Adapting My Mind to a New Perspective about Yoga! by Chellyz View
I am trying to remember my first encounter with Yoga. There was a mat, people who may not have resembled me, the instructor, and a studio. I have practiced Yoga, or should I state, inconsistently participated the art form on the mat for years. However, it wasn’t until I enrolled in the 200hour Yoga Teacher Training Program offered by My Vinyasa Yoga and conducting the research that I had a newfound realization about the Practice. It is different for everyone and can be for anyone, especially for people who look like me!
It’s incredible how we discuss healing but are hesitant about finding methods to help us heal. 2020 was grueling, challenging, upsetting, and downright disrespectful. I’ve said this before but let me state this again, a national health crisis by the name of COVID-19, the ills of racism, the pain from witnessing police brutality, and the aggressive death angel who snatched my beloved granny by November 2020 was too much. Rewinding to June 2020, a confident being by the name of Imani @imaniizlove shared that there were Scholarships available for People of Color to obtain their 200YTT certification. After applying, I was one of the hundreds of recipients awarded the scholarship, but I was scuuuurrreedd, nervous, and excited all at once!
Subconsciously, I knew I wanted to be a Yoga Teacher. As I mature in life, healing and trying to maintain my sanity are essential values that I have adopted. Yoga would help me remain afloat, and I could assist others to stay above water with me. Still, after observing others on their journey and remembering my experiences with the Practice, I began to believe that it wasn’t designed for me (a woman of color). I would practice and study on and off, but I felt intimidated, so I didn’t take this opportunity as seriously as I should have.
Eventually, by the end of September 2020, the Holy Spirit allowed me to cross paths with Queen Yoga Pro Sis Jinave, who graduated from the program in January 2021. She taught me to start embracing my journey as a Yoga Teacher in Training, quit overthinking the process, and challenged me to create and present Yoga flows. She held me accountable! Also, she stressed Yoga is practiced on the mat and most definitely off the mat. By November and December, I read more and more about this Ancient Practice’s philosophy, but it wasn’t until January 2021 I became dedicated to practicing more consistently. By then, Queen Yoga Pro Sis Jinave @baldheadedbusiness introduced me to the P.H.D. Queen of Yoga Maya @naturallymaya. These two mentors were not placed on this Earth to play. They showed me that Women of Color in this world show up and show out to help and heal with Yoga by their definition and not how society “believes” it should be.
Since increasing my knowledge base about Yoga, I have learned that there are adaptations to various poses and different forms such as Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and Restorative. My brain was dancing with delight as I mentally absorbed the foundations and concepts of Yoga. I knew this was a lifetime journey that I can apply to myself daily. I was learning about Compassionate Self-Forgiveness in the program. I was retaining valuable information about the Yamas and Niyamas of Yoga which are the first two paths of the eight-limbed paths of Patanjali. These first two limbs can be described as the moral codes of conduct for Yoga. There are five concepts associated with the Yamas and five concepts related to the Niyamas. The Yama principle that stood out for me was Brachmachaya (moderation).
My path to enlightenment is ongoing. I am dedicated to building a stronger relationship with the Holy Spirit. I am integrating the philosophies of Yoga to help me to become a better human at home, work, and in the community. I am patient with myself as I learn about standing poses, inversions, flexions, and extensions. Earlier in my training, I eagerly tried to jump into bridge pose as a beginner and was traumatized for two weeks. It made me realize I must build myself to that point. Again, there’s that word MODERATION! Take your time with the Practice! Learn at your own pace.
Two years ago, I was at a Yoga Studio attempting to move into a pose (asana), and a lady turned and looked at me and stated, “Oh, you are doing it wrong.” I just looked at her and shrugged my shoulders. However, I wanted to yell and say, “Who are You? You don’t know me like that.” Any who, now, I know there is no right or wrong way to evolve or allow your body to move into a pose. We don’t have to adapt our bodies to Yoga when feeling bullied in a studio, watching some You Tube video, Instagram post or Tik Tok Challenge. However, Yoga must adapt to our bodies. When trained properly, we can safely make Yoga look like we want to as we allow ourselves to heal. People need to understand it is perfectly fine to “modify a pose!” I am sharing the fundamentals I am acquiring about the Practice with my teenaged daughter as she shows interest in Yoga. She recognizes when the world tries to convince her how Yoga “should” look, they are wrong.
I also learned about unwanted samskaras. Those are the negative thoughts I continue to welcome into my life after showing them the exit door. Yes, they kept walking back into my life and were holding on so tight that I almost strangled myself with constant self-doubt. I thought I had recovered from this, but I needed a gentle reminder to slow my thoughts, release the pain and breathe. I am becoming more self-disciplined when focusing on life goals. I will be a Yoga Teacher offering light in times of despair. I am strength. I will be compassionate to myself and others so we can welcome healing into our hearts and souls.
I am appreciative to all those who are helping me on this journey. I am thankful for the program and scholarships founder Michelle Young of My Vinyasa Practice, and the organization Yoga Pose has offered to allow scholars of color to obtain their 200YTT certification at no cost. I have delved deeper into understanding the foundations of the Practice and feel more confident. Yes, Yoga is inclusive, and there is space for every race and shape to enjoy its mental and physical healing powers! Namaste!
-Let your heart be full of new ventures that will lead you to the possibilities of limitless conversations!