The other day I sat down to do this guided meditation that I had found online. It was a meditation that was intended to help you let go and surrender. What I didn’t expect was to have such an intense emotional response to this meditation literally to the point where I began streaming tears from my face and sobbing out loud several times throughout the session. I didn’t realize that I would have such emotional response when things were said about not needing to be in control all the time and just learning to live with ease and flow.

I have always tended to try to control everything to my favor, to avoid my fear of being vulnerable or hurt. Always attempting to manipulate and coax situations and people to do as I desire so that I would get the results that I wanted in a situation. What I have had to realize is that I don’t have to try to control everything and that it’s ok to sometimes make mistakes or be put into an unexpected situation because that is where I will grow and learn.

I also need to practice letting go and surrendering more often, both mentally and physically. Doing this meditation has made me realize that I have a ton of layers of shit that I need to surrender and let go of. The release that I felt was both amazing and scary at the same time. Feeling completely open, exposed, and vulnerable and going into the parts of myself that I have kept enclosed for so long is not easy. Admitting to myself and to the world that I am not perfect and realizing that I don’t always have to try to create perfect situations feels both uplifting and scary. Always trying to give off the persona of being reserved, poised, and in control has led me to being in a situation where I can often come across as robotic and unrelatable. That trying to always be the smartest person in the room and being pedantic and persnickety is not helping me.

That there is no need for me to always try to force and manipulate what I want, but instead I need to just sometimes let what I want come into being with ease. I remember several months ago during the summer of 2018 when I was doing my yoga teacher training in India my classmates and I had been invited to the wedding of our teacher’s sister. It was a traditional Indian wedding and we were all going to dress in beautiful sarees. We were able to borrow beautiful sarees from our teacher but we would need to go out to the shops to get the blouse to wear underneath. Some time passed and soon we were only one day away to the wedding.

My classmate Esperanza and I set out that day to find the needed blouse and other accessories to complete our outfit. When after we had stopped at several stores and had been looking for a long time, I began to get frustrated and fearful that I would not find what I needed in time. I took the controlling approach. I left my friend behind and travelled to the next town over to look for what I needed. When I returned my friend Esperanza that had taken the approach of ease told me that in the time that I was gone that she had come across a shop owner whose wife was a met someone that was a local tailor from out of their home. She was able to find the perfect blouse that she needed that way along with beautiful accessories and with out exerting the force and extra effort that I did of traveling to another destination and feeling like she was in a crunch. She just went about her day with the desire to find what she needed without feeling attached to the result. She was able to attract it to her instead of trying to force the outcome.

Reflecting back on this experience now what I am learning is that not trying to control things can lead me to attracting what I need and want into my life more often and easier than taking a forceful approach.

I have been practicing yoga on and off for over 10 years. I've completed a 200 hr yoga teacher training and I've practiced a range of yoga styles including Vinyasa, Hatha, Baptiste, Bikram, Hot Yoga, Power Yoga, etc. What I've learned in this time and with my practice is that even with years of yoga experience that I sometimes need to go back to the fundamentals every now and then. Additionally as a new yoga teacher being in a fundamentals class gives me great ideas on how I can cue and structure my own classes for beginners when I teach.

I am able to look at poses in a new way and have several aha moments such as learning that my stance was too short in my downward facing dog pose . I also sometimes find that I am given suggestions on my alignment that I may not be aware of. This results in personal improvement and development. There was a time when I would feel as if I was "too good " or had been doing yoga for "too long" to go into a beginners/fundamentals class. Fundamentals, yeah that's for people that don't know the difference between a down dog and a hot dog I would think. I thought I was already way past that stage but what I am realizing is that it is important to continuously go back and review the basics over and over again and there is always something new to learn.

I've been really lucky and grateful to recently become part of a great studio with amazing teachers in Sunnyside NY called Suryaside Yoga. I've found myself taking a few of their fundamentals classes in addition to other classes that they offer and I plan to continue to take more.

So my suggestions for all of you "advanced and experienced" yogis out there... try out a beginners or fundamentals class and you may be pleasantly surprised at what you learn and experience. Furthermore share the last aha moment that you had about a particular yoga pose that you thought you knew well but then learned something new. For those new to yoga share how a fundamentals class has benefited your learning process as a new practitioner.

The past 3 weeks have gone by with a blink and I have had so many new and unique experiences. Learning, living, and volunteering on a farm is both a physically and mentally demanding task. Hauling around large rocks to start the creation of a rock wall, mixing clay and adding layers to the straw bale house, and creating and flipping compost piles are things that I would have never imagined myself doing having grown up in a city where a farm was always a place somewhere else. I never truly appreciated the work that goes into farming and creating life sustaining food for communities. As a permaculture farm Keela Yoga Farm goes a step above by using permaculture growing methods that consider not only the current state of what is growing on the farm, but also the future state of what is growing. By volunteering here, I have learned to truly appreciate the hard work and energy that goes into the food that I eat.

Harvesting a daily salad for the group has become a peaceful meditative activity that I have come to look forward to and learn about what is growing in the gardens around the farm. It has become an opportunity for me to have some alone time away from everyone and spend time with the creatures and critters in the gardens and connect with the plants that give us nourishment.

As I have been living here for the past month and engaging with so many different people with vast experiences, backgrounds, and energies, I have learned just how much I need to have time to myself to rejuvenate my energy and feel whole. When it comes to my yoga teaching, I have really grown and improved greatly in such a short time. My confidence in teaching classes has improved and I have received very positive and encouraging feedback from my students, which makes me really want to continue this journey of learning and teaching yoga. I am realizing that choosing to teach yoga was a good decision and that I can impact people and share my love for yoga in the way that I envisioned. I have seen and felt a vast improvement between my first class that I taught and now. I also recognize areas that I need to work on to improve my teaching and provide my students with the best, safest, and most rewarding experience.

In addition to teaching yoga I have also had the opportunity to lead meditation sessions which were very well received. I was pleasantly surprised when I lead a meditation session and received great feedback. I wasn’t sure how it was going but everyone came out feeling relaxed and at ease. I was even told that my voice is very peaceful and calming and that I should do meditation podcasts. That might be something that I consider in the future. This has taught me that I need to be more trusting of myself and have more confidence because often I am my own worst critic.

Oh and did I mention that the food has been amazing?! It has been great to be able to enjoy so much healthy and tasty food prepared by our lovely chefs. I’ve really been exposed to so many new and creative ways to make the same foods new, different, and lively. I never knew there were so many unique ways to make zucchini and potatoes! One of my favorites was a delicious mixed zucchini and potato mash.

So overall, the past few weeks has been an experience of teaching yoga, working on different projects and tasks around the farm, spending time in the company of other volunteers and people that are here, teaching and doing yoga, spending some time on meditation, mindfulness, and self-reflection, and finally enjoying great food and people.

(Written on October 19th)