Almost a year ago, I decided to open a yoga studio. There were only two things that stood in the way of my dream. The first was I knew nothing about business; the second was that I had never done yoga. The story of how the yoga studio came to be is almost as miraculous as the lessons I learned during the journey to open the doors and start my yoga practice.
1. On being an expert
Just because you aren’t the expert in one thing, doesn’t mean you’re not an expert in something.
I have spent the better part of my life trying to become the subject matter expert on everything that I involved myself in. I always assumed that if I wasn’t the expert, I wasn’t worth listening to. When I started this project, I knew nothing about business and even less about yoga. I filled my days talking to the “real” experts on all things business and yoga, learning and growing and building a business.
As the time passed, I began to realize that while I had gained a ton of new knowledge, I was still not an expert and there was a good chance that it would be a very long time before I was ever considered one. Then a local business organization contacted me and asked if I would attend one of their events as a business mentor. As it turned out, I was an expert in starting a business with no clue as to what I was doing, and I was the exact type of expert they were looking for.
We are all experts at something, even if it is not the expert that we set out to be.
2. On feeling good
If you want to feel good, celebrate your strengths.
After I opened the studio, it made sense that I should start taking yoga classes. I tried a variety of classes and found myself drawn to power yoga. The reason I enjoyed power yoga was simple: I was good at it and I like doing things I’m good at. It came easy for me to hold handstands and crow, and power yoga allowed me to move my body in a direction it would naturally excel in.
It allowed me to impress myself with what my body could do, and feel good. I would walk out of a power class and be fully prepared to take on the world. We are all strong at something in our lives, whether it is physical, mental or emotional strength. Participating in and celebrating these strengths on a daily basis sets us up to feel good and be happy.
3. On personal growth
If you want to grow, celebrate your weaknesses.
While I found my strength in power yoga, I found my greatest weakness in anything related to flexibility. I dreaded the Forward Fold and anything my teachers introduced as a “hip opener.” I knew I shouldn’t be looking around at everyone else wondering how in the world they were bent in half when I felt light years away from my toes.
I figured that the best way to feel better about my lack of flexibility was to just avoid all Vinyasa flow classes, and that way I would never have to worry about my shameful 3-legged dog or my abysmal Half Monkey. It took a little bit of time, urging from my instructors, and a lot of resistance on my part before I finally agreed to put the work in.
Embracing my tight hamstrings and facing them head on, instead of hiding from them, has allowed for the greatest growth in my practice. It took almost four months, but I finally managed to touch my toes in a Forward Fold. Doing things that come easy for our minds and bodies make us happy, but participating in things that force us to struggle and reach further force us to grow and make us proud.
4. On healing yourself
Headstands can cure just about anything.
My instructors are famous for telling me that “my practice is uniquely my own and no one else’s” and to “listen to my body.” As a new yogi, I tried to mirror my practice to those around me, and I failed to realize that my story was my own and that we don’t all need our practice for the same things.
Although I have a larger than life personality packed into a tiny person, I suffer from an oftentimes, debilitating anxiety. I have tried individual therapy, medication, and group counseling, but I found for me, the most effective treatment for something that once paralyzed me, is a headstand.
I can’t quite describe it and I’m not sure I’m supposed to. I just know that for me it is what my body needs under stress. I now famously pop into a headstand almost anywhere, and while that may cause the world to stop and stare, it is the one pose where my practice is truly my own.
As it turns out, everyone has that one place in their practice that no one else understands, and no one else needs to. Healing your own physical and mental ailments is unique and personal, there is no one perfect fit and we must each be open to finding our own version of healing.