Another benefit of practicing yoga is mastering the art of learning to trust yourself and rely on your own judgement. How do we learn this in a yoga class? In my experience it does not happen overnight. It occurs first through connecting to our breath, and then to our heart, and then learning to be attentive to our own feelings. As we practice attentiveness to our breath, heart, and feelings, we become more aware of our body. By getting back in touch with our body, we can become more compassionate in our yoga poses. Instead of looking around at others and what they are doing, yoga teaches us to listen to our body and be gentle. We learn to stay within the limits of our body instead of pushing past and injuring ourselves.
Once we get to the point of trusting our own judgement when we are “on the mat” in a yoga class, we can carry this practice out into the real world. I have found the more I practice yoga in my personal practice as well as in public classes, the better I am at making decisions which affect my daily life. I can pause and notice whether I want to go meet friends for lunch or decide I need some time by myself. My life has found more balance in work, play and personal time. I stop and reflect before I say or do something which may affect someone else or me negatively. Sometimes this practice is easy, and other times I make mistakes and take the wrong turn. I’m still learning.
With this idea of trusting yourself in mind, I want to share another Summer Solstice story. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I drove for hours to Espanola, New Mexico last month to participate in a Kundalini Summer Solstice Celebration. I was carrying the gongs for my teacher, Mehtab Benton, who was leading a workshop about Kundalini and The Gong. Mehtab told me it would be okay to park outside the large open-air tent where the workshop was to be held. I dropped off the gongs, parked my car in a regular parking space, then went back to get my car and pick up the gongs after the workshop.
As I came back out with gongs and paraphernalia in hand, a very red-faced man began shouting at me: “This is not a parking space….!!!” I was shocked at his anger and tried to explain I was told it would be okay to park here while picking up the gongs. Then he made a very profound statement: “You can’t do what other people tell you to do, you need to use your own head!” He also went on to tell me I was in a lot of trouble because the sheriffs were coming. “Wow,” I thought. “This is a great welcome and introduction to what they claim to be a loving and supportive community!” I moved my car, and nothing else happened. I didn’t get a chance to thank him for his great words of wisdom. Something that I will try to remember as I go through my life, is that I should always use my own head and think for myself. Just because someone says I can do something doesn’t mean I can do it. This was the first of many beautiful lessons I learned in the few days I was “up on the mountain” at the Summer Solstice Celebration.
All in all, the Summer Solstice Celebration was a good experience which taught me a lot of lessons. It is important to pause and look around. Is what I’m about to do or say wise and helpful? Could it negatively affect someone? According to the very angry man at Summer Solstice, I was causing an extreme fire hazard. If there was a fire or real emergency, I was blocking the entrance where a fire truck or ambulance would need to go.
Learn to trust yourself. Yoga can help you get started. Check out my calendar and come to one or my classes, or I can get you started with a private session. Fill out the contact page, and I will call or email you soon.