Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Yogini in the Making

I practice yoga several times a week and have done so consistently for some time now. Before consistency set in, I practiced yoga sporadically since being introduced to it many years ago. My path to yoga is a fragmented one leading me to call myself a yogini in the making.

In the modern sense, a yogini is a female practitioner of yoga. That could be any girl with a mat and a penchant for all things Athleta. In one ancient sense, yogini refers the sacred feminine force which has the ability to redeem in situations of utmost distress (among some other really handy powers) . I suspect I am somewhere in between.

In the making means I am working on it, learning more about yoga.  Yoga is a path that begins the first time you step on your mat. How long you stay at the beginning and how far you follow the path is up to you. There's no hurry in yoga. And where the path leads is another option strictly up to you.

I am taking a further step and this one leads down a 200-hour yoga teacher training path. My official training starts next week, meeting monthly from March to October for full weekends of yoga practice and teachings. The program application asked why I am interested in pursuing this training. This is part of my response:
I am pursuing this teacher training as a gift to myself and to my family. I am a stay-at-home mom, extreme volunteer and part-time photographer. I give my time and talents to others willingly but do a better job of that when I first have taken care of myself. I am a better wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend when I taken time to ground myself.
So Happy Yoga to my family, friends and me! My training is a gift to us all!

Without realizing it, I was referring to the ancient sense of yogini. Utmost distress can show up from time to time while being a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend. It sure is handy to have some redeeming abilities in these situations.

Yoga offers one such item for your yogini toolkit:  pranayama, the focus, control and use of breath. The theories on the benefits of breath control are varied and you could read endlessly about it. But the basic idea for starters is to just remember to do it...

You may not be able to twist yourself into that complex yoga pose, but 5 out of 5 yoginis agree, a yoga practice is a success if you focus on your breath, regardless of your postures. (Actually, none of the 5 yoginis would label a practice "a success". A practice just is. But for the purposes of this example, they went with it.)

That reminder is helpful off the mat as well as on it.  In moments of stress or high emotion, we are told to "take a deep breath." In the face of unreasonable expectations, we are warned to not "hold your breath." And in periods of extremes, we are reminded to "take time to catch your breath." These are all reminders to return to normal, even breathing when our respiratory systems, and everything else connected to it, have run amok. In those moments, call upon your inner yogini. Once breath is restored, all manner of wonderful things can happen like reason and clarity and truth...on the mat and off.

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