A sampling of messages from people who’ve decided to stop following my social media over the past few weeks:
Just lost my following.
I’m done here.
Time to quit following!
I get it: this highly charged political environment affects us all. It seems impossible to enter a conversation without wandering into a discussion about the election. Politics are heavy, it’s draining, and people are pitting themselves against each other when in reality we all just want to be heard and understood.
I want to hear and understand. I’ve spent the past two weeks opening my mind to all opinions in the hopes of striking a chord of balance where we can grow together instead of blindly tearing each other apart. When I see or feel something powerful that offers tools for positive change, I offer it on my social media. These offerings, without surprise, stir the pot. Sometimes I lose followers, but before leaving, those followers often post variations of the above messages.
Exactly what are they trying to say? And what is the goal? Do they want me to feel like I’m wrong — to apologize? My best guess is that they just want to be heard — same as me, same as everyone — and un-following without announcing the decision feels unsatisfactory. Unfortunately, a mic drop without conversation changes little. All it does is make the page an echo chamber of like-minded people, which I actually don’t want, because that’s the kind of space too many of us have been living in the past few years.
I’m aware that pretty, neutral posts offend no one. They also change nothing. (As much as a post, as a page, can change anything, that is.) So I’m not worried about popularity through pretty, neutral posts. I am focused on sharpening my mind, opening my heart, and the amazing privilege I’ve been given in having a platform to help in some small way. I am choosing to use my platform to share ideas on positive change, education, unity, and understanding – anything that (I feel) makes our world a little better.
Of course, as I post about ideas that seem to exist far away from the yoga mat, another message keeps popping up:
Just teach yoga.
You are welcome to your political views, but we come here for yoga inspiration, not that.
If you want to follow a yoga teacher who only teaches ‘yoga’, well, I suggest reassessing the actual definition of yoga. To yoke. It’s the unifier; an essence and lineage of spiritual awakening. It’s not a perfect asana picture with text written by an ambivalent human whose purpose is solely to please.
Every yoga teacher wears a multitude of hats. A teacher —or any human for that matter— should never be defined or limited to one title. We are all so wildly complex, with beautiful brains and curiosities that are stimulated to different levels and capacities in different chapters of our lives.
What do I personally do for a living? I am a yoga teacher. I am a writer. I am a cook. I am a speaker. I am a student. I am a philanthropist. I am just getting started and will constantly redefine myself. And yes: I am political. Why? Because I give all the f*cks about this world and the living beings in it.
I’m writing this as a reminder to everyone, myself included, that we must stay true. And to those of you still with me, please be brave and stay true to yourselves and what you believe in — even if we disagree. Especially if we disagree. I believe in our likenesses and our differences.
I believe we can beautifully disagree.
Please, be a powerful voice of unity. Add your personal rhythm to the vibration by speaking up when you see or feel injustice, and give a voice to those who are scared or stifled. You will always find me doing exactly what I believe to be just and true, inspired by all the amazing humans who are doing the same.
photo: Stark Photography
I’ve never been much of a gym rat. In fact, I often associate running on a treadmill with dark forms of punishment. Fast forward to my current dark age and that’s where you’ll find me — in a gym, on a treadmill, doing my best to find a sliver of joy as the balls of my feet methodically go round-and-round. A tired gerbil in a wheel just trying to catch that freakin’ carrot.
Am I being hyperbolic? Perhaps. I admit to enjoying the dopamine hit after the run is done. It’s also a fine time to catch up on my favorite shows or let good music whisk me away. Yet the problem persists — this isn’t what I want to be doing. I want to be practicing yoga. I want to feel the release of vinyasa instead of the instantaneous inflammation. I want to be practicing arm bars in jiu jitsu, throwing jabs in my sparing class, and executing shoutos with my karate family. I long to feel connected to the strongest (and most confident) part of my body.
My dear, sweet, damaged arm.
I started feeling pain in my left shoulder last spring at the beginning of my book tour. I dismissed it as a tweak related to travel; wielding awkward bags and anxiety about the pending launch of my second book. I even remember asking a friend to dig their elbow deep into my back as I wriggled myself around the knobby bone praying for a pop of release. The tour commenced, and while the pain remained, I didn’t have time to fixate on it. The year continued and the pain ebbed and flowed. I did my best to stay out of martial arts classes and limit my vinyasas as I’ve learned from a plethora of injuries that the best cure is rest. Fast forward to a month ago where the rest wasn’t paying off (I suppose completing over 100 segment flights and constantly teaching doesn’t quantify as ‘rest’). I finally saw doctor and was given a concrete answer:
Torn shoulder labrum and biceps tendonitis.
Bad news: It’s torn. And it hurts. Obviously.
Good news: It shouldn’t need surgery, just some dedicated physical therapy to build up the rotator muscles in order to stabilize the shoulder and let the tear heal up.
This image is from happier shoulder days, and my quote is from an old interview, but the timing of the photo and post (shared tonight) is perfect. Fast and shiny: allowing myself to be defined by my body’s abilities. Solid and real: defined by my ability to find strength in patience and healing. This life is cyclical, and I’m just chilling at the bottom of the ferris wheel as they fix the engine.
I’m now two weeks into my therapy. I visit my PT twice a week to get dry needling, ultrasound, and muscle stimulation, followed by exercises with the resistance band (my daily work). My therapist asked me how I was feeling as the slow and persistent burn of the external rotation band work set in.
“I want my shoulder back,” I quipped. “But I suppose you hear that from every single person in this office, huh?”
He gave me a kind, weathered smile of agreement. It was no better than the people who ask me if I have a dog named Toto when I tell them I’m originally from Kansas. No one wants to be injured. Rarely does someone possess the true patience to trust the journey to recovery. It’s always up to our personal calendar; not that of our body.
My smile knowingly joined his. Yes, this is my journey. My arm gave out on me for a reason. Perhaps it was years of wear and tear. Too many vinyasas; overbuilt muscle groups; martial arts; the grind of travel and lugging bags. Or maybe it was emotional? The anticipation and expectation hangover of releasing my book; the demise of my marriage; the stifling of my voice amongst the weeds of my experience. At this point I don’t even need to know why, because I’ve shifted all of my energy from the ‘why’ into ‘yes, and …’.
Yes, and I want to move on. I’m ready to drop the story, the need to understand, and move forward. I’m ready to … run?
So yeah, do I like running on a treadmill? Now that I really think about it —yes. What I really like is having a body. A body that gives me the ability to run. To modify. This resilient and delicate body — especially when the narrative and ego is dropped — that has the ability to heal, restore, and adapt.
I am the storm.
I am the calm.
I am the hurt.
I am the healing.
I am the problem.
I am the solution.
I am all things.
photo: Andrew Cebulka