I know, I know, I know… it’s literally been months. Actually, 4 exactly. It’s been chaotic with school and everything, but it has been a very, I guess you could say, productive four months at least. As a brief update I now teach about 5 classes a week at Garden State Yoga, which you can see on my schedule. I also sub quite often. I’m much more comfortable teaching, but I still have so much to learn! Not just about teaching, but about me as a person. The past four months was a huge growing experience which forced me to accept and see things in myself that perhaps I did not want to. It also forced me to realize that the word “recovered” is way too black and white when it comes to mental health. I wanted to share what I wrote for the class that I taught on New Years Eve…

“The basis of yoga is the word ahimsa meaning non-violence to all, including the self. It doesn’t matter how advanced the poses you can do are if you cannot be friends with yourself first. I’ve spent most of my life really feeling terrible in many respects. I guess it’s sort of a vicious cycle. People treated me badly so I felt badly and thus treated myself the same way, which in turn, made people believe they could keep treating me badly. You get what you give and the energy I put out there was simply getting returned to me. Yoga, for me, has been transforming. It’s taught me not to judge myself and my past and my appearance and my personality but to simply accept them and keep marching on. To accept that I can be loved just as I am  by others because I love myself just as I am.

I often say that what you learn on the yoga mat you can take off of the mat with you and I truly believe this. Whether it’s learning that if you firmly root yourself down you can grow higher, or if you fall out of a pose you simply laugh at yourself and get back it, we can take it with us. It’s only yoga and realistically it’s only life. You miss a lot when you take yourself too seriously, you stifle the growing process. When you judge yourself in a pose or for needing to take a modification, you prevent the muscles from growing stronger, so that one day you can do the full pose with the correct integrity behind it. What we learn on the mat we can take off of the mat with us. My challenge for you for today’s class is to drop all judgments. Take this class as if it were the first you have ever taken in your life. Don’t judge the poses as good or bad, don’t judge yourself as being good or bad in the poses, just observe yourself today and see if that leaves you space to grow more.

Yoga is the journey that need not ever be made. In yoga we hold the belief that we already are awakened and beautiful but we just don’t realize it. So we embark on a path, a journey, to find happiness. We work on shaping our bodies, on making money, on finding intimacy and friendship. We search and search and search for enlightenment.  But what we don’t realize is that we are not searching for enlightenment but for the realization that we already all are enlightened and always have been.

The end of one year and the start of another is time that often breeds judgment. We look back on the past year and say “It’s been a bad year, I’ve gained X amount of weight, I’ve lost a job, I broke up with my significant other.” Or, we look back and say it’s been a good year. Either way we take our judgments of the past year in order to create expectations for the new.

The word Buddha is derived from bodhi meaning “awakened.” What many people don’t know is that Buddha’s mother’s name was “Prajna” which means curiosity. Before we can become awakened we need to be curious. If we stop seeing things as good or as bad but merely as interesting, we begin to embrace life with gentle inquisition, with a curiosity not linked to a purpose. Life can become a path of seeing rather than fixing. If we keep working on fixing what’s wrong we miss what’s right.  So don’t judge and fix, but observe and learn. What do you fill the space with when something slips through the cracks of your habitual routine, when you believe something has gone wrong? Where do you go? Do you sink into depression? Do you aggress? Shift your view. Be curious, what can you learn? My challenge to you with the last few hours of 2009 is to drop all judgments of the past and to make no expectations for the future. To simply be curious today, right now, and tomorrow, the New Year. Find loving compassion for yourself. Explore life without a specific purpose in mind.”

Much of this I learned from David Nichtern and Cyndi Lee at Om Yoga in Manhattan when I attended their workshop “Yoga Body, Buddha Mind.”

I’m currently involved in a 40 Days to Personal Revolution Program at Garden State Yoga. It’s requiring me to meditate twice daily, to take 4 studio classes a week, to do 2 home practices a week, and to be mindful of my eating. I also attend one weekly meeting. We are into the second week now. The studio practices are easy breezy… the home, not so much because I’m always at the studio. The meditation comes and goes… oh, and we have to journal, which I have been doing and enjoying. The mindful eating is interesting for me though… just because what I realized at the last meeting is that when it comes to Americans and food, I certainly form the minority. Food doesn’t call to me in the middle of the night, I don’t just eat because food is there… in fact, for a long time, it’s been quite the opposite. I actually now feel that I have a generally healthy relationship with it… the other night I ordered sweet potato fries and ate until I was full and then I was done. Sounds small, but its a big moment for a recovering anorexic.