One Saturday, I got up at 3 a.m to do yoga. Last weekend actually. I went to Louisville, Kentucky with several people from my yoga studio to an all day immersion, led by Baron Baptiste, the son of the founder of Baptiste Yoga.
What is Baptiste Yoga? It is a practice that is built upon a physical yoga practice, meditation, and inquiry. The goal is transformation- into full potential, creativity, passion; and development of confidence, autheticity, and possibility. Yeah so…what does that mean? In my own words, Baptiste is a practice that will change your life- if you are willing. In this practice, I have found anxiety relief, physical strength, breath, FUN, new goals and intentions, and confidence. More importantly, I have found community. Friends! Like friends who like the same exercise as I do! For the first time in my life, I’m not just exercising to burn calories or “earn” food; but I am practicing to be a better version of myself. I am practicing because it gives me peace. I am practicing because yoga plays a huge part in my recovery.
Anyways. In classic Epic Yoga style, the group I carpooled with arrived approximately 10 minutes before the programs start. We grabbed our mats, straps, and blocks, and made our way to the very back of the room. Music was blaring and the room had so much energy! Baron Baptiste appeared shortly after, thanking us all for coming.
Until lunchtime, we were led through several fundamentals, breaking down parts of the practice we frequently do. It’s amazing what looking at something in great detail can help you change the way you do it…and leave you sore in muscles you didn’t know existed the next 3 days after! During lunch our Epic tribe took the opportunity to snap a few group photos as we ate outside in the beautiful weather.
Since Baptiste Yoga is not solely about the physical practice, we spent the first part of the afternoon in “Inquiry.” For these exercises, we partnered up with someone near us and got pretty personal with some self-exploration (wait, this is supposed to be YOGA OMG). The room was filled with vulnerability, but also hope, as some brave yogis stood up and shared with 250+ people where wanted to give up being “stuck” in their lives, and what would be available if they let go of what keeps them stuck. Think of it this way:
Q: Where are you stuck? What would be possible if you let that go?
“I open myself up to the possibility of ____ and I let go of ____.”
What would you fill in the blanks with? Some of the things I heard were:
“I open myself up to the possibility of love, and I let go of being hurt and angry.
“I open myself up to the possibility of being enough, and I let go of insecurity.”
I open myself up to the possibility of deepening my practice, and I let go of expectations I have for myself.”
Baron Baptiste had us repeat these statements over and over again to are partners. You could see the tears and hear the laughter as people dropped what they knew. I could straight up FEEL the lightness, relief, confidence, and joy that came from this. One of my teachers is a firm believer in not putting labels on yourself and speaking what you want out loud. To be in a room of 250 people doing just that was pretty powerful stuff. Try it. See what comes up.
After Inquiry we moved on to Meditation. Personally, this aspect is my biggest struggle. I have a hard time quieting my mind and focusing on being present! I fidget, my legs all asleep, my back hurts, my mind wanders, etc. I can’t say I was particularly moved by the meditation aspect of the program, but I know many yogis were. Meditation is something I want to work on, because I am aware of the benefits it will bring.
Then…PRACTICE! It was SO neat to practice a yoga sequence with such a large number of people. Breath and flow filled the room, and I for one forgot about the outside world and its stressors. It was just me and my mat and my heartbeat and my body moving. