Beyond the Physical

Jennifer RhodesMy yoga journey did not start as a revelation; my background is not what I call “spiritual”. My dad is a pharmacist and I have a marketing degree. We did not eat kichiri and cleanse every season and we did not sit and find quiet spaces to find “answers”.

I stumbled into yoga because I bought my mom yoga classes as a retirement gift and I went with her to stretch. A year later I went to another studio where I found my teacher, who was deeply spiritual (I didn’t see it at the time, but I “felt” it). During my first private session, she asked me this pivotal first question, which changed everything.

“What do you want to get out of this?”

My answer: “I want to be able to waterski with my kids when I’m 40!” (I was 34 years old at the time.)

My teacher replied, “You know that there is more to it than that?”

That’s when everything changed and the awareness washed through me. Yoga can be more than just doing a perfect handstand!

I then started to explore how the poses (asanas) can channel into deeper levels of learning, healing and finding my true self (and you can too). When I step on my mat, I check in with myself – Am I angry? Overwhelmed? Fearful? Sad? Frustrated? We all feel these things but what do we do with these feelings? You can use the poses and your breath to release your sadness, stress, anger or fear. When I am in a difficult pose I tell myself, “Soften. Relax. Release.” Or, on every exhale I tell myself, “I am going to be ok.” or “This too shall pass.” Simple, yet powerful.

My hope is that we can allow ourselves to be more open in our practice, allow ourselves to “feel” more and “think” less without judgment. Exploring it, welcoming it, trying not to grasp for it and being patient – it’s not always easy! But know that you can use this practice to heal and cleanse so you can grow and evolve into exactly who you want to be.

My hope for every student, myself included, is that you allow the poses to take you beyond the physical into deeper levels so you can access the strength, compassion and happiness that is inside each one of us.