Embracing the Dark

The Dark. The Unknown.  It can be a scary place. 

Although, I am literally still afraid of the dark at 24 years old (no shame), this phrase is often meant in a more figurative way. Today, figurative met literal on my mat. I wasn’t at a studio. I didn’t have a special routine planned. I simply stepped foot on Split Pea, closed my eyes and kept them shut for (approximately) 30 minutes  as I allowed my body to flow.  It was the most beautiful practice.

While I was literally in the dark, my mind was able to get focused and lost all at the same time.  As I sat in child pose to begin my practice, I became so aware of my breath.  I found that I was surrounded by so much calm and peace that I simply wanted to stay in this safe haven I created.  So, I decided to stay in the dark.

As I continued to flow, I felt self judgement be released with each breath.  Although I practice yoga daily, I know my form has a long way to go.  When my eyes are open during a practice, it’s so easy to look around and try to get into the pose perfectly.  As my eyes stayed shut during todays practice, it just didn’t matter.  Because it felt so, so good.  The deep stretch, the calming of my breath, the lack of judgement.  I was in my safe.  I was at peace. I was embracing a dark space. A space I had created with my self, for my self.

So, although the dark can be both literally and figuratively frightening, it can also bring you to such a beautiful place. A place that may never be found if you don’t take that leap of faith in yourself.

Maybe closed-eyed yoga isn’t quite for you.  But, however you approach the darkness, approach it with trust in your self, in your breath, in your body — your temple.

Namaste. The light in me, honored the light in myself today. It also honors the light in you.

Why The Best Yogis Don’t Have To Be Flexible

Hi, my name is Devin Gaynor and I’m an inflexible yogi.

I’ve pretty much always struggled with my flexibility.  I remember being in elementary school asking my gym teacher to teach me how to touch my toes.  And I’ve always epically failed the test where you sit down with your legs straight and reach for a line.  I’m pretty sure I always barely reached the box…

Well I’m proud to say that a recent accomplishment of mine was being able to touch my toes (woohoo!) A goal of mine is to take a yoga teacher training and one day own a studio.  My lack of flexibility had me wondering if I’d get baffled looks from people thinking “She’s going to teach yoga?!”

That is until I was in class the other morning and my instructor announced “I’m probably the most inflexible yoga teacher you’ll ever meet.”  I was ecstatically thinking oh my lanta I’m not alone!

You see, with yoga, it’s all about your state of mind.  Sure, you’re challenging your body in multiple physical ways, but, at the end of your practice, it’s all about having mental freedom.

Here’s how you can be a fabulous yogi without being flexible:

1. Modify: Your body is different from my body.  There are some things that come easy to me, there are some things that are crazy hard for me.  When you modify in any workout, your body is still doing work.  The difference is, when you modify, your body is doing work the right way.  Form is the foundation of building strength or conquering a skill.  I happily sit on my mat with two blocks by my side. If I’m going to treat my body to yoga, I’m going to treat it right by modifying when needed.

2. Film Poses: I’m a very visual learner.  I need to see something in order to understand  it.  When I’m in yoga, I can see how the instructor and other people are doing the poses, but I have no idea how I’m doing them.  So, I go home and film myself doing those poses.  It’s the best way to see if I need to raise my hips, lower my shoulders, or push down my heels.  Once I know what the correct way feels like, I’m able to repeat the movement on my own.

3. Just Breathe: A woman named Kylie came into lululemon yesterday.  We got to talking and I learned she was a yoga instructor in Brevard.  I was telling her all about my goals in wanting to teach yoga one day and that I’m working on being more into my own practice and working on my flexibility first.  Then she shared literally one of the best ideas ever: If you can breathe, you can do yoga.  Yes, yoga has helped me become stronger physically, but at the end of a practice, I feel best because yoga has strengthened me mentally.  And it did that by teaching me how to breathe.  At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about: breathing.

So, if you’re going into a yoga class with the mentality of getting a kick ass workout, being the strongest and most flexible…you’re doing it wrong.

You want to be a better yogi?

Just breathe.