How I Convinced My Friends and Family and Ryan Reynolds to Do Yoga
But I Can’t Touch My Toes!
Like so many people who practice yoga, I have a story of how I “discovered” yoga and why I decided to share it with others. As a kid, I always felt “connected” to nature, the universe, and universal spirit. I knew deep within me that I was here to use my energy for good and help people. I knew this life was a place and there was a place before and a place after. This knowledge came from a place inside of me, a place all around me, in everyone and everything. Even people I saw acting horribly to others and myself, I knew were from the same place. When I saw unfairness, especially when someone was getting picked on or bullied or not included, I acted. It came from a place within. I had to do something and I did. Sometimes I was successful at getting a situation to change and sometimes not, and all these situations were small looking back, but the decision to act was an impulse I could never ignore.
I went to Catholic school in rural Illinois. A lot of the teachers bullied the kids in different ways from dumping desks, throwing shoes out the window, throwing away meaningful, personal items of students, throwing erasers, to chasing kids around the room. It goes on and on. The principal violently slammed kids that were “being bad” against the brick wall of the school at recess and before and after school time. Plenty of these acts of violence were directed at me, but I remember most the ones directed at my classmates and the intense feeling it awakened within me. The guidance was clear. It’s not easy, but you get up right now and do something about this. Do something.
A few years ago I was asked to come back to my hometown and give a talk at my high school and receive an award of achievement. I was most excited to get to reconnect with some friends from my high school who also went to my grade school. I asked the organizers if I could lead a free yoga class in the gym the day before the honors event, in hopes to see some old and new friends. A friend who I went all through school with came and I had to ask her if all of my memories are true. Did all of this actually happen? We did something about it every time, didn’t we? She confirmed every instance that I remembered and also that her and I and other kids stood up for each other. Wow, I was floored.
I share this not as a sob story, but as an origin story of my intense need to correct what is wrong and help people enjoy what they deserve. After my first yoga class I wondered why this practice that is SO AMAZING isn’t as normal and easy as drinking water? Why don’t we all practice yoga? And then I got to checking out the yoga community, discovering the abuse hidden in pseudo spirituality and the emperor’s new clothes affect happening within many people in power preyed on the vulnerable.
I did something about it. Made my own rules. Showed people that if you can’t touch your toes, you can bend your knees. Shared that yoga works best when it feels like you and the magic is inside of you, not a guru.
I said and continue to say all of these things, but it only works when the practice changes from rigid to ease. Even my good friends who were yoga teachers were ashamed I wasn’t “respecting yoga”. They were right. I have no respect for the abuse any system holds. But I do respect very much people’s right to exist and connect with themselves in a way that is healthy and harmonious. I respect our right to to gather in healthy and happy and supportive community. I respect you.
This is how I convinced my family and friends to practice yoga.
I changed it.
We changed it.
From rigidity and abuse to softness, ease and harmony.
From gatekeeping and gurus to paying attention to how you feel and responding to what you find.
From only the flexible can do this, to everyone can do this.
From exclusive clubs for a certain type of person, to everyone invited to class, always.
I learned if you want to be inclusive, get really interested in helping others. Listen to your inner guide. Take good care of you. Use your energy for good. Keep going with this as your center.
In addition to yoga, I’ve learned tai chi shows us all of this very clearly. I’ve jumped on the philosophy and practice of harmony and it’s increased my capacity to be effective leading yoga, ease, softness on and off the mat. It’s given me more courage than I had when I was a kid and showed me how to help others, even when it’s scary.
If you find yourself nodding along, with the desire to help and serve others, while moving in harmony with yourself, our upcoming Tai Chi for Yoga Teachers 50+Hour Online Training is for you. We’d love to have you.
We begin online in January 2024. You can register for the early bird today.
Oh and just for a fun throwback, here is a video of me convincing Ryan Reynolds to do yoga.
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50+Hour Online Tai Chi for Yoga Teachers January 14 2024 – December 2024
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Dolomites Retreat with Tara & Eat Pray Move
April 28 – May 3, 2024
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20+Hour Intensive with Tara & Mike in Geneva
June 29 & 30th, 2024
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Tuscany! Creative Writing and Wellness Retreat September 22-27, 2024
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