Space, The Yogic Frontier... By Elizabeth Dunne

A few days before Christmas, my fellow teachers and I lingered around our mats after morning practice to check in with one another. One of us had a cold virus, another craved for a social experience outside of a yoga studio, and the rest had a far -off distant stare resembling the exact definition of burnout. The consensus was that we were about to approach New Year’s Eve huffing to the finish line, and we could all use some space. There is a thing as teaching too much yoga, especially around the holidays when picking up extra classes is as easy as picking up a cookie.

I just returned from leading a 10-day yoga vacation in St. Lucia. I have experienced clarity and inspiration to return to daily “reality” with a renewed sense of vision. I feel refreshed and more connected to the practice and myself than ever.

Retreat. I have learned that teaching yoga is a big responsibility, and it’s not a job to be taken lightly.  Students count on you to lead them through a soulful experience that connects them to their higher self.  For me, many elements go into teaching a class: prayer, faith, dedication, reflection and intuition, to name a few. I have to be ON when I teach,. I have to get good rest, eat properly, meditate, and set intentions with prayer to fully prepare myself for the energetic exchange.

The potential for transformation and breakthroughs is on the forefront at a yoga studio; a lot goes down in those four walls! Needless to say when teaching a class of 30 people the energy exchange is undeniable. For me, I have experienced no greater bliss than sharing the light of yoga to a full class. Usually I am graciously floating from the exchange…. But at times I must respect my true nature’s craving for silence and retreat.  To connect to the divine, silence and space are necessary. Taking silence from teaching serves as a refreshment for the soul and the student within.

Unplug. We live in a fast-paced world. We can get in contact with friends or co-workers instantaneously with texting, high speed Internet and smart phone apps. Honestly, all of this can be exhausting and a HUGE energy sucker. You know you are on the brink of burnout when you look at your cell thrilled that you don’t have missed calls, messages or urgent emails. Phew, The coast is clear!

I am not needed and can go on designing the rest of my moment.  The great thing about going away or declaring a staycation is that you can retreat from the use of technology. Take a break from constant contact and communication. Empty the mind, slow down and connect to the divine… also lend your thumbs a rest!!

Break the Routine. In daily life we have classes, appointments, side-jobs and obligations that over time become familiar and routine.  When we are familiar with something, it is easy to lose the energy, edge and excitement of it.  Over time the façade of familiarity can be like looking through wax paper; we ultimately forget the mystery.

I have found that breaking the routine can be a super food for my creativity and passion. When we step outside the box of normal life to connect with strangers and explore new cultures, we have a broader sense of the world and our place in it.  We come home to rediscover our life with childlike wonder and amazement.

Connect with Nature. Not everyone practices yoga, but the practice of connection is universal. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we all long for the same experience. The one that drives us home to realize we are one with the universe. The natural landscape generously lends us this peace of mind and has the ability to nourish and heal us.

When you get the chance to step out of an urban environment on a clear night and stare out into the cosmos, a strange and deep sense of belonging swells in the heart.  When viewing the vast horizon over the mountains, oceans or plains, all of the sudden life’s big problems suddenly appear smaller and more manageable.

I had a conversation with a young native taxi driver in St. Lucia who had never before left the island. In conversation over my affinity for the landscape, he told me sometimes he would take a walk in the forest, pick some mangoes, listen to the birds, and before he knew it he was asleep. Agreeing with me, he said, “It’s really easy to be at one with the universe here.” When you surround yourself with lush live beauty and space it’ll no doubt reflect in the mind and heart.

Liz is a full-time human being from planet earth. She spends her days sharing the light of yoga on Long Island, New York. Her life is an exploration of the art of being fully present and alive. Off the mat, Liz enjoys engaging in conversation with her friends at the local soup shop, and sitting on the beach humbled by the vastness of the horizon. She digs reggae vibes, blue-grass music, and the lyrical stylings of Regina Spektor.