testing my physical boundaries. With no expectations, I would reach for more with Pitta passion, but typically be satisfied with what I had and could do. I was often surprised at my own strength, resilience and discipline, with occasions of doubt and exhaustion. For me, the householder stage was about co-creating loving energy in my young humans, finding like minded souls and designing a life where failed adventures are opportunities to gain self knowledge.
The Delightful Realization
Unlike beautiful Liz, I am not in my 30’s anymore. The forest dweller in me (vanaprastha stage of life) is subtly sneaking in. Having recently moved to rural Ireland, symbolically, I can relate to the idea of going into the forest. I’m happy to be done with material pursuits (I have my gong now!), sit out the busy schedule, and use the rain as an excuse to hermit. I’m still here for you and happy to talk over a cup of tea, or on WhatsApp . Where yoga asana continues to provide a foundation of physical strength and mobility, I accept that my peak poses have peaked. The inner voice speaks clearly. I can creatively and playfully explore my signature style of yoga. I recognize my physical limitations, and even celebrate that backing off the every day intense asana has actually allowed some grumpy places in the body to heal. Out of the absence of testing my limits in asana has grown an abundance of grace. This suites the aging process well. That’s fundamental now as the mirror has a gentle way of reminding me through gray hair and lines on my face – my body is mortal. Yet, I will preserve my earth suit to the best of my ability. My yoga has always relied diligently on pranayama and meditation. There is a gratitude for the potential to deeply embrace those facets in moving more toward spiritual pursuits.
My mastery is no longer worthy of Instagram. It is invisible in the form of embodiment. Perhaps next week I will decide to try to kick up into a handstand for old time sake; no cameras please. The mind camera is focused on sharing my life’s work in a way that might be helpful to someone.
Peace and Light, Megan
PS The photo is of a very happy me walking through Dublin across the river Liffey with my new gong!!!
Participate in my YouTube practice with Liz “Assessment and Solutions for the neck and Shoulders”: