What Does Your Practice Mean to You?
Now, this is yoga.
My yoga journey has been evolving ever since I was first introduced to a hot yoga studio when I was around ten years old. My aunt was a yoga teacher and I was so excited for our sleepovers across the US border where I could try a little yoga, play with her seven cats, and eat some delicious vegetarian meals.
One day, she brought me to a hot yoga studio for a class with one of her yoga teachers. I was uber excited to try a class with one of HER teachers! When I walked in and started flowing, I felt my skin was melting off of me and that I was having something similar to a stroke (if I knew what that even was) and had to leave the room with tears in my eyes.
Not exactly what you would call ‘the yoga high’.
Throughout my years of hating exercise and eating junk, to my revelation of loving exercise and being a health nut … yoga found me again.
This time in Hawaii.
I had begun to practice more yoga in my local studios (yes one of them was hot, I got used to the heat and in fact, loved it) not only for the sweat, but for the added bonus of stilling my mind when I was stressed and burnt out from balancing my commitments of school, volunteering and working.
I started a steady daily practice for a year before leaving for Hawaii. My yoga internship in the rainforest consisted of two months of yoga every day, with workshops to enhance my practice. It not only consisted of vinyasa, but also included restorative, yin and kundalini.
My intense pitta-like nature fell in love with inversions as I practiced for hours each week perfecting my forearm stand. But my teachers in Hawaii taught me how to also slow down, relax and release control … control over my diet with my orthorexic tendencies and control over my body, as it wanted less intensity and pleaded for more yin. Kundalini challenged my mind and strengthened my discipline … it allowed me to reach new levels of stillness and presence into my life.
Yoga was starting to come alive off the mat for me as it entered into my struggles and challenges and made me stronger physically, mentally and emotionally.
Yoga also transitioned from not only being a physical and mental practice for me, but became my time when I could connect with God and listen to the plans he had for my life. My beliefs were also challenged, as I was raised a Christian, however, when I entered my first Jivamukti class and began chanting to Gods and Goddesses that I wasn’t familiar with, nor could connect with on a spiritual level, I felt out of place and internally conflicted and confused.
Throughout my time in Hawaii, I also heard others’ perspectives of God which made me step out of my neat and tidy narrow-minded Christian box and explore the symbolism, love and acceptance of every religion and spiritual practice just as it was. That’s when mantras started to take on new meanings and come alive for me … they allowed me to enter into new states of consciousness and endless love for others and myself.
Never did I have the thought that I wanted to be a yoga teacher until I left Hawaii and started teaching fitness classes back home. I knew something was missing from teaching primarily physical classes (with a little mental to get you through the quad-screaming parts), and knew that spirituality was still a huge part of me. Spirituality and teaching lessons of patience, healing, love, and forgiveness were things that I knew were part of my calling that I needed to share with others.
I knew that stepping into a teacher role would mean so much more and I was ready to dive ALL in.
I was seeing my own practice evolve, and discovered that shaping creative vinyasa sequences was part of my passion. I had the confidence, as well as a sound(er) mind to start my journey as a yoga teacher traveling around the world.
That’s when I found Kula.
Not only was completing my website internship and then being hired by Kula liberating enough, but completing my 200 hour yoga teacher training in Peru with them, was exactly the knowledge and tools I needed to share my message with the world. Teaching holistic yoga classes that incorporate music, fun flows, breathing techniques and meditation finally spoke to my soul in a new way.
My heart is so full knowing that I have the power to influence others’ practices and perspectives.
So what does your yoga practice mean for you?
Maybe you practice yoga because you love to sweat and make beautiful shapes with your body … and that is okay.
Maybe you practice yoga because your mind is so full of to-do lists and you want to just be present for a hour(ish) of your day … and that is okay.
Maybe you practice yoga to connect deeper with the God(s) you love and adore and Bhakti is where your heart is at … and that is okay.
And maybe you practice because you love how yoga makes your body, mind and spirit feel … and that is okay.
Now, this is yoga.
But just know that yoga can be in everything and everywhere you go and that your practice isn’t just on the mat but can penetrate into all areas of your life … with an open heart and a ready soul.
Peace & Love,
Jill is a health enthusiast passionate about holistic living through being conscious of the mind, body and spirit connection. She is a free-spirited veggie-loving yoga teacher that loves any kind of adventure that comes her way, whether that is rock climbing, paddle boarding, waterfall rappelling, cliff jumping or learning a new inversion. She finds balance and inspiration in her happy place of being in nature and swimming in the ocean. She ensures that everything she does is in alignment with her truth – to have a grateful and vulnerable heart in order to live in a positive and light filled way.