A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a Yoga in Schools conference, put on annually by Breathing Space in Halifax, N.S. As I sat in a room with 55-60 school teachers, yoga teachers, and resource / guidance counsellors, I very much wondered what I was doing there. In this space, I was ‘just a Mum’, on a bit of a mission to understand how movement and yoga could help empower myself and my own children to love and respect our bodies. The event is really for teachers or school faculty who want to teach yoga within the school system. I do not fit that criteria, at all, but I signed up on a bit of a hunch. I wanted to have a deeper understanding of the Yoga in Schools program, so that I can volunteer at my kids Yoga in Schools program that is being launched this fall at their elementary school. I was also interested in learning more about some of Breathing Space’s program offerings, such as Girl on Fire, which is a girl’s self-love and empowerment program.
When I was a child, I dreamed of being a teacher. I spent hours and hours in the basement where we had a chalkboard and pillows, teaching anyone who would listen. My dolls, my siblings, and many of the neighbourhood kids. But as junior high rolled around, and I saw how much we tortured our teachers, I didn’t think I could handle it. If kids were like us, I didn’t want to expose myself to that level of meanness and criticism.
Throughout the conference, I heard all these amazing women (and one lone male!), talk about how using yoga, meditation, and mindfulness in their classrooms has improved the energy of the space. It hit me – why I was truly there. I was there to learn from these teachers, so at home, I could incorporate some of their learnings, into my pursuit of creating a calm, more compassionate environment for my family. I have naturally been using some of what I have learnt about mediation and energy in the last couple of months with my kids, and I got really excited when I realized I now had access to 60 experienced teachers. I listened and just tried to absorb as much as I could.
During one of the afternoon sessions, we were divided into 2 groups. The first group was for certified yoga teachers, and they headed off to one room to do a 3 hour workshop on yoga inversions. The other group was for those not yet certified, to learn sun salutation basics. I immediately went over and asked the event organizer if I could please join the yoga teachers and the inversion group. I have not been able to invert myself since I injured my wrist doing yoga 3 years ago, and as hard as I have tried to get upside down, I can’t. I really wanted to go with that group. He said, “No, definitely not. Only certified yoga teachers.” I bit my tongue and joined my designated group. But as I sat down in the room, I started to get really uncomfortable. I wasn’t in the right place. I really didn’t want to be there. I wanted to do inversions. I needed to do inversions for my own practice. This was an amazing opportunity and I didn’t want to miss it. I got up. All eyes were on me. I walked over to the event organizer again, and said, “I need to do inversions. I would really appreciate if you could allow me to go with the other group.” I had my mat with me, and was really to go. I felt his energy shift, as he looked as his wife, who was also facilitating the event, and she nodded her head yes.
I beamed and jumped with joy and ran to the other room. They were just getting started. I found a place along the wall, and over the next few hours, the lovely Careen McNeil guided us through a series of postures leading to headstand. I’ve never been able to do headstand. I so badly wanted to do headstand. She worked us into it, with donkey kicks, teddy bear, then with blocks to support the shoulders, and the wall for stability. Towards the end of the workshop, I went up! I WAS UP! I giggled, the other girls clapped, and euphoria rushed through my body.
After the class I had to go to a work meeting, and 2 of the guys in the meeting commented that I was beaming. “Could we have some of what you’re taking, Becky?” It was such a powerful combination of following my intuition – first of all knowing I should be at the conference, then knowing I needed to be in the inversion room, and then succeeding at something that has mystified me for years! That night I went home and kept practicing over and over, gaining confidence, and getting further and further away from the wall each time.
Brene Brown says something about listening to your heart – and that when you listen, it will start speaking to you louder and louder. What I have learnt is that in order to hear your heart, you need to open space around it first. You may need to clear some of the noise that could be blocking the messages your heart is trying to send you, but once you do, I truly believe the ability to follow your intuition begins to strengthen.
Lean in, listen up, and follow the cues!