Where Are You Headed?

This yoga venture is a singular one. When I stepped into my first yoga class in 2004, what stroke me the most was how on earth making shapes with my body could possibly make me any happier.

That first class did not leave a significant impression on me. It felt alright, but still, I failed to connect with the dynamics of what we did. And the friend I went with fell asleep and ended up snoring in the final relaxation. Not very encouraging.

After exploring different mind-body disciplines, I came back to yoga a few years later. I was in the midst of a personal crisis, one of those times when one is forced to reconsider the course of life. Yoga popped up again, and I picked it up. It felt different this time. I wasn't blinded by it (yet), but for some strange reason, I was hooked.

In 2010 I discovered Ashtanga yoga. I liked it, but the fixed sequence of postures felt daunting and a bit tasteless. Two years went by mixing up Ashtanga with other disciplines, with running and the gym. Then in the Fall of 2011, I started to wake up increasingly earlier to do a few Sun Salutations before heading off to work. I was in Dublin back then, working in Business Development for a world-class technology vendor. The energy that those 15 minutes of practice gave me kept me going for the entire day. I started to overachieve in my numbers, I felt focused, vital, and connected.

These 15 minutes became 30, then 45, then 90. If I missed one day of practice, I would feel uncomfortable and uneasy. And so, I started to give up on other things: the running (it messed up my knees and tightened my hips!), the gym (so tedious!) and other disciplines of yoga (now being used to doing my own thing, being led in a class seemed unnecessary, disturbing and deeply annoying).

Anyway, I became an Ashtanga groupie. And that was the case for a few years. Then, in 2018, after a series of events that changed my life and my outlook on the world for good, things started to shift. I'm convinced that the practice and the teaching saved me from severe dysfunction. I had devoted myself to a worthy cause, to something that made sense to me, and so, in the middle of chaos, I could still see the beauty of life and have hope.

Nevertheless, there was still much confusion. And yet, there is.

I got used to living without some answers. To soften up. To let life happen. I saw through my illusions, my inner demons, the ways how I fooled myself, and how these were responsible for my unhappiness. In short, I realised I was being a victim of my own ignorance.

Ever since, I have made of my daily practice a time for genuine, honest self-search. Day after day, I step on my mat, not knowing what will come up. And I take that as an opportunity to observe, to listen, to come to terms with the changing nature of reality. Often I'm uncomfortable, not liking what I see. But hey, no one said it would be easy.

Along with honesty and pragmatism, compassion and patience have become essential qualities that I have come to cultivate. The practice is just a tool. The intent is what matters. The willingness and the readiness to look, to stay with what comes up and to connect the dots.

Then, after some time, you get to know your mind better, your soul better, what your triggers are, what pushes your buttons, the stories that you tell yourself. In short, you get to see through your bullshit. It is very hard at times, for the ego wants always to be right. But that's hardly the case. We are blind, and as long as we are blind, there is no knowing, just fantasy.

Our future is not carved in stone. Even if there are certain tendencies within us, we create our circumstances. With every decision we make, we are going somewhere. Sometimes our thoughts, our actions, and our unresolved emotions push us deeper into the pit. Sometimes though, we manage to find a way out.

Hence, my question to you this week is, where are you headed?

x Carmen