At Home In My YogaCarly Stong May 28, 2015
As a yoga teacher and active member of my local and global yogic communities, I am always seeking to deepen my knowledge. I often look in yoga-based magazines, books, and online resources to expand or grow my personal practice and, by extension, what I offer as a teacher. While this continual search has lead me to some of the most profound experiences of my life, it has also lead me to discover some misunderstandings about yoga as a trend – a branded yoga, a sexualized yoga, a fashionable yoga, and a yoga for “losing those stubborn 10 pounds. FAST!” It has also lead me to question where I fit in the yogic world because I do not see many bigger bodied yogis in the images representing yoga.
This is not the yoga that I know. This is not the yoga that I crawl to on my knees for salvation in my darkest hour, or the yoga that fills me with light and freedom. My yoga can’t be ‘selfied’. It is not owned by a corporation. It is not betterthan, or worse than.
The yoga I know is me, at home in my body, in this moment. My yoga is inclusive, welcoming, and liberating. She enables me to live fully and love deeply; to be as grounded in the ebb as I am in the flow.
Once, I lost touch with my yoga. I neglected our relationship and allowed myself to be caught up in the rush of my day-to-day life. You see, my practice does not always mirror back to me the lovely and blissful. It can reflect back to me what is tortuous, unrelenting, ugly and uncomfortable within me, such as the need to face my fears of change. It seemed easier to keep busy rather than be accountable to the steady beat of my own heart, guiding me to make these ‘scary’ changes that would keep me on my truest path. I missed my yoga at first, but it gradually got easier to get swallowed up by the hypnotic siren virus that is busyness.
Then, I took myself deep into nature. Cutting off from technology and creature comforts, I had nothing to busy myself with. There, in pre-dawn blackness that was so deep it swallowed and filled me all at once, I was silent enough to hear her softly calling to me. I dove into a darkness so thick that I could not see my own hand held at the tip of my nose…
This morning I awake before the sun in the deep woods.
The darkness is my fresh canvas: free of judgement or expectation.
Limitless and inviting.
I stand and bare myself to the shadows.
Unclothed in my fullness.
Shieldless, I step onto my yoga mat to practice robed only in Father Moon’s dark veil.
I rise and fall in rhythm with my breath.
No eyes cast their gaze upon me, but my vision has never been clearer.
Free of the chains of cloth, I am boundless.
A bird on a breeze.
My eyes see only black.
They have no impact upon my perception.
There is only touch, sound and a feeling.
Without eyes, I see myself.
As the sun appears, I realize that I am no longer ‘in nature’.
I am nature.
The depth of this truth beams from within me a light brighter than the morning’s dawn.
Alone and dressed in nothing but the night, I found my true yoga again. Alone, I could not hear any voice telling me that my body isn’t right, doesn’t fit or isn’t beautiful. I could not see with my physical eyes; I could only feel with the eyes of my heart. I saw my truest self without vision. I knew her. I was her.
I am overwhelmed with love and gratitude for my body because this body brings my yoga to me. My body is a full-fledged bootylicious miracle! This is the body that my parents, two people I love so much, created just for me. These chubby legs ran after my brothers, thighs rubbing against each other with every stride. These sausage fingers helped deliver a baby, for crying out loud! This is the abundant body that my fiancee fell in love with; the round face that my community resonates with; the flabby arms that will embrace my children. Each time I come to my mat and move this body, I am reminded of just how grateful I am to have this body.
I believe everyone’s yoga is waiting for them, even those who will never step foot on a yoga mat in their entire lives. Your yoga is in the home of you. Your life is your yoga.
How to come home to your yoga…
Close your eyes and enter the silence of your heart. Feeling the eyes of your heart opening, explore the questions:
• I wonder what it would be like to be at home in my body?
• What does ‘being at home in your body’ feel like, sound like, smell like, taste like, look like?
• What can I release in my daily life to create more space for being at home in my body?
• What is a place I can visit, or an activity I can do that helps me be at home in my body, even just for five minutes a day?
Carly Stong is a compassionate teacher and passionate yoga studio director in Kingston, Ontario. She believes that her life’s work is teaching yoga for bigger bodied women, where she inspires, encourages, and supports her sisters: “These classes are part of a movement where women can lovingly come back into reclaiming their bodies in this moment”. On June 12 to 15, she will be offering a retreat for this community in partnership with NorthernEdgeAlgonquin.com, in Replenish & Rise Up: A Yoga Retreat for Bigger Bodied Women. For more information, see ad on page 60 in Vitality magazine's June 2015 issue, or call: 1-888-383-8320 toll-free.