What has yoga done for you?


I remember a time about 20 years ago when I was a wide eyed and curious student of yoga, a newbie, and I was attending one of my very first yoga teacher trainings. I can remember this moment like it was yesterday. There were over 100 of us in that room and we were gathered around in a circle seated on the floor while our teacher stood in the front leading a conversation. We talked about life and yoga and then he opened the floor to questions from us, the students. A woman in the back raised her hand and asked her question. She asked, “Why did you and your ex wife get divorced?” I was secretly shocked that she asked such a personal question and equally hungry for the answer. I listened with all of me.

I was expecting him to answer the question in a lot of different ways, all except the one way he did answer. He said, “We didn’t have to.” He continued, “We didn’t have to, but we didn’t know how to move through the challenges we were facing together at that time and so we made that decision. Looking back, we didn’t have to.”

He taught me a lot that day inside that answer, some things I’m just understanding now. 

I remember this story now because I recently I got asked a question too. The question was, “What has yoga done for you?” Now, that’s a big question. Yoga has been a part of my life for half of my life and in 20 years it’s done a lot for me in both ways that I know and some ways I probably don’t yet. I love questions like this though because the answer isn’t easy. It makes you dig and feel for it. I dug in and came out with the one answer that seemed truer than any other answer for me in that moment. The answer came to me and started thumping in my belly like a student waving her hand wildly to the teacher, needing to speak and desperate to be heard.

My answer reminds me of my teacher’s.

You see, when I looked inside with honesty at my life from then until now, I pay attention to the things that truly matter and the things that don’t. I thought about the things that I have lost, and the things that I both said and did in my relationships. I looked at the relationships that have come and gone. I dove into the memories of my life. I looked at the things that caused me the most pain and they all came down to one thing. The things that were the most painful for me were the memories where I sold my soul for comfort and, in turn, acted like a coward. I folded under pressure. I ran away when things  got hard. I buckled in the challenging moments and I lacked the courage necessary to do the things I needed to do to take care of myself.

So what has yoga done for me? Yoga has given me the eyes to see this and it’s also given me a practice where I have an opportunity to transform my old ways and choose courage. In any moment. In every moment. In every yoga pose.

Here is what I have learned… 

  1. The best choice in any moment will always be the one that allows you to be courageous, which means it won’t come in a package that is safe and familiar.

  2. Every act of courage kills the coward inside.

  3. Bravery is a habit.