Current meditation in words about her yoga practice from the amazing Ana, one of our scholarship recipients.

Yoga, it’s all about stretching right? BLAH! Whoever said that has been incredibly misdirected. Before my first time doing yoga about 6 years ago, I was that confused kid, “practicing” yoga with the illusion that it would help me become flexible. Don’t get me wrong, yoga can lead to flexibility, but it’s important to understand that yoga is much more than just physical, that’s realistically only 50% of it. The other  50% is the spiritual practice.

My point of view: The spiritual practice is much harder.  So for what reason might I want to do yoga again? Well, for the little bit of time I got to practice yoga, it was the only time I felt at peace with myself. Guessing your next question, “Why did you stop?” Well let’s just say that it wasn’t an action I chose for myself. I didn’t really have a choice, I HAD to stop.

I personally think it’s a very cliché story but it’s mine and there’s no changing it. I was no longer able to afford Yoga practice after my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was no longer able to provide for my family financially. As a result, I had to work every single free hour I had in order to be able to pay for my own college and personal expenses. In addition to kissing my social life away, my family began deteriorating with my sisters suicide attempt and my father’s death soon after. I literally gave up any bit of happiness I held onto surrounded by the immense stress and chaos in my life.

Now that I have been blessed by the universe with such a wonderful organization such as this, my hopes have drastically changed. I’m no longer looking forward to yoga like I used to, simply a stretching practice, I’m seeing it as my only way to truly begin to focus on myself again. After the many years I spent giving to others and helping them, I think it’s time I begin to help myself now to. Now that things are beginning to go back to a more stable essence, it’s time to release the stress. Looking at an original definition of yoga, “submission to spiritual discipline and experiences to reach the state of the divine,.”

That’s what I think yoga will do for me. I’ve been able to find compassion and patience through my Buddhist practice, but yoga is that extra push which I think will be able to connect my physical presence to the spiritual part of this world as a whole. I’ll be able to join the two and truly balance my being, executing tree pose for hours to becoming aware of my breath and thoughts all at once and even balancing out the energies around me. Easier said than done, but I’m determined.

I only recently began my practice again through the scholarship at a school mate’s yoga studio. Half way into a class, Jamie, our yoga instructor had us do lizard pose. There I am with my elbows touching the ground towards the left without a problem. But as soon as I switched to the right, I could barely even get my palms flat on the mat! I was so blown away to see how truly unbalanced I was. That small second of sudden realization brought so many images and thoughts to my head. I began to think how unbalance I am, physically and not physically; from spending too much time at work and school and not enough with my family, and how much I say “I” during the day. Worst of all, realizing how much I’m trying to control my life and how it works instead of simply letting it be and experiencing it and just tweaking it here and there.

This realization manifested within just one pose in one class?! I mean, that’s incredible! Either I’m really beginning to focus on what my mind is trying to say, or Jamie is an incredible teacher! But now that I think about it and put it into words, I’m sure it’s both. The joy I get simply on the way to yoga class, is a joy I know yoga can bring to me at all hours of the day, not just on my way to it.

I AM going to strive for big wins with myself! I will push myself, but I will respect my body’s limits with open arms. Balance you know? It really moves this world. Literally. Stephen Hawking, my favorite still living scientist, would probably agree that balance is growth: while the universe continues to stretch…it is balancing itself. We are minute examples of an enormous universe.

~ Ana