My life right now is a fluid mix of story & yoga.
I’m studying creative writing at Victoria University and I’m finishing off my Prana Flow Yoga Teacher Certification (posted off all the book work in the mail on Monday! Woo hoo… now just have the exam to sit.)
This combination of story and yoga has dovetailed into a deeper understanding of how we write the scripts for our lives, how we cast ourselves and the people around us as characters, and how we react to these scripts and characters everytime we open our mouths.
Our storytelling also extends to our yoga mats.
When I teach, I would hear stories all the time from my students.
“Oh I can’t do that because I have this particular injury.”
“I’ll never be able to do that because I’m too this.”
“I hate that pose.”
“I love that pose.”
Story after story, and all of them are true, but only because we believe in them. And only because we keep telling ourselves the story, over and over again.
We have the power to change our stories.
Oh we can’t change what’s already happened in our story. We may very well have injured ourselves in a particular way which means our movement is limited like this right now… but we have the power to write a new ending to our stories anyway we choose.
Case in point.
It’s early 2000. I think. Time is hazy back in my twenties.
I’m in Tommy Africa’s in Whistler, Canada, a nightclub I go-go danced at for five years.
I’ve had a few drinks and am enjoying the early night emptiness before the crowds arrive. A friend of mine, and also the receptionist at the local medical clinic rocks up. She proceeds to tell tipsy-me all about the results of the back x-rays I’ve just had done – X-rays to determine why I had chronic sciatic pain, why my right foot was half-numb, why I was walking with a limp and what could be done about it all.
Her expert receptionist diagnosis went something like this:
You’ve got Degenerative Disc Disease.
You’ll need more back operations.
You’ll always have limited mobility.
You’ve got one f**cked up back.
Ok. I’m paraphrasing. This is just a memory of an event, the story I’ve told myself, but it’s a story that’s served me well.
Suffice to say, that conversation killed my buzz and I hightailed it out of the club and onto the bus all the way back to my house in Emerald, which was a half-finished mansion nicknamed The Castle. The living areas still had no floors and no windows, and the bedrooms were devoid of any soft furnishings like carpet or curtains. Heating was non-existent.
I huddled in bed in this freezing concrete room and thought to myself:
Screw that. That’s not the story of my life. I’m going to heal my back, no matter what it takes.
And that was the beginning of my mission.
Fast forward 11 years.
I no longer have chronic back pain. I don’t have sciatic pain. My right foot is no longer numb. I don’t walk with a limp. My range of motion has improved out-of-sight. I practice yoga daily. I teach yoga.
I’m living the story I decided to write for myself.
That’s not to say there haven’t been slip-ups along the way. (Or that it hasn’t been a helluva a lot of work, it has, and I’ve dug deep every step of the way.)
Back when I used to practice Bikram Yoga, I hated Dancer’s Pose. Mostly because every single time I got to that posture in the class… I would start to cry, and I would cry for the rest of the class. This went on for years.
Until one day, as we were approaching Dancer’s Pose I heard myself tell the same story I’d always told about this posture:
I hate this pose.
And I wondered, what would happen if I told myself a different story?
So I changed my mind.
I told myself.
I love this pose.
And you know what?
From that moment onward, my relationship to Dancer’s Pose began to change.
Approaching it with openness caused my body to start to open into it. Eventually, I even stopped crying my way through the rest of the class post-Dancer’s pose.
It was a powerful lesson about how the story I tell about the postures I do creates my experience of said postures.
I’m tight, Always have been. Always… WAIT A MINUTE.
That’s a story I’m ready to change. Right here. Right now.
Once upon a time, I was tight. Now I’m getting softer and more fluid by the month. Soon I’m going to be just like water yo! By the time I hit my 50s, I will be pliable and giving in the best possible way.
See what story can do?
It creates your entire experience of life and often we’re letting our stories write themselves off into the future willy nilly with no direction.
That’s because it takes awareness and practice to first notice the stories we are telling ourselves, and then begin to write new stories.
I can help though.
It’s a process I’ve been through, over and over in my own practice, and now I’m ready to help other people apply the principles I’ve learned along the way to their practice.
And I’m going to be doing this in two workshops in the South Island in November.
Called The Power of Presence – Unravel the stories that shape your yoga practice, this workshop will give you the tools to write your own stories about your yoga practice and your body. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginning yoga student, or a serious practitioner, this workshop is for you.
The workshops will be experiential and exploratory, which means we’ll practice and we’ll share our experiences with each other as we apply different tools to seek out our stories and rewrite them.
We’ll examine the ideas, stories and beliefs each of us has about yoga in general, about our bodies, and about our practices. We’ll explore the ideas we have as beginners, and the ideas we have as experienced practitioners.
Through the power of attention, and intention, we’ll decide which of these ideas, stories and beliefs empower us and our practice, and which ideas, stories and beliefs no longer serve us. And we’ll write some new powerful stories which do serve us.
You can expect to share, breathe, practice, laugh, learn, wonder and delight.
I’m excited about getting the opportunity to share this work with other people.
I’ve found it so insightful and powerful in my own practice and I want to see if it can work for other people. Plus I’m keen to see what other people can bring to the process – I always learn from the people I teach!
If you’re keen to attend either workshop, here’s all the details.
Te Anau: The Power of Presence: Unravel the stories that shape your yoga practice
Where: Community Room, Fiordland Medical Centre
When: 6pm – 9pm, Friday November 11th, 2011
How Much: $50 non-members, $40 Te Anau Yoga Members
Book: Email Kerri-Anne Edge (Numbers limited to 18)
Invercargill: The Power of Presence: Unravel the stories that shape your yoga practice
Where: 181a Dee Street, Invercargill (Above Toy World)
When: 1pm – 5pm, Saturday November 12th, 2011
How Much: $50
Book: Email Linda Ryder (Numbers limited to 20)
Any other questions – send me an email.