Yoga for the Indigenous Goddess
My yoga practice has been a journey. It has been difficult and emotional but also extremely rewarding and fulfilling. At times my body has said no, and my mind has said Hell no! You can’t do this. I am very thankful to yoga for helping me recognize my inner struggles and how they have manifested in my body. When I started yoga I was young and naive. I came for vanity and physical strength. I wanted to hit the most difficult poses and look pretty while on and off the yoga mat. These are the same reasons I worked out in general when I was younger (in my 20s). Although, I still do workout for those reasons (TBH) now it is a small reason for why I do it. I like the physical strength but I love the release of energies.
Once I stepped away from the sweat, burn and packed popular classes I found a yoga class that practiced presence, mindful movement and intentions. (I do live in the city and we have easy access to yoga classes.) This changed my life. Instead of showing up to burn and sweat I was showing up because my mind needed peace. My mind needed a few moments of full body presence and mind-body connection. As I experienced this form of meditation I wanted it more and more. The traditional practice of yoga is physical, mental and spiritual. There are many types of yoga. Many of which are far removed from traditional practices.
I have always tried to be aware of my responsibility to take care of myself and support my inner wellness. At a young age sports and athleticism became a form of therapy for me because they allowed me to escape from the chaos of life. Running was my first form of therapy and peace. I ran to heal and escape. This was a survival technique I learned to use. Chaos at home -- hit the door and go for a run. Problems with my family -- go run. It was a great coping mechanism that probably saved my life. However, as an adult I felt like I had to stop running away and escaping. I had to learn a new coping mechanism to deal with life. And the reality was I had an injured knee that kept me from running.
Yoga showed me how to connect with my body. Instead of escaping I learned how to embrace the chaos of my mind and let it go for moments at a time. I learned I could not escape the thoughts, hurt or emotions I was feeling. I began to notice the thoughts in my mind that would surface regularly. We have constant worries and distractions in our daily lives. Most of which create unnecessary stress. Stress is a stealer of joy. It brings you tight shoulders, a stiff jaw and heavy hips. I made an attempt to let my inner thoughts, past pains and future worries go so that I could be fully present in my body. Rather than having a busy mind full of chatter and noise I let the thoughts and feelings settle. For moments at a time my mind could be quiet and clear. It sounds a lot like meditation, and it is.
We can create an awareness and presence in our bodies and minds. I imagine that this ability to consciously settle our minds was something that our ancestors practiced. Instead of doing it for a set amount of time, like a one hour class, I think that they mostly lived in this way. It really is a matter of plugging into yourself. It is a practice of letting go of all of the external stimulants and distractions. This is truly a practice in that it requires your energy, time and consistency.
What began as a form of physical escape has become a way to connect with myself. I have to add that I am a supporter of any and all physical activities. Not just yoga. Yoga can be expensive and difficult to access in some communities. All movements that are mindful and create a greater self awareness are key. Physical ability and wellness look and feel very different from one person to another. One persons yoga is another persons basketball, trail riding, running, weight lifting, walking, sheep herding or hiking. When you find that feel good that strengthens you, do it and do it more often! As we strengthen our connection to ourselves we are embracing the Indigenous Goddess inside.