Written by Kelly Hennigan
Yoga. What does it mean to me? We get asked that question a lot in class and it’s interesting to answer it each time it’s asked (to yourself, of course). Because, to be honest, most days it means something a little different.
I’ve written on my own blog about what yoga has meant to me, both personally as a student and professionally as a photographer. Its effects are unpredictable, but vast and impactful. And if I’m going to stick with being honest, the practice of yoga can sometimes lead to some personal confusion. I guess it’s what all those teachers mean when they say you’re “doing the work.”
Regardless of your reasons, you come to yoga for something. You’re searching. Be it for physical change, a spiritual lift or a mental check. You come for something. And like most of us, you get in there, you get stretched out and you sweat. And eventually you start to listen. And listening is good. Because when we’re looking for something, we often want someone to tell us what it is, how to get it and how to behave in order to get it. Enter the yoga teacher. The studio owner. The teacher trainee. Somebody to tell me what I need and how to get it. “I’ll listen to them. They must know. They’re a yoga teacher.”
So you listen. Intently. And here’s where things can get confusing. If you’re like me, you practice with lots of different teachers and you like to visit other studios. Keeps it interesting. Expands your horizons (as they say). And what you’ll find is teachers saying a lot of similar things. But you’ll also find different things. And each one can have you nodding in agreement. Perhaps one contradicts another in the physical manifestation of yoga or, maybe even in the spiritual. So the seeker of wisdom in you cannot figure out which end is up. So you’re listening turns to questioning. Who’s the wiser teacher? Who seems to know better? Who should I follow?
Confusion. Having been through some of this, I’ve come to realize that the whole point is to find your journey, your truths and the screaming or the quiet that is YOU. You cannot look to someone else to take you there. But that’s one of the other great gifts of yoga. It has taught me that I am both the seeker and the finder. It cannot come from anywhere or anyone else. The confidence and strength I’ve gained over these last 5 years of practice have come from inside me. I’m just grateful there are so many amazing guides along the way. To help me look closer at me and not just at them. So a big thanks to all of you teachers, owners and students for pointing me back to me. Because then I get to share it back with you.