Pondering the threads that have been with me throughout my life I thought, strong and soft. But what these words mean is different for everyone and as one grows and expands they may take on different meanings all together.
When I was young I was very shy. I would hide behind my fathers legs as he stood to talk with a neighbor or friend. My father gave me a sense of safety and protection. As I grew older I lost that connection with him and felt fearful out in the world alone. I hid behind the safety of certain friends, men, behind the illusion of drugs and pretended to have a strong sense of myself. But I knew that could only last so long with each person I met. I knew eventually the truth, that I was weak and afraid, would come through and they would leave. I decided to not let anyone get too close and this would give the appearance that I didn’t care and didn’t need anyone. But deep down I knew that wasn’t true.
In college I loved studying the subjects that came easily to me. Even math and science became some of my favorite classes. But like with everything else I changed directions many times. As if failure or losing could be avoided that way. I eventually chose art as my degree and became a graphic designer for a minute. I also realized that if I would have been supported enough to nurture what was inside trying to come out I could have saved a lot of time and money. But that is not how the story went. I loved painting and photography but was always told that it would be difficult to make a good living doing those things and I believed it. So I became a graphic designer to appease others. And after just 5 months of sitting behind a desk at a computer I was done. My back hurt and I had no energy to go on. My creativity felt stunted.
When I found Yoga in college it turned my entire life around. I started to feel more empowered to trust my insticts and to listen to my heart. So I did. I quit my, “Dead End Job”, as Lama Marut used to call it, and signed up for Yoga Teacher Training at the studio where I practiced. I was already in love with the teacher and felt like I wanted to have what she had, just like I had felt with my very first teacher in college. They both had a sense of lightness about them. It always looked like they floated across the room when they walked. I had always walked around wounded and in victim mode, afraid to be myself out of fear of rejection.
With each class I became stronger physically and with each meditation I could feel layers of old memories healing. In the training we were asked to write quite a bit, which I loved, and to look at ourselves from someone elses perspective. My mind opened and I started to see myself and others with more clarity.
So, these days being strong and soft feels good. I am no longer afraid to be myself, to speak my truth or even to be rejected. It’s all ok. To be strong means being willing to get hurt, to make a mistake and to say no. Being soft means I am not afraid to be vulnerable because I know that that is where we truly can connect with ourselves and each other.
Yin Yoga takes us on a journey of self discovery. We take the time each time we practice to observe ourselves without judgement. To see our thoughts not as who we are but as what we have been told. And to begin the unlearning process of letting go of what is not working in our lives. To say no to old thoughts, old relationships that no longer support our soulful journey and to stand up and live the life that we choose, not one we feel obligated to live.