This weekend in teacher training everyone was asked to journal on their WHY – why do you practice yoga? And why do you want to teach yoga? Each trainee’s WHY will be the basis from which she develops her voice as a teacher and will be what she revisits for inspiration in her own practice or teaching.
I did this exact exercise when I went through my own 200 hour teacher training and then again when I opened Hometown Yoga and later Homegrown Yoga. Before stepping into the work, I wanted to get clear on why I was doing it, and I revisit my WHY regularly to remind myself of why the work is worth it.
I thought sharing my WHY here would provide you with some insight into Homegrown Yoga, and why we do what we do at the studio:
WHY I PRACTICE YOGA: Practicing yoga gives me the self-awareness, self-trust and courage to create the life that I want to lead. Within a few weeks of starting yoga, I realized that I always held tension in my lower back. Within a few months, I recognized that I responded to uncomfortable situations by escaping (usually in self-destructive ways.) Within a few years, I saw how I was making life decisions based on others’ expectations. And what’s wild is that if you had asked me if I did any of these things at the time, I would have said absolutely not. I wouldn’t have been lying either. I was simply moving through my life on autopilot – continuing to do things because that’s how I had always done them.
Through the practice of yoga, I developed an awareness of my thoughts and behaviors. Then, many many MANY practices later, I cultivated the trust and courage to act on this new sense of awareness. I stay with yoga because I know that my path is just beginning and that this sense of awareness, trust and courage will continue to help me grow and be in creation of the life that I want to live.
WHY I TEACH YOGA: I teach yoga because I want to change the world. Small goal, I know =) In college, I earned my degree in Political Science and Rhetoric with ambitions to enter politics. After a few short months interning on Capitol Hill, I decided that was definitely not my path. So I changed direction completing my Master’s in Journalism. If I wasn’t going to be a part of what I thought was a broken system, then I would report on it until it was changed. Again after a few months, my plans changed. Fast forward even more years (and lots of gratitude for my parents who never lost faith in me!) I became a yoga teacher.
As I look back at this seemingly random path, I realize that my WHY never changed – I just changed how I was going to do it. Or as Rumi said – “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” I believe yoga has the ability to change lives and in turn the world, and that’s what I want my path to be. Plus, earning a living wearing yoga clothes and saying chaturanga 50+ times a day is pretty hard to beat =)
WHY I OPENED HOMEGROWN YOGA: Self transformation requires a sense of connection with others and a feeling of support and safety. Yes, yoga is a personal practice, AND it is a practice that, in my opinion, is strengthened and deepened through connection with others. The practice of yoga asks a lot of us – it asks us to take risks and push ourselves; it asks us to surrender and be vulnerable; it asks us to choose what is true over what is easy. And to me, that is really really hard to do alone. Homegrown Yoga is a community where we can do this work together and know that we will get encouraged when we fail and will get cheered on throughout our journey.
As we enter the Summer, it is easy to fall out of the routine of getting on your yoga mat or sitting for a few minutes of quiet stillness. I invite you to write down your own WHY and come back to it anytime you need a reminder of why this work is so very worthy of your time.