Yoga

A Renewal of Purpose, A Reigniting of the Soul

Yogi seated with hands in anjali mudra
Cropped shot of two young women sitting together and meditating with their palms together after an indoor yoga session

As the days grow hotter and the world looks to put itself back together again, finding the space and time to catch our breath has become one of the more daunting tasks. Much like Humpty Dumpty, who apparently had a great fall, according to our storybook time, so too do we look to renew and reclaim a sense of security and joy for life. As we each put the pieces of who believed ourselves to be in 2020 into a new way of moving forward in 2021, we find ourselves navigating life with a deeper awareness of our soft and cracked spaces that still feels all too raw.

With a year of lockdown due to a global pandemic, many of us may be asking how do we put the pieces back together again? As we begin taking up more space than we had known in recent months outdoors, many of us may be asking how to connect to a sense of joy, safety, and excitement for life. And, for others, even the thought of safety and joy together may not feel as easily accessible for a number of reasons. It can still feel like a struggle to access these states of being.

Challenging and confusing, after a long haul of having our physical bodies and minds hammered with stress, anxiety, and mental exhaustion many of us feel like Humpty Dumpty after the fall. The constant wondering and worrying for our wellbeing and sense of safety, leaves us desiring a reboot in our lives as we continue to contemplate our place in a changing new world. Here in this void of new beginnings, we have the opportunity to recalibrate and reassess what our hearts truly desire. Out of the ashes of what we once knew to be firm, unmoving, and stable, we are invited to examine who we will be and how we might go about it.

Rising From The Ashes

This past year has taught us a great many lessons. In my opinion, one of the greatest lessons has been the importance of renewing our internal fire from the ashes of disruption, disillusion, and dismay. To allow ourselves to feel all the feels from a place of non-attachment and to witness the stories and narratives we once were so attached to dissolve to dust, is our invitation to sit with the discomfort in our lives. And, in typical dualistic form, life also invites us to connect to the light that lives within each of us and allow that light to shine. The universe shows us our opportunity to bring to life new dreams, new hopes, and new ways of being from a perspective of inclusion and community. We have literally been to hell and back as a collective.

And what a remarkable gift we’ve been given, this invitation to return home to ourselves, a journey home to the heart, where the essence of who we are, beyond form, remains untouched by the physical world. In case we missed the cliff note version or the email, our invitation to embody Svadhyaya [self-study] became self-evident at the start of springtime. We were invited to through our Yamas [moral obligations] and Niyamas [observances] while practicing pranayama [breathing practices] all as a means step into Satya [truthfulness]. The time had come for each of us to review how we had taken up space in the world and if that version of ourselves was still the version we wanted to embody.

Connection Within to Passion and Joy

We could no longer ignore the truth that our liberation is tied to one another, no more than we could ignore the truth that breath is life and without it, we cease to exist. Since we learned intent does not equal impact, we are all having our own experience with “coming back to life” after a year of lockdown and the path can feel bumpy for some and downright scary for others. Oftentimes, the answers feel slow in coming, or non-existent depending on where you are in your journey. And yet, yoga greets us even here, in this space of uncertainty, meeting us exactly where we are on and off our mat. The realization that the answers we seek live within us and within our practice are both liberation and comforting.

It gives birth to hope and joy when we recognize something similar to the breath of life. Life will continue to go on and our job, first and foremost, is to simply show up for it. In the same way, we stand in Tadasana, so too do we stand firm in who we know ourselves to be and clear on what our limitations is in any given moment. Similar to when we give ourselves permission to be both a work in progress and eternally divine on our mat, moving with breath through the asana practice, so too can we have compassion for this new version of ourselves we are still trying to figure out both internally and externally in the world. Same as we allow the practice of Sama Vritti to expand breath in our bodies, so too do we allow our dreams and hopes to take up space in our hearts.

Though boundaries have shifted and the stories about who we are and what our place is in the world may have changed, what remains is the awareness that we each have a soul purpose for existing and our one job is to live into that purpose with heart, mind, and soul. How we choose to answer the call is entirely up to each of us. Whether this looks like following a detox ritual, stepping into sacred space for an honest evaluation of yourself next to the Yamas and Niyamas, or committing to a daily practice of meditation, we have a choice as to how we will nurture and nourish our hopes, dreams, and inspirational ideas for the good of all.

Reshaping The World in Liberation

The point is to allow our self-opportunity to learn from what has been and what has happened in the past. This is our chance to shape a new world that is inclusive of all beings, honoring of the lineages of yoga in our practice, humble in action with regard to how we take up space, high in accountability in our eight limb path, and strong in integrity with who we say we will be first to ourselves, then to our community, and next to the world.

If there is one thing yoga teaches us, it is that this is a practice of liberation. Yoga is one path in our journey toward liberation releasing any limitations of our mind, body, and soul. When our world paused so too were we given time to pause and recognize what in our lives was not working toward our individual and collective liberation and what aligned with our purpose for being here on earth. As we embark on this next leg of our journey, may we find the courage to embrace our tapas and give life to that which is of the greatest good for all.

This is our yoga in action. This is skillful action as my dear friend Michelle Johnson often says.