It’s 3am – and the banging has been going on for about 10 minutes now. My heart is racing – and I feel an overwhelming sense of sadness and dread. Is this the 5th night in a row or is it the 6th? I guess it doesn’t matter. She’s kicking the wall – and if I don’t go in there – it will go on until dawn.
I start to get out of bed. I’m exhausted- I’m angry – and I feel hopeless. My 8 year old little girl with severe autism is screaming uncontrollably, and I don’t know what’s wrong.
I don’t know why she’s doing this every night, and I feel like the worst person on earth, because I don’t know how to help her. I honestly can’t seem to bring myself into the present moment.
It’s 4am, and she’s finally back asleep. I toss and turn as I beat myself up for being a yoga teacher and having the knowledge of breath, present moment, relaxation tools and philosophy that has healed me in the past – but not being able to apply a damn thing in those dark hours before the dawn.
It’s 8am – she’s off to school and he’s off to work. I sit on the couch with my coffee, and I proceed to drink 3 cups before I force myself to take a shower and into some yoga clothes. I feel shell shocked – actually – I feel all the feelings at once. I’m overwhelmed.
It’s 9am – I pull into the parking lot, and there’s already a student waiting at the front door. I swig more coffee as I jump out of the car and think to myself “What the hell do I have to teach anyone today?”.
I just start putting one foot in front of the other as I unlock the studio door and set my things down.
“I hope you don’t mind I’m so early – my car is in the shop and I had someone drop me off” – says my first student of the day.
My heart begins to soften as I ask her how she’s doing – how her shoulder is doing – and if she has any special requests.
One by one the students begin to trickle in – and my heart lightens as I see their faces. I start to recall Yoga Sutra 1.1 – “Now, after having done prior preparation through life and other practices, the study and practice of yoga begins.”
This opening statement to the sutras is deceitfully simple. Patanjali (the Guru of the Yoga Sutras) is acknowledging that everything we have done in life and other practices has been in preparation for this moment NOW where “The study and practice of yoga begins.”
As I sit in front of my students – that line from the sutras means everything. It means that the divine light of the universe sees our decision to come, sit and learn yoga. Our souls have made connection with that divine light, and everything we have experienced in life up until that point – positive or negative – has been in preparation for this moment now. The yoga begins now.
Class begins. We sit – we breathe – we move, and we connect collectively. As my students begin to rise from savasana – I gently remind them that as we step off our mats – the real work of the yoga begins. I receive the hugs, thank you’s – and “that was just what I needed” from my students and I find myself alone again with my thoughts.
My yoga practice looks nothing what I thought it would after nearly 8 years of dedicated practice and into my 4th year as a teacher. My practice is all around me – and asks me to stay present yet go deeper.
There are many poses that my body isn’t able to do – but I can open my heart and embrace my world regardless of my challenges. That is my yoga.
I can go home to my darling 8 year old little girl with autism, and I can love her with all my heart.
I can embrace pain and joy in the same breath – and I can find the grace to share my joy with others.
I can go to sleep knowing that I may be woken up by the sound of kicking and screaming – but still find space to dream nonetheless.
And now the yoga begins. It is with me – through me – and all around me.
In this moment right now – I am spacious – blissful and illuminated from the darkness within and without.