I have noticed in yoga class, when I sit cross legged to meditate, my hips don’t hurt and sitting feels delicious. I never thought that would happen….ever! And then I realized, at the close of 2020, I have been practicing yoga for 22 years and it has brought me so much joy over all this time.
And, it made me think, it’s time to give myself a yoga Oscar in a very special category of most unlikely to crave stillness. I was born with an internal move a lot meter. Moving makes me feel calm and balanced and happy and so sports are my drug of choice. I’m a self-professed serotonin junkie. So, I never thought stillness could bring calm and joy too.
Not only can I now sit cross legged without pain, I can sit without wanting to jump up. In fact I crave sitting in my cross legged yoga pose. I never thought in my lifetime I would ever experience the delight of stillness. I am so grateful to have arrived at this moment.
So, just like the Oscars, this yoga Oscar comes with a short acceptance speech.
Dearest Teachers and Yoga Community:
“Thank you, thank you for allowing me to gift myself this Oscar for the least likely getting to stillness category. I couldn’t have done this without you. This particular Oscar isn’t about the best down dog competition to be sure, it’s about sitting. And it has taken me 22 years of practice to embrace sitting still.
I have been working since 1998 on my yoga practice. Studying yoga for the duration, with a stretch of teaching for 10 years all the while practicing 3 times a week — well that’s a lot of yoga. And no, yoga is not a fad as my friend Deb C. loves to say, Yoga is Life.
So I’ve decided as 2020 closes to give myself a yoga Oscar and the first thing I want to do is to thank my teachers.
My first teacher Jennifer Monness brought her teaching to our little town of Larchmont the year I sold my publishing business. Perfect timing… I needed to do something to fill the space.
Jen instantly filled my mornings with stretching and yoga philosophy and humor. Back then I could not touch my toes. I would sweat profusely in down dog. My arms hurt and my wrists did too. Practicing breath work seemed like a bit of a bore. But then it wasn’t. After a few months, the mundane became interesting, the details of a pose became fascinating. My racey mind was riveted on details which I normally avoided. And the silver lining was, Jen and I became friends and we spent lots of time on and off the mat sharing our lives during those first 10 years.
I want to thank my teacher Patanjali for his roadmap for life and The 8 Limbs of Yoga.
The study of Patanjali and The Yoga Sutras which contain a set of observances and practices guided my spiritual journey.
I would share my learnings with my kids who were just starting high school and it was then I studied non-reactive behavior and lots of other pearls which made parenting my teens a calmer experience. I studied philosophy, meditation and breathing and for someone whose go to outlet was biking, running, and skiing and talking, this quiet reflective repetitive yoga practice was a monumental challenge with unforeseen benefits.
Yoga calmed and centered me when chaos struck home. After dealing with a rock your world, turn your life around tragic loss, it was my yoga students, and in truth, my entire yoga community at the Larchmont Temple teaching site whose energy brought me hope.
Just 2 weeks after losing my husband, I was having an out of body experience in the yoga space I taught in, which was filled with 100 people from my community, all in down dogs. I don’t know how, but I was guiding them through poses. While my voice called the poses, my heart lapped up their breath and energy. As I walked around the space and listened to their breathing, I felt hope and strength.
And so it continued. Teaching anxious teens yoga was an incredible gift which allowed me to understand more deeply the concerns of overcommitment and fear and body image issues that 15 year old girls struggle with. Yoga brought me that.
And when I met my second husband Bill and went to Boston and had no community there to hold me close, it was Jojo Flaherty at Yoga Down Under that became my grounding guide. From 2006 until today I take her classes and feel whole and soothed and challenged and connected. Thank you JoJo.
Right about now if it were the real academy awards they would be playing loud music to move me off stage. “Get the Hook.” But no, I’m not done.
I became part of a beautiful community on Martha’s Vineyard when I was invited by the most beautiful friend full of heart and soul, my friend Jill. She invited me to join her to practice with the masterful teacher, Rob Sidoti. I am beyond grateful. We practice 3x a week with a small group of friends, and share our stuff on our mats as each class opens. We console one another, celebrate one another and then we begin.
Life Is Yoga. It is truly that for me. And I could not have done this without my amazing teachers, Jen, JoJo and Rob. I could not have done this without my teenagers and grown up students. I could not have done this without being invited into a community of yogiis.
So thank you for this Oscar. I am so excited to have received it. I can’t wait to sit down now and be still!