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  • Alex Robshaw

I need to be okay about being alive ॐ Part 3 ॐ Understanding my Yoga

To me, yoga is about freedom. As I mentioned a few times in part 2of this online journal, my number 1 favorite thing about yoga is that I don't need to care about being anything, or looking like anything, really. When I'd leave wherever I was living to go take one of Clearlight Gerald's classes, the last thing on my mind was how I'd look like -and as a singer-songwriter and performer, how I look like technically always has to matter very much.


As a student, I kept taking classes with Clearlight for 10 years for reasons explained in my previous post. However, another reason why I stuck with her and never went to take classes in studios before my first yoga teacher training is that the studios I'd see around seemed to make yoga very much about what anyone in there looked like -and that completely turned me off.


There are extensive articles and blogs out there about the harmful effects of this trend within the yoga community, and also without, so I'm not gonna go any deeper for now, but I will say this:

A 'fit' girl in a bra top and leggings is not yoga. So if this is your way of branding yourself as a studio, you are not advertising yoga, you are advertising a space for 'fit' girls in bra tops and leggings. And if you're doing that as a teacher, you may choose to go as deep as you can inside yourself, if you have the time and the interest, of course, and find the true reason why you're doing this, and spend some time in contemplation. Contemplate that, and contemplate yoga.


And now, of course, it makes all the sense in the world to wear that in a hot yoga studio.

I am also a fierce cheerleader of those remarkable people, such as Dianne Bondy, who are all about body positivity and use their social media and other platforms to advertise inclusivity of all shapes and styles and forms of bodies in yoga -because as transmitters and teachers of yoga, it is our role to make our teachings accessible to all. Props to you all for doing that. We need that.


What I'm saying here is that when I do yoga, the last things on my mind are my clothes, and what other people may think of my body. I'm here to be with myself, and that's all there is to it.


So I kept myself out of studios, because I couldn't find myself, nor my yoga, anywhere. Because there was also the issue of style. I wasn't seeing room for any alternative styles or even music out there -if I wanna wear a rock band t-shirt and listen to Parabol by Tool while I practice, I should be free to do it, and not feel rejected or that I don't belong in any space or community.


When I decided to become a yoga teacher, the intention behind my making music of creating spaces where people can be free to be themselves, and love being themselves carried itself into it as well. This is very important to me, because I never felt like I truly belonged anywhere, really, and as much as I remained integral and true to myself (why bother to change just to fit in and please everyone, really?), it does feel weird, still.


But my yoga isn't only about band shirts and practicing to eerie alt-rock music -it's first and foremost about receiving and getting to know my own practice. When you open to that which is yoga, you allow this medicine to work through you, giving your soul, mind and body what they need to remain in balance. When you direct your practice with your mind, thinking your practice will make you achieve this and that and it'll make your body look a certain way, I can tell you right now that you're going to injure yourself. And maybe you already have, and maybe you'll get an injury in 14 years' time, but I've never met a yoga practitioner who used to practice that way, who didn't get injured at some point in their life. It's those injuries that usually make people realize they were pushing it too much.


That's just how it is. Your body will tell you what it needs yoga to do for it, and if your will is against it, it'll do what it's gotta do to get you to understand that. Let you body guide your practice, and not your mind. Not your ego. Your ego has no place on a yoga mat. Give it some herbal tea and let it sip it smoothly on the side, next to your mat.


My 10-year introduction to yoga with Clearlight Gerald got me to experience the benefits of a well-balanced practice, understanding the necessity of a calmer, softer approach to it. My erratic lifestyle made it so that I welcomed my yoga practice as my daily opportunity to not overexert myself, and give myself space to Be, and to Breathe.


In 2018, after my burnout, I went for an Ayurvedic consultation with a wonderful holistic health practitioner named Farah Quiroga, who reiterated the importance for me to cultivate a slow, grounding practice. It's the best way you'll be able to replenish your energy, you've got nothing left right now, she said.


So I cultivated that, incorporating the asanas she had suggested to me in my daily practice, and that was my yoga. Grounding, calming, stretching, breathing, opening, soothing -a lotta hip stuff, a lotta leg stuff. My yoga practice became about developing flexibility, groundedness and openness.



I was very enthusiastic when I signed up for my YTT. I was on my 18th year of practice at that time, and was excited for the opportunity to deepen my knowledge and share my insights from my extensive experience.


Little did I know that I'd soon find myself completely lost in this training, and that it would take a while until I'd be able to find my yoga again.


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