The following is written by Yoga Buzz scholarship recipient, Natalie Myers. Natalie is finishing up her year-long scholarship at Southtown Yoga this month – looking forward to continuing to see her on the mat! PS – a big congratulations to Natalie on completing graduate school <3
One of my yoga teachers recited an African proverb before class recently: “Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt,”. One interpretation of this phrase is that it is not possible to offer to another what one does not have or possess themselves. If we do not allow ourselves time and space to be completely with ourselves – unbound by the commitments and responsibilities we carry with us at all times – how free are we to give all that we want to give to one another? To live our full, compassionate and joyful selves? That reminder: Be patient, be kind – this is more of a reminder to myself. Being patient and kind to myself frees me to be that way for others.
And what does it mean to be patient and kind with oneself? For me, it means allowing myself space. I allow myself space through running, yoga and walking – those times when I am fully aware of my body and its movements. In these moments I can thank my body. How often do we thank our bodies? Taking the time to appreciate all that is special and unique about your own body and mind frees us to think more compassionately about our treatment of others. Being patient and kind to myself also means that I forgive myself. I do not forgive myself for not being active or for indulging in a beautiful pastry. Those things are not bad and do not warrant the need to forgive. I forgive myself for emotions of guilt, frustration and impatience which are natural parts of our human condition. A large part of mindfulness is simply being aware of our treatment of both ourselves and others.
Yoga and movement allows me this space I find so crucial to my wellbeing. After being introduced to yoga during my youth, I was able to draw on the mindful and healing practice to take me through a difficult and long injury and recovery during my collegiate athletic career. Through this practice, I was able to take a step back and feel strong in my body and mind during a time of trial. I had felt that I was stripped of my running identity and yoga carried me through that difficult time. How can I be patient and kind to others if I cannot be patient and kind with myself? A year of dedicated (almost) daily practice of yoga, surrounded by the community a studio provides, has allowed me to spend time in acceptance and respect for my body and mind.
Last week I completed my Dietetic Internship and graduate career. As I shed the label of ‘student’ that I have held onto for so long, I reflect on what it means to be a happy and healthy individual. To me, it means allowing space, forgiveness, joy, laughter and compassion. As I enter this next chapter I know it will be yoga that grounds me and frees me from the harsh judgment I can so easily rain down on myself. Be kind to oneself in order to be kind to one another.
“The nature of yoga is to shine the light of awareness into the darkest corners of the body”
May you be bountiful, blissful and beautiful.