I’m often asked if I used to be a dancer, a gymnast or had some kind of physical training as a child after people see me practice yoga. They are surprised when I share with them that I was actually one of the most inflexible and least graceful girls in ballet – which is what made me quit. Instead I was the tomboy who played softball and soccer. I was heavier and was never limber or light on my feet. People never believe me when I say this, but it’s the truth. It wasn’t until I started practicing yoga 16 years ago that my body changed entirely throughout the process and I lost about 12 pounds.
I remember my first class with an 108 year old swami named Swami Bua. I was astonished at how challenging the class was and how much of the class I couldn’t do. This left me no choice but to prove to myself that I could do it. I started yoga that day and stopped all other forms of exercise. I practiced and practiced. In the first year I did yoga I spent 6 months practicing for 3 hours a day. I took private classes. I studied at home. I read books because there wasn’t much information on the internet like there is now. My body started to move in ways that it never could before. I was getting stronger, becoming leaner and more flexible. It just took daily practice.
On the physical note, people ask me how long it took me to get my handstand or other physical feats and I honestly don’t always remember exactly how long because all I remember is the consistent effort I would put into it without really knowing when it would happen. I suspect that from day 1 until the first day that I felt a minor float in my handstand would be like 8 years or so. Regardless, it’s always a work in progress and my body is aging and changing every day.
On the spiritual note, my ultimate desire it to become enlightened. I know that’s quite a goal but I genuinely feel that one day it might happen. Especially if I just stay the course and stick to what I know serves me and others best. All my efforts and work is with that intention in mind… how can I get closer to my true self. There have been times that I have been impatient, frustrated and downright pissed in my path; that I wasn’t as close as I expected. But through time I learned the ignorance and childishness of this frustration and am now not so hard on myself. I trust that the practice works and I am in constant reflection of my self.
My physical practice helps my body stay strong and flexible and my mind stay focused. My yoga studies help me stay grounded in order to make better decisions. So the main way to tackle any challenge is have conviction on your path. Stay the course and don’t get distracted and lured by external shiny objects. Most importantly, don’t look for the results. Don’t be the gardener who plants a seed today and digs it up tomorrow to see how much it has grown. The results will come when they are ready and those feats are just little signs to let you know that you are on the right track.