Pre-Training: How Baptiste Power Yoga Helped Me Heal

Joy in teaching - at YogaSoul Princeton

Joy in teaching – at YogaSoul Princeton

*This week I join a badass group of 120 Spiritual Warriors on the Baptiste Power Yoga path in Sedona, Arizona to work, seek, play, and grow in our teaching and in our lives. Here are my reflections:

“In order to heal, you need to feel.” This simple but powerful principle of Baptiste Power Yoga kept me moving through an emotional home practice the morning before heading to Baptiste Level Two teacher training in Arizona. I faced fear (handstand – face away from the wall today Shannon), anxiety (you made your decision to quit teaching at one particular studio that wasn’t a fit – now own it), sadness (two more months before you get to kiss your sweet nieces on the other side of the country). But each breath, twist, stretch, and stumble, I went inward. Instead of numbing out. And for me, that’s huge.

I didn’t come to this powerful practice until a few years ago, opting instead to literally run away (ten-mile runs were my antidote) from all that I needed to feel in order to heal. The tougher the life circumstance, the more miles I logged. Ten or 15 miles pounding the wet concrete streets along the waterfront in Seattle. Fifty mile rides on my road bike climbing hills in and around Lake Washington, daydreaming of what it would be like to feel confident, joyful, and free to choose for myself. Flip-turning my way through 1500 meters as an escape from a career path that brought little joy. The only feelings I embraced prior to discovering Baptiste yoga were achy thighs and gasping lungs.

Yoga up until a few years ago was secondary – a way to soothe the physical toll I took from pavement pounding and endless pedal revolutions. But at a low point in life when I could no longer look away from what needed to change – career, relationship, self-care – I stepped into a Baptiste Power Yoga class that was like no other form of yoga I’d ever experienced. Gentle hip circles, chanting and restorative postures this was not.

Sweat poured onto my towel in the 90 degree room as the teacher at BeLuminous Yoga in Seattle smiled and encouraged us to hold Warrior a little longer, twist a little deeper, get honest with ourselves and quit running away from the inevitable emotions that come with a powerful practice. Five years later, as I head into Baptiste Level Two training, I’m ready to share the gift that was given to me during that first practice: a taste of what’s possible when we let our guards down, sit with our emotions, and discover the miracles awaiting on our mats.

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