• Alex Robshaw

I need to be okay about being alive ॐ Part 2 ॐ Understanding my Yoga

I came to yoga because it offered a deeper experience to exercise. I viscerally hated gym class, and the hyper consciousness I was born with had me feel very understimulated in high school. I was yearning for a spiritual practice that made sense to me. Everyone around me kept repeating to me how wise I was from a very young age -wise beyond her years, they would say - and I needed something to feed me properly.

I am Mauritian, and my ancestors are traced back to India, so it may very well be that somewhere down the line, I carry the practice of Yoga in my bones and blood.

I was fascinated with discovering how the practice of asanas contributed to the development of one's spirituality, and above all, I appreciated how yoga brought a deeper reverence to the human organism of mind, body and soul through asanas. I was quite a good student in high school, with generally very high marks, deeply loved by most of my teachers. Despite being consistently rejected and bullied by my peers, I knew I had worth to myself, when I'd speak to my teachers.

The exception was gym class. I just couldn't see the point. I mean, I understood the importance of cultivating a physical practice, but gym class felt so empty to me. Empty of meaning, empty of purpose, dismissive of humans are as a whole. I wasn't good at it, that goes without saying, and of course, high school being what it is, the athletic teenagers who were good in gym class were the cool ones, the ones who were accepted and praised. The popular kids. And then those like me, who had creative talents and intellectual talents, well, we got bullied, laughed at and rejected.

At 14 years old, I asked my parents to sign me up for community yoga classes offered at a nearby school. I only took a couple, for time reasons, but it was enough to immediately yoke me in. I remember doing a presentation on yoga in one of my world religions classes, I got myself into Halasana and everyone went woah, the singer-goth-freak can do that, who would have thought?

I finished high school at 16 years old, and officially started my yoga practice.

What I loved about yoga at first is that nobody cares about who you are. I didn't have to care about what I looked like or what I wore. I'd get to the studio-space in my sweatpants and just do yoga.

I find myself to be very fortunate to be a student of Clearlight Gerald. She was my first teacher, and remains my teacher to this day. I practiced with her for 10 years straight, then went on to develop my own personal practice for a while, jumping on to Clearlight's classes here and there when I could afford them and/or needed some guidance. Becoming a yoga teacher had me come back to her as a student, and I look forward to keeping on deepening my understanding of yoga as both teacher and student with her.

One of the keys to Clearlight's teaching is that she offers us the opportunity to witness yoga manifesting itself through us. She makes it clear that one of the fundamental aspects of the practice is listening to our bodies, always. If all your body wants to do tonight is lie down in Savasana, then do that. That's your practice tonight, that's your yoga, she would say.

I loved coming to her classes and begin by sitting with the others women in the room and share. Clearlight opened the space for us to open up to and about ourselves, and she'd provide us with elements of yoga philosophy to contemplate, talk about, and carry with us through our practice. She would also incorporate chanting, which was definitely pivotal to my own practice of yoga, eventually leading me to the Kundalini teacher training residency I am doing now.

Clearlight's classes made me feel like I belonged. It didn't matter what I looked like, it didn't matter what I was doing with my life, whether I was successful at any endeavour or not. Anything outside of the yoga mat didn't matter at all. It was just me, my body, my mat, and yoga -and that's what got me to fall deeply in love with the practice.

Yoga doesn't require you to do or be anything at all. Indeed, the whole point of yoga is to step out of anything that you think you are or need to be, and become a little bit more That Which Is, every time. As you explore and deepen your practice, you come to experience what it means to be Life Living Itself, as my teacher reminds me in every single one of her classes. And when you find your way to that, it suddenly becomes so wonderful, so simple, easy and pleasurable to be alive.

That's what gets me to whip out my mat everyday, for 20 years now. As an independent musician and singer-songwriter having always worked random dayjobs to help support myself and my art, all by myself, all the time, my life had always been extremely hectic. I'm basically working all the time, always having to Be Someone and Get Stuff Done. I'd use my vacation days at my dayjobs for studio work with my music, preparing for or performing live shows, and take care of the insane amount of business and marketing work that being an indie musician entails. I'd pretty much never have time for myself -apart from the hour I'd dedicate everyday to my yoga practice.

I burnt out in 2018. I couldn't handle giving my time and energy away to jobs I didn't care about anymore. Those jobs were draining me and I was running on empty, with no energy left to work on my music. I quit my job, and signed up for my first yoga teacher training. If this was the way my life was to be, I told myself, having to work a second job to support my career in music, I might as well do something that's completely in line with what's in my heart.

Whatever I do with my life has to fuel me up, everything I do must make sense and be in alignment with who I am. So I took my passion for yoga, and let it direct my soul.

Thank you for being here. By reading this and taking this in, you are contributing to the healing of the deep wounds of abandonment and rejection that I carry in my body, making me feel seen, acknowledged, welcomed and loved 🙏

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