An easeful and consistent yoga practice with beloved YD teachers, Andrea, Heather, Candice, and Cynthia has provided Diana with “a safe space to fail, and a space to learn more about not only the body, but also the soul”. Please read on to learn a little more about Diana’s beautiful journey developing a practice and gradually becoming more at ease with simply “being”…
How long have you been practicing yoga?
14 months – those last 2 months matter! 🙂
Please describe your first experience doing yoga.
About 16 months ago, my friend recommended I take up yoga to help with emotional and physical stress.
I put my nose up to it saying I only like the last 5 minutes where you just lay there and take a breath.
About 6 months ago, did I finally fall in love with yoga, both Dharma Flow with Heather, Yoga with Cynthia, Flow Yoga with Andrea, and finally, Kundalini with Gisela.
About a year ago, I began Kundalini yoga with Gisela, and I feel Kundalini is the core, or foundation, of my yoga practice.
When I speak with people about yoga, people who have practiced for 20 + years, they ask me, “What is Kundalini yoga?”
Well…It’s hard to explain…
Kundalini is an emotional and spiritual practice.
You will leave a class, with your back hurting from all of the breathing, but not sweaty. It’s not a physical “workout”, rather it works out your emotions…
It’s corky too.
One class we snorted. Another class we banged against the ground to let all of our anger out. The “”anger class”” is what I call it. My favorite themed class in Kundalini.
One class, we walked around on our knees and elbows. We also whistled. In this class specifically, we were working on the second chakra.
We conclude each class by singing an Irish song after every practice… Weird… But, in this song, we dedicate each chorus first to ourselves, second to someone we love, and lastly to someone we may have a quarrel with and/or who is in need of spiritual uplift.
It took me 6 months to see how I have grown emotionally and spiritually because of Kundalini alone. I have felt and seen and have even been told, I have mellowed out. I am calmer. I breathe more, both physically and emotionally. Gisela and Kundalini is my therapy. It really is.
Honestly, I sometimes dread going to Kundalini because it’s one of those things that is going to be difficult. No, it’s not Ashtanga where you’re following a sequence specifically, regimented, and a billion people are in the class and you’re sweaty. Ashtanga, a practice which I have grown to very much appreciate, but Kundalini is a little…different.
Kundalini is not for everyone, but it should be.
If a person wants to grow spiritually and emotionally, and take time to work on their insides, not just their outsides, then Kundalini will help.
It has developed a practice of yoga for me in which yoga is more of a spiritual growth, and less on a mission to become more flexible. Believe me, I still hope to conquer a perfect “dancer” one day, but I would like to be joyful in the process… 🙂
What do you like about yoga?
Since moving back to the District, I have spent the last two years trying to build loving and caring communities around me. A lot of it has been up and down, a lot of mistakes, a lot of opportunities for growth and to become more self-aware. A lot of time to realize, I am simply human.
However, coming up on my two year anniversary of moving back, what yoga (specifically my 4 teachers at Yoga District: Gisela, Andrea, Heather and Cynthia) has done for me, is that it has provided a safe space for me to fail. A safe space for me to learn more about not only my body, but my soul.
After two years, of the ebb and flow, I have learned to slow it down. To not rush relationships, time, or goals, including goals one may have with yoga. As with art, as with another human, one’s relationship with yoga should not be rushed. It should be a practice of subtle growth; growth in which 6 months later you will say, “Wow, my mind no longer becomes anxious when this _______ subject is brought up. Huh, I can reach past my toes now… That’s cool.”
Why do you practice yoga at Yoga District?
I practice at Yoga District because of the teachers and the communities they build among their students. Heather said it one day before class started: she said, coming to practice sometimes feels like a bunch of friends, just getting together, hanging out, spending time together, practicing yoga. It really feels like that when you begin going to a regular class… familiar faces become familiar yogis… A community is born.
And, I won’t lie. The yoga is affordable, and close to my apartment….:) ”
What is your favorite pose, and how does it make you feel?
