Monthly Archives: April 2010

Why Do I Practice?

Every day I get yoga newsletters from around the planet in my email inbox. And, yep you got it-my inbox gets terribly full and usually I delete most of them. Sometimes I go on a marathon reading spree and it’s interesting to see there is often a pattern, unintended by the writers who are yogis from all different traditions with different intentions and very different tones.

One of the themes has been about burnout and how we’re all getting sick. I’m leaving that for another day. But recently lots of teachers have been writing about why we practice. Practice as in get on the mat when we’re not teaching and I’ve kinda been rolling that one around in my head and at one point I think I even promised a post on it someday.

So I’ve been thinking about why I practice. Recently someone asked me about what they assumed was my practice and it took me a very long time to understand her point. Finally I realized she thought I practice when I teach. To be sure I am on the mat and demonstrating poses, but that is not my practice. That is my work. My practice is when I’m alone with just my mat. My family may be meandering by and the dog may be at my feet, but in reality it’s just me and my mat. Continue reading


The Shift

I’m in the middle of a shift. I’ve been feeling it for a long time and FINALLY, I think I’m actually in it now. A few months ago it felt like I was a toddler learning to walk. I was on my feet, but too afraid to pick a foot up and move forward. I could even rock back and forth a little, hoping the momentum would propel me where I wanted to go. I was a bit willful, because I was pretty sure I knew where I wanted to go. I wasn’t just content to take a step, I had to make it across the room and if there were a few stairs I thought I’d tackle those too. You know how it is, thinking that learning to walk and climb stairs in the same day is not big deal.

Today, I see my folly. I was, after all, just a toddler. Today I think I’ve gained a little insight and am just in the joy of knowing how to walk.

Shifting? I’m not sure what happened, but life is humming along and I’m realizing that I’m humming with it. I’ve learned that if I just stop planning, predicting, manipulating, analyzing, and pushing I’ll get where I need to go a lot easier. I’ve learned to be still. REALLY still people. I was so still I could hear my breath, your breath and the breath of the woman across the street. I didn’t think about what I wanted, I listened for what I needed. I let the universe whisper in my ear, fold into my heart and wrap around me fuzzy and warm.

And I won’t say I did it gracefully. It sounded nice, didn’t it? But, no, in true Melissa fashion, I yelled at people, cried a lot, was exhausted, tired, achy, angry and sullen. I got so sick of myself, you, them, everyone that I really had no choice but to just shut up and be still. And on the day that I realized I had no choice my back hurt so  badly I didn’t want to move. The universe forced me to be still. And I found that I really liked it. Well, no. I was pissed I had to cancel my classes and do things completely differently for a few days. But then when I cleaned up my act and my back got better, I realized that being still had been the answer.

Be still. Stillness is such a gift.

Be still. It’s what I teach, but not often what I practice. I teach flow yoga-I’m not still in my practice and I’m rarely still in my life. I’ve had periods of stillness with great insight and thought Wow! I should do that more often. This time the lesson I learned is to be Be Still every day.

Be Still. When I am still, I am calm and centered. When I am still I’m not pushing, I can feel where I’m being pulled. Pulled is so much more powerful than pushed. When I push I am indulging my ego. I’m thinking about what would make me comfortable in this moment. My ego is always looking for comfort and isn’t really good at accepting the unknown. When I am pulled I am being guided by something larger than myself. I am being drawn to where my heart really wants to be, even if I can’t always see it. When I am pulled I am open and the unknown is a great adventure. And accepting the great unknown adventure is how I get to places that are more wonderful, more exciting, more gratifying than anything I could ever have planned.

And the shift is this wonderful place of acceptance. I can just be Melissa right here, right now. I don’t have to worry about rejection, abandonment, lonliness, exhaustion, failure or any of the other million fears I have. I’m honest, I know that there are only a few fears that come back over and over again to smack me up side the head. I can be okay with these too. I’m shifting and allowing myself to be transparent. I recognize my personal growth, but also that which  I offer to others by being transparent.

The shift finds me contemplating a wonderful, wonderful life with new and exciting challenges. The shift is what I was always craving. It was the thing that was missing, the thing that always made me feel I’d forgotten something.

I’m shifting, changing, growing, expanding and loving it all. Sometimes we don’t have to struggle. Sometimes the work is just to relax.  Today I’m releasing into all that is good and exciting, inspiring and fun. I may have to work harder tomorrow, but for today I’m just right here.