As I walked up the stairs, I felt myself begin to relax. My mind slowed down, and my breath began to steady. Mantras, painted on the stairs, welcomed me as I made my way into the space. I had finally worked up the courage to bring my home yoga practice into a studio, and I was scared. I’d never been flexible, was notoriously clumsy, and headstands were so far from my reality that I usually felt out of place in studios. All I knew was that I needed to deepen my practice. I was so disconnected from my body that I had daily back pain, and was suffering from severe sciatica. Practicing at home helped, but I needed more, and I wanted to learn. As I walked through the studio door, my fear lifted. Sunlight spilled into the room, and incense lingered in the air. I felt like I had come home.
My first class was shaky. I wanted to cry as we moved through the sun salutation sequences, and struggled to find the motivation for each new round. I wobbled in and out of tree pose, and got dizzy in downward dog. I wasn’t use to such a structured practice, but as much as I was struggling, I felt safe. The teacher gently corrected my posture when I needed it, and offered support and words of encouragement throughout the class. I knew that I could learn here; that I would be able to release my emotional pain, and eventually ease my physical pain. During that first savasana, I saw a tree. It was small and bare. It’s tangled roots were reaching for water; it’s limbs were reaching for light. I didn’t know why it appeared to me, but I knew that it needed nourishment and love. It needed to be nurtured.
As I returned each week, I felt my body begin to unfold. The knots that had twisted and woven themselves throughout my body loosened. With my breath as my guide, my practice flourished and as my practice deepened, so did my breath. It never mattered that I couldn’t stand on my head--what mattered was that I showed up. I was making time for myself, and creating space for myself to exist; to breathe.
Physical and emotional pains that I had ignored or buried began to release; I was healing. One Saturday afternoon, I decided to stay for a Yoga Nidra class. It had been described to me as a yoga nap, which sounded like exactly what I needed in that moment. I fell asleep during the meditation, but when I woke, I felt that something within me had shifted. It was as though a light was shining from the center of my chest, and all I could do was trust it. I allowed it to guide me deeper into my yoga practice.
During another Nidra class, several months later, I had a vision. This time, I saw myself as a tree. I was strong and resilient, but able to bend and dance with the wind. My roots reached deep into the Earth; my arms bathed and bloomed in the sunlight. I woke, empowered. Whole. I knew in that moment how deeply my practice had impacted me--my entire inner life had transformed. My light was shining brighter than ever.
It’s been one year and three months, and every week, I walk up the steps leading to the studio. With each step, I recite the mantra painted on the stairs. With each step, I feel the burden and weight of life outside the studio melt away. I feel the light shining from with me; Love brings it to life.
Ariela is one of our newest teachers here at Love Integration Yoga. She graduated from the Yoga Bhakti Dharma School Teacher Training Course in the Fall of 2018. You can enjoy her class Sunday March 17th at 5:00 pm. This class is a donation based hatha yoga practice for all levels of practitioners. Beginners are welcome!
Please make sure to follow Ariela @arielarossberg on instagram and facebook, and check out her latest creation, A MUSING, a podcast for magic seekers featuring conversations on creativity.