One of the many things students ask in class is “Again? We have to do it again?” My answer is always the same: unless you met your husband/wife/partner on your first date you ever had, than yes, again.
Take a handstand for example. A flawless handstand is a perfect balance of strength and flexibility in the body. A perfect balance of surrender and full concentration of the mind. I remind my students that the mentality of an athlete is all I know, and the only way anyone gets good at something is through repetition. The key is repetition with awareness. Each time you are trying to get better at something, you do so by repeating it. In a handstand it translates into the way you place your hands, the focused gaze, core, shoulders, hamstrings, flexibility, and so on.
In this sense, yoga is life training. Off the mat, how much awareness do you bring into your life? First, you must identify what it is that requires your awareness. Are you looking for a life partner? What red flags have you learned to observe from past experiences? Are you looking to be more positive with your thoughts? How aware are you of the words you use with yourself and others?
Whether you’re looking to become the next Michael Jordan, the next Meryl Streep or Frida Kahlo, I guarantee you that those people got where they did by studying their craft. By repetition with awareness. Better yet, look to become a better version of you!
On my flight back from Norway, I watched Doctor Strange for the third time. Every time I watch this film, something new sticks out for me.
Mordo: I wanted the power to defeat my enemies and you gave me the power to defeat my demons.
The Ancient One: We never lose our demons, Mordo. We only learn to live above them.
(Doctor Strange. Dir. Scott Derrickson. Marvel Studios, 2016. Film.)
For those of you who don’t know my story, watch “Not So Namaste” on my site and you will get a glimpse into my upbringing. I have a lot of demons and I would be foolish to think they will simply go away, but I will be damned if I allow them to run my life. As I’ve started my journey with plant medicine, and combine that with my ongoing yoga practice, I feel like I have enough tools to battle them.
The biggest tool is awareness. Awareness gives me the ability to pause and reflect instead of going straight to reacting. It gives me the gift to live out of intent more and more, and not simply out of habit. I am able to notice when I’m anxious and in my head, and to choose my breath. This gives me the power to choose, the power to trust my path instead of my fears, the power to choose me.
The longer we live, the more we realize life is not simply black and white. We collect a lot of baggage along the way but the power to choose yourself over your demons is always there. Identify your demons. Get to know them. Give them a good kick in the ass and send them on their merry way. Choose you instead. Over and over, rise up above your demons and choose you. Believe you’re worth it.