It may not be my favorite pose per se, but I remember Cynthia telling our class that sometimes when a person comes into a specific pose such as hip openers, emotions that we were not aware of, could be released, could come up out of us unexpectedly. Well, my emotions seem to come out when I am in “forward folds”.
There was one week a few months ago, which was pretty hard on me. A transitional phase in life; necessary change.
Half way through Heather’s class, I “collapsed” and began to sit on my mat. I stopped my practice in the midst of it all. I went into child’s pose.
I began crying. I began to quietly cry in the middle of class.
As Heather motioned for another series to begin, with such grace and ease, she came over, and ever so gently pressed her hands on my lower back to deepen my fold.
I began crying even more.
I felt her warmth, I felt her love, I felt community while simultaneously feeling broken.
Three days later… I was in Andrea’s class, emotionally exhausted, still… And, once again, I stopped my practice in the middle of class. I sat down on my mat, and went into a forward fold. Andrea, as Heather did, came to deepen my fold.
And, once again, I began crying.
This time however, I went with it… I went with what I was feeling and what was apparently bottled up, deep inside…I allowed myself to not only cry, but also to “give in”.
Give in to not only my emotions, but finally, of my understanding of what Cynthia and all of my other teachers have taught, that yoga is a practice of self-awareness. Self-awareness, meaning coping and loving, both the good and bad, within ourselves.
So, I guess the pose that has altered my views on the meaning of yoga, is a forward fold. Nothing fancy, nothing thrilling, but it certainly has opened myself up for opportunities of self-discovery and relief.
Washington DC can be a hectic place where people can become stressed-out and overworked. What would you say to your fellow DC residents to inspire them to practice?
We all need to slow it down…. Stop rushing… Stop rushing everything… Either our desires will be fulfilled or they won’t. And if they aren’t, it’s OK. You’re OK.
We are all going to be OK.
Have you done yoga/meditation outside of yoga class? If so, can you describe the circumstance (what made you want to do yoga outside of class and what the effect was)?
My mentor who first introduced yoga to me, proposed I begin my mornings with this, everyday:
1) Think of three things you are grateful for, from the following day. It could be that you were thankful for a good happy hour. A good conversation with a family member over the phone. A meeting went well at work. Doesn’t matter, three things you are thankful for that occurred the previous day.
2) Set your intention for the day. Many yoga teachers say at the beginning of most classes, “set your intention for you practice”. I have taken that a little further and continue to set my intention for each day. Again, the “intention” could be as simple as, just let me enjoy work, the meetings, my colleagues. It could also be, let me obsess just a little less over this situation today, and be present.
The idea is to be meaningful, but it doesn’t necessarily have to take up a lot of your time. Meditation can be daunting if one thinks they have to wake up at 6 AM in the morning everyday to meditate… Although that’s wonderful, sometimes its impractical… What could be cool instead, is to “meditate,” throughout the day. Remember who and what you are thankful for, drawing back into the presence and out of our minds. That way it can be done anywhere, at anytime. All day.
How do you feel your practice at Yoga District has affected your stress level and the ways you deal with stress?
Yoga has helped me to get a little bit out of my head… To not be so anxious and rushed… I catch myself sometimes doing long and deep breathing when riding my bicycle or walking… Yoga has helped me realize how breathing, intentionally, alleviates underlying pain.
How will yoga continue to be incorporated into your life in the future?
I plan to have yoga be a part of my spiritual growth throughout the rest of my life. Sort of like church each Sunday, I plan to have yoga be a spiritual time for me reflect on my body and mind, everyday.
What do you want to share with others about how yoga has touched your life?
I think after this novel, people are tired of reading about how yoga has influenced my life. 🙂
Would you consider a yoga teacher training program to deepen your practice and/or to learn techniques for sharing yoga with others? If yes, please explain.
Maybe I could teach in the future. But right now, I enjoy being a student. I enjoy learning more about yoga and myself. I am in no rush to become a teacher; I think right now I am supposed to be a student.