My yoga practice deepened last year when I made the decision to do teacher
training. I found myself on the mat more often, seeking to make connections
that I could pass on to my students. Little did I know the connections I
would make for myself. I started feeling tremendous emotions on the mat,
and intertwined with the emotions was my long term relationship with a man
who started off as my friend, became my best friend, my lover, my future
husband, and then left my life entirely. As my yoga deepened and
lengthened the time I spent internally, he claimed I changed externally.
Well, of course I had. As my practice of Ashtanga grew, so much of the
external trappings I was attached to detached from my new body, my new
heart, my new soul--and I had never been happier with myself and my
life....all except my relationship. This incredible man just didn't get it--couldn't get it, and didn't want to try. He wanted me to be the old me--
the dependent one, the weak of heart one, the one who trusted without
question, who overdid on food and material pleasures. I was no longer that
person. I am glad of many things that yoga has brought to my life and, even
though my relationship ended, it ended because for the first time in my life
I was living my life--not the life someone else expected of me. Yes, there
are lonely times, but I can fill them with meditation and now, when I smile,
I smile with my heart. People judge me as distant--but I know--I'm not
far away at all. I'm closer to my true self than I have ever been, and that
is the most important of all relationships.
I started practicing yoga four years ago, and it changed my whole life!
I was a person who questioned my self-worth constantly, which made it
very difficult for my husband. He felt that he always had to help me
boost my self-esteem to keep me going, and it became a burden for him.
Yoga has allowed me to see myself with compassion and acceptance, and it
took the onus off of my husband because I was able to see myself as worthy.
The change in my behavior has been so wonderful that for the past year
and half, my husband has been practicing with me! We start each day
with an hour or so of yoga, which has brought us very close together.
Sharing the beauty of equanimity has deepened our relationship, and we
see the future as full of possibility--together.
Devotion is sometimes called
Pranipatena in the scriptures (but another definition would be "surrender"--while devotion is a
state of mind, surrender is an action, but I think there is so much
interplay that you can't really have one without the other). Pranipatena
goes with pariprashnena and sevaya as the dharma of human beings. To
have devotion, to ask the right questions and to serve. What a simple
I think devotion to others--children, a partner, etc., can be the same as
devotion to god. There's this wonderful sanskrit song which translates
as: You are my mother, you are my father, you are my friend and you are
my beloved. You are my knowledge and you are my wealth, you are my
everything, my Lord of Lords. They say you can love God through all
those relationships and similarly you can love God as if s/he was all
those relationships for you. I think it's a beautiful way for people who
feel a lack in their lives (eg. don't have a partner or child and feel
something is missing because of that) to find that deep love. I also
think devotion to a guru or chosen deity is a beautiful expression, but
it's a sticky topic in America. Maybe sometimes in the west we are so
afraid of God because of how we've been damaged by religion that we kill
the concept and only have relationships to express that deepest bhakti--and unfortunately all relationships, no matter how perfect, are
transitory except the one we have with our deepest Self.
My name is Denise, I have been practicing yoga and studying the Sutras of Pantanjali for 7 years, and teaching yoga for 3 years. The challenges that I have been facing deal with finding a career path that fosters an enlightened atmosphere of love and true compassion for others, and when it comes to dating I find that many of the men in my age group, 27-35 or so, live unhealthy lifestyles. I live in Orlando, Florida and I keep finding that even when you meet someone in a health conscious environment, there is some addiction associated with them. Even when I express to them the reasons why I don't partake in unhealthy situations and reiterate the fact that I teach yoga to the community it doesn't make a difference in their decision to be unhealthy. I find that this is a blockage in our true understanding of our life and learning about the life of another.
I started yoga only because I had an injury and have always exercised but could no longer do repetitive exercises. Ten years ago, to me, yoga was an exercise. Today, yoga is my life and my passion.
Before I can relate to others, I first had to relate to myself. What understanding of "ME" did I have? Yoga and meditation has helped me to understand so much about my life by teaching me to turn inward. The more I went to a yoga class, the more I felt there was to learn more deeply than the postures. My changes were slow and not always recognizable. Today, I am a much calmer person, therefore, I hear what people say much clearer. I focus on the task at hand so I complete projects more efficiently and timely. I can take criticism without feeling attacked. I can finally say what I "feel." I can express my opinion without being forceful. I see the world as a much brighter, more welcoming place.
All my changes have helped me to strengthen my relationships with my children and friends. At work, I can multi-task easily, take a lot of direction at one time without confusion and relate to my co-workers in a mutually agreeable and compatible manner.
The best change is that I am healthier and have never looked so good physically--not just the shape of my body but the glow in my face. A friend told me recently that "the older I get, the younger I look."
Yoga has been my choice and has helped me with my relationship with life and love.
--Virginia Cataldo Cataldo