As write this, I am sitting in the front space at Strala surrounded by posters that read: “Make Your Own Yoga”, “Take Good Care of You” “Super-healthy Body.” and, “Calm, focused mind.”
I wear a tank top that reads; ‘Who Made the Rules?’
Recently, with the help of honest and open conversation, I came to the realization that I am someone that needs rules and structure in my life. It was a surprising revelation, one that came with some discomfort. But rather than run from that, I have made a decision to use it to my advantage.
Over the past couple of years, I have done a lot of personal work, a lot of looking at my habits and coming face-to-face with my past. What I’ve learned is that I have created rules and outlines for a variety of things in my life in order to survive. That has been my biggest personal challenge to date; to admit to myself that I am a survivor; a survivor with rules.
I am a survivor. We all are to some degree. But I refuse to let trauma close me down. I am a survivor. I will use the restrictions I have placed upon myself to my advantage. The rules and structures I place on myself help give me focus, drive, passion. I will no longer be held captive to my pain. I will transform it into something beautiful. I will wipe the glass clean. I will be a vessel of light. I will live my dream life. I am fortunate. I am grateful. I am a survivor.
I notice these rules and the pacing of my life most when I have a day off or have an opportunity to stop. It is very hard for me to relax. I have to keep going. I don’t delight in naps because they make me feel more exhausted than before. Even my body knows.
My rules range from everything to books I read (even if I hate a book, I feel I have to finish it because I started it: Rules.), food; (I am vegan. No, I’m not. I will eat meat after 6. I will eat in a twelve hour window. I will start every day with warm water and lemon: Rules.), workouts (I have to do one more rep or push a tenth of a mile further than I did yesterday: Rules), mindfulness (I will meditate each day for at least five minutes and write in my journal until the kettle boils the water for my warm water with lemon: Rules.) and on and on and on. Rules upon rules. But the self-professed guidelines I have chosen to hold onto are, for the most part, healthy. They make my life better. I am a survivor. I will make my own rules.
In general, I am a laid back and a sincerely happy person. I don’t wear my feelings like a black cloud but if someone asks me a question about how I am doing, I will answer them honestly. I like clarity. I like to know where things are and how they stand. I like to know where I’m going, what I’m having for dinner, what time I need to be at a certain place and what color socks I need to wear today so that they match my yoga pants which match my tank top which matches my sport bra. Clarity and structure give me comfort. They help me keep a “Calm focused mind.”
Sure it can be exhausting at times. Yes, sometimes I worrying to much about the food I eat. It’s a lot to try and keep up with yourself in this way. On an intellectual and logical level, I am very much aware of my patterns of behavior but it’s finding the kindness to let myself discover these things that comes with the greatest struggle. “Take good care of you.”
As a yoga guide, I sometimes feel like a phony. How can I encourage people to take pressure off themselves when I am someone who exerts pressure on myself ? I lead RELAX classes two times a week. I should be more relaxed. But I am human. I do the best I can do and celebrate in the imperfection of that instead.
At Strala, we encourage people to move how it feels good to move, to play, to, literally, make their own yoga rules and, with consistency, these practices and mindsets can transfer off of the mat.
I found Strala after ten years of practicing yoga with DVDs, VHS and random classes here and there. This is very much my homebase, my family, my community. I am endlessly inspired by all of the beautiful faces that visit Strala – most recently the Spring 2015 trainees. In my passion to make others feel good and comfortable and safe in their bodies and minds – and witness this! – I, too, keep showing up for myself, keep doing the work and keep letting go bit by bit.
I share these things because this is my most authentic self. I don’t have it all figured out yet. I am hopping and breathing and stumbling just as much as anyone else and just because I make the rules, doesn’t mean I’m not finding ways to break them too, discovering that ease within my safety zone. I now know I can still be free within the Rae Box. This doesn’t mean I can’t guide people to explore this in themselves as I go. I don’t have to get everything right. I don’t have to do every pose and posture to be able to treat and guide myself and others safely, clearly, effectively and with kindness. I think this acceptance of self, of my own journey, makes me stronger, better, clearer, more able to support.
Rather than punish myself for ‘getting it wrong’, I am choosing to rejoice in the times I don’t hit my mark because I have the self-awareness to know that I can be better to myself, a little gentler, a little nicer. I am going to linger where it feels good to linger and when I feel any tension, I am going to soften on out of it, take a few deep breaths and keep moving.
Who makes the rules?