In this week's installment we continue on with the exploration of "What is Yoga?", this time with less philosophy and more day-to-day insights of how it might show up in your life as cambio. Yoga teacher Erika de la Cuadra shares recent experiences as well as some homework to reflect on how you can make the most of your practice and strive for excellence. But now, we want to hear from you! Send your experiences into Austin at
You Can Run But You Can’t Hide
Our theme this month is “What is Yoga?” Which feels perfectly fitting for me as I recently went an entire month unable to teach my regular Vinyasa class. When I returned, all I could think is…wait, what is yoga? Do I even know how to teach it anymore? All I could feel was the yin and yang: the push of commitment against the pull of my anxieties, the call to face obstacles head on in light of my desire to run away from my discomforts. There, within the delicate struggles of a human life, and the ability to see them for what they truly are, lies the yoga.
Something I discovered in the reunion is that you can run from the ways in which yoga challenges you. On the mat, you might avoid sinking deeper in a pose when your legs are shaking. You might shy away from practicing arm balances out of fear. Most commonly I see people avoid taking a break because of the anxiety produced by doing something different than what the teacher is saying.
There are lots of ways to run from yoga off of the mat as well. You might scramble for a sub when you are stressed and nervous to teach for the first time in a month (tapas). You might yell at your dog when she’s barking even though you know she’s just anxious (ahimsa). On another level, you might deny responsibility for your emotions. You might steer clear from a conversation that requires you to be vulnerable. Or allow yourself to slip back into unhealthy co-dependancies under the guise of balance and freedom. You might start falling asleep with the TV on again because the silence holds too many unknowns, or physically turn a blind eye when you see someone you love suffer because you’ve absorbed that pain so many times you’ve developed a gag reflex to it.
To be clear, there is no judgement in any of those statements, because frankly they are all a reflection of my life. In these ways I have been running from yoga. But there are so many ways in which I have shown up as well. I took risks. I engaged my legs in Warrior II when they were already shaking. I kicked up into handstand for the first time in months. I sang when my voice shook. I whispered my darkest fears - which took courage even though no one was around to hear. And I (finally) showed up to teach my class.
What I have learned so far is this: when you make yourself available to the yoga, your practice becomes more efficient and no matter where you are on your journey, you begin to push the boundaries of your excellence. You respect yoga by reducing the time it spends searching for you when you’ve run. And you will run, we all do.
But thank goodness that we can’t hide. Even if (and inevitably when) you give up on yoga, yoga doesn’t give up on you. But any conscious attempt to hide will render more work than it would be to seize the chance to show up when you have the opportunity. Kristen Mack recently regarded in her class that “yoga happens in millimeters”. Within the yin and the yang of the practice, the fleeing and the returning, the tangible progress often shows itself in this way: in millimeters. So all you need to concern yourself with is the process of showing up. Over time you will notice the slight changes in your Warrior II, the gentle rock forward in crow pose, and ultimately the ways in which you become a sweeter, more honest and loving person through your practice.
I challenge you to look at the ways you have run from the yoga recently. Whether in your physical practice or otherwise, make a list. (Extra but important challenge to do so without judgement. After, all, it’s just life and you’re only human.) Next, make a list of all of the ways that you have shown up for it. (Extra but important challenge to pat yourself on the back for these things, because being human is HARD and you’re rocking it.)