Yoga means something different to every student. Ask 10 yogis what drew them to their mat, and you'll get 10 answers (many are loooong, mine included, so ask at your own risk). For some, yoga's a way to push their body to its limits. Others see it as an alternative to a sport or activity they're unable to continue due to injury or age. My yoga practice is about learning and expression -- which, to me, is a spiritual experience.
I learned a lot so far during my life on my mat. The last two months have been especially fortuitous, thanks to Ally. Ever since I arrived at White Orchid to begin my Ashtanga journey, the spark inside me lit up. A student is only as good as his teacher. Ally taught me a lot so far. She speaks in universal truths. Some of the information I'm about to relay to you is directly from her mouth. Some is a reflection of her knowledge in my application... But just because I'm a good student doesn't mean she's not an amazing teacher.
Three Things My Yogi Taught Me About Yoga
• Yoga Never Lies
Your body says what your mouth can't. It's taken me two months to get into Lotus and Child's Pose, and I'm still not doing them exactly right yet. If you somehow read this far without knowing what Child's Pose is, it's the position you go into when everything else is going wrong. The day Ally adjusted me when I entered my position of failure, I realized how disconnected I'd become. It's the moment I truly felt the difference between living in my head and living in my body.
• You Can't Cheat at Yoga
As an expert at finding loopholes, I found only one loophole in yoga. Breathe. That's it. Breathe. As long as you're breathing, you accomplished something. You can never fail as long as you keep breathing. When you fail at that, it doesn't matter anymore anyway. There's no losing in yoga. It's all about you
• Yoga Is Supposed to Be Fun
I honestly forgot how to have fun for a long time. I can't talk about most of what I do during the day, and the facts I've learned in life are grim. My sense of humor and openness are my favorite parts about myself, but I lost a lot of that when I declared war on the banks. I've seen a lot of shit in my day. I'm a bit rough around the edges. On days I was barely awake or getting frustrated, Ally would make me smile or laugh. When I refused, she'd smile or laugh, depending on how snippy I'd get.
Three Things My Yogi Taught Me About Life
• We're All the Same
We all have problems. We all have challenges. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We're all just people. All of us.
• Compassion Is Easier
Talking about some aspects of my life is difficult. My relationship with my parents is strenuous. Many people have done me wrong, and I'm a warrior. There's a fine line I must walk to fight a war for justice while remaining true to the eight limbs of yoga. Sometimes difficult decisions must be made. In the end, however, it's compassion and love that separates heroes from villains.
• Knowledge Is Power
Our capitalist society would have you believe that money is power. I have no money, yet the financial and insurance industries fear me. That's because I have knowledge, and I know how to apply it to my reality. For a long time I devalued my knowledge by giving it away. Thanks to Ally, I understand I can charge for that knowledge. Yoga is a business.
Selecting a yoga teacher is important. I chose Ally because I knew she was capable of filling in a lot of blanks for me. I do the same for her. We have a similar outlook on life. We share our expertise in our respective fields and have an interest in what the other brings to the table. It's the exact relationship I need to get through my yoga practice.
What do you look for in a yoga teacher?
On March 9, 2013, I'll be at White Orchid's Yoga Stops Traffick event in Clearwater contributing the important step of raising awareness to human trafficking by raising funds for Odanadi and our Pinellas County Human Trafficking Task Force. Along with other yoga students, I'm dedicating 108 sun salutations to the collective consciousness. If you'd like to contribute to the energy or maybe just want to bring a donation to watch bendy broads in tight yoga pants, you're free to join us wherever you are in the world to help contribute to another person's equal freedom. Namaste.
Brian Penny is a former business analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower who spent the last 2 years helping regulators and attorneys uncover the largest bank and insurance fraud in history. He documents his experiences van dwelling, working with Anonymous, and fighting the banks on his blog. He's currently in the Tampa Bay area attending school, assisting homeowners and attorneys, and practicing yoga with the guidance of Ally Ford.
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