… this won’t be anything new if you practice with me. But it’s about how I got here.
Tibetan Buddhist Pema Chodron writes about following our path at the risk of our own lives.
She’s not talking about our actual mortality. She’s talking about a willingness to be deeply, radically honest with ourselves, even if that honesty threatens to alter our life plan or poke holes in what we thought was our rock-solid identity.
Can we bravely ask whether the daily decisions we’re making, or maybe ones we made (or were made for us) a long time ago are still the right path forward? Can we listen to our gut even when it’s telling us things we don’t want to hear?
Sometimes in class I say “you’re not going to lose who you are. You’re only going to lose who you’re not.” I remember a time when I genuinely thought ‘angry’ was who I was. I came by it honestly (as many of us do), and we got very comfortable together, my anger and me. So comfortable in fact that when my yoga practice started taking root in my body and I started to feel little lighter, I actually had the thought “But if I’m not angry, who am I?”. It’s normal to feel threatened by a process that challenges the identity you’ve built and it’s normal to want to protect it. But here’s the thing- If it’s really you, it doesn’t need protecting. You’re not going to lose who you are. You’re going to lose who you’re not.
We come together in our supportive yoga family to do this work. We loosen up the stagnant, compacted energy in our bodies. We cultivate fire because it takes strength to stop living by other people’s rules and to resist the centrifugal force shoving us back to the safety of the known. We breathe space into whatever comes up and observe it with humor, kindness, and curiosity.
We allow ourselves permission to ask the very risky question… “Am I, through and through, who I’m living as?”
Radical Yoga is an invitation to view the self as a living process and not a final result, which takes real bravery, not practiced bravado. Radical Yoga cultivates the humility needed to recognize a gift when it comes in the form of an obstacle or an unrealized expectation. It builds the inner strength necessary to reject commonly accepted sources of misery and weariness. Radical Yoga is your willingness to strip the building down to the studs if the structure doesn’t fit who you are, or who you are meant to become.
These are things I’ve gotten from my yoga practice, and I want them for you. I don’t want you to outsource your wellbeing anymore. I want you to recognize conditioning when you see it and to not fear setting it aside to follow your own compass. And I want you to know that you’re not alone in thinking that maybe there’s “more” to life. Lots of us are there with you, myself included, and the body is my favorite doorway inward. It’s time to put down who you’re not. Let’s go.