When I rediscovered yoga in my adult life, I began to come home to a complex self I hadn't realized it was okay for me to be. Yoga knit together my creativity, my love of movement, my expressiveness, my bookishness, and my spiritual life. Yoga brought these diverse aspects of who I was into relationship. This had unexpected results.
At first yoga just brought me ease. I was so stressed out from the New York art world that I initially couldn't keep my eyes closed in Savasana. I lay on my back, staring past the metal basement beams of Crunch gym up toward the ceiling that vibrated from the bass beat of workout music.
Once I figured out how to keep my eyes closed in Savasana, my practice brought me delight. The landscape of my inner body and mind became rich and fertile, with endless space for exploration. The first surprising result of my yoga was that boredom ceased to exist as an experience for me. That may sound trite or silly, but it was actually quite amazing. In the subway, in a doctor's waiting room, on a long airplane ride: I had practices to do and things to think about. Movement. Mantra. Meditation. I learned to carry my universe around with me, and to love being there.
The next result was that I retreated from the highly public politics of the art world to rediscover the creative self residing within the artist who showed up at obligatory gallery openings, coaxing herself to have conversations that had little to do with art. I was happy in a way I hadn't been in years, drawing in my studio and then taking a handstand break or wandering through Chelsea Galleries with friends, really looking at the work and sharing ideas. My art making practice became both delightful and meditative in a way it hadn't been for a while. I realized that I needed to practice yoga in order to live my life fully and meaningfully.
My yoga practice established a rhythm that translated to my art making practice, and suddenly everything began to flow. I gave up trying to keep my yoga world and art world separate, no longer caring if my emphasis on yoga damaged my art world credibility. I released my old constrictive definition of who I was and let some fresh and unfamiliar definition take its place. I found myself in a newly formed paradigm of hybrid artist-yogi-writer. All the things that I had previously struggled to resolve, I now simply let be. Instead of trying to control them, I let them speak to me. I became better able to listen to myself. I became better able to listen to the world.
Yoga helped me to get out of my own way. It gave me space and then perspective. It enabled me to see myself from a new vantage point. It helped get me back in touch with my essential creative self.
Here's the thing: Your yoga will reorder you whether you want it to or not. The moment you commit to a life practice that draws your physical, intellectual, and emotional selves into constant conversation, you relinquish some degree of control. You embrace flux and uncertainty. And this is good because uncertainty is the nature of things and if you can live in the question, you open the floodgates of possibility. And possibility gives us access to everything we know and to everything we don't know. It gives us access to the experience of limitlessness.
Sometimes we have to burn things down to make way for the new. This is frightening. It is an erasure of the trappings of the familiar. The ashes may leave their mark, but what was there has been relegated to the past. Practicing yoga creates tapas, heat. Heat is a catalyst for change. You throw everything you are and have been into the fire of your practice, and when the ashes settle, the smart thing to do is to move forward, mindful of where you've been and open to what might be.
You can only move forward. Practice yoga to live your authentic life.