When the yoga hits the road…

In 2014/15, as I was doing my Level 1 Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training, a whole series of events kicked off in my personal life that felt impossible to deal with. The first of these was my grandmother, with whom I had a complicated relationship, deciding to end her life via physician assisted suicide. My parents and grandfather helped her navigate the paperwork, and I will never forget the feeling of hearing that she’d been given the provisional green light to continue the process, that it was actually a real possibility for her to end her life by choice. I got this news right before one of my intensive KYTT long weekends, and was so distraught and emotional that I missed the first of the 3 days. But I was back for the second day, and when a friend gave me a warm hug, asking how I was doing, I completely lost my composure. Sobbing onto her shoulder, I wasn’t aware of much beyond the pain I was feeling, until I noticed that there was a circle of women in white around me, that suddenly I was at the center of this enormous group hug, being physically and emotionally held by every person there. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life, and that feeling of being seen, held, and loved through something that felt overwhelmingly sad and difficult is one of my most cherished memories of my Level 1 teacher training experience.

Sometime around that experience, I started referring to times like that as the moments when the yoga hits the road. When stressful circumstances arise that feel impossible, those are the times that, for me, a strong yoga and meditation practice can hold me steady. As I went through the agonizing decision to end my first marriage, it was my practice that stayed steady. No matter how hard things got, I always kept my sadhana, even when I cried through the whole thing. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, and it felt like every part of my being was in agony as we moved through the process. At the time, I was practicing the Compassion Kriya, and I stayed with it throughout that summer, crying through it sometimes, always feeling held by it.

This last month, the yoga has been hitting the road for me big time. As my parents have been dealing with their individual and collective issues and making big changes, I have kept my sadhana – even if it’s just chanting Japji every day. Over the last two weeks, there have been so many times when things felt impossible, when the pain of seeing two people whom I love so dearly suffer has felt completely overwhelming. I have been crying a lot. I also added a strong kriya and powerful meditation to my sadhana a few days ago, and it is already making a difference.

September always feels like a transitional time to me – summer ends, kids go back to school, routines that we may have let go over the summer come back, and it’s something of a new year for me. And it’s another perfect moment to observe the yoga hitting the road. It’s wonderful to have a strong practice when things are flowing and feeling easy in life, because that prepares us for the challenges of staying steady when things get tough, when the rubber meets the road. The more our self-care habits are rituals when life is going great, the more they will be there for us when things shift and there seem to be challenges every way we turn.

So let your yoga be there for you in good times and bad. And it doesn’t have to be physical yoga. Maybe your yoga, your practice of union, is your time at the gym. Maybe it’s your time in nature, or creating space to work on your art, or make music. Whatever that thing is, the one that lights you up, let yourself have a daily experience of it. Creating space in your day for that, even if it’s only 3 minutes, has the potential to change your life. Let it fortify and strengthen you when things are rough, and when things are easy let it fill your soul so that your light can overflow to brighten up this world of ours.