Yoga-Schooled: Questions for Knowing Ourselves and Dancing Our Happy Dance

03/26/2015 03:25 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017


Tonight, I got schooled.

It was just a regular night in teacher training, delving into the depths of the niyamas, the ethical codes of yoga. Just a little yogic self-inquiry into the practice of svadhyaya (self-study). So, I asked my yoga teacher training class to inquire into themselves.

"What are you terrified of but secretly long to do? What do you do no matter what? What makes you happy? What makes you dance your happy dance?"

Sometimes, we cannot predict, change or stop our own awakening.
How, right now, can we do what we love? We can ask ourselves often, for it often changes.

When I was a kid I always wanted to be a writer. I devoured books. Would walk up to the librarian with a stack of books so tall I couldn't see her. I would read them all and come back the next week for more. I knew more than I knew anything that the writer's life was for me.

I grew past the age where people asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I forgot that lucid dream. It was lost in the lure of prestige and the push of practicality. I began a successful career as an educator in Los Angeles Unified Schools. I teach other people how to write as an English teacher.

I never believed in the adage "those who can't do, teach." Though I taught often and only wrote once in a blue moon.

Yet there comes a time. For everyone's flight no matter how terrifying or mundane.
My 2-year-old understands flight. He won't play basketball without putting on fairy wings.

He's falling in love with Pharell. He does his own "happy dance" all over the kitchen table gazing into his own eyes in the mirror -- gleeful at breaking the rules in rhythm with musical poetry.


That's his current moment of flight. Mine just came, tonight. I felt it knock me to my knees, as true self-inquiry can be known to do.

I'm being pushed out of this comfy teaching cocoon because I am finally writing. I'm writing myself a new story that I am committed to no matter what. After a full day of work from 8 to 4, coming home to domestic work, feeding and bathing my child, then teaching yoga for three more hours, I'm still up, at almost midnight, typing words on this bright screen.

I feel commitment building in the rhythmic tap of fingers on the keyboard. I won't go to bed until the words meant to find their way free are living on pages outside my mind.

It's terrifying that it's my time to write. To create. I don't know what's next or how it's going to happen. But I know it's my truth and my journey.


This practice of union we call yoga can seem selfish sometimes. Yet, we delve so deeply into ourselves that we come out the other side seeing everything as our reflection.

Self-inquiry may be the most radical thing we can do for the world. When we think we are done, we can inquire some more. The universe within and without is vast and infinite in its unfolding.

So what do I do no matter what? I practice yoga, I meditate, I walk in nature and I write. That's why you are reading this.


- What are you terrified of but secretly long to do?
- What would you do no matter what?
- What makes you dance your happy dance all over the table?
- How, right now, can you fly & do more of what you love?

By Susanna Barkataki, writer, mama, MEd., Certified Ayurvedic Wellness Practitioner, and Yoga Teacher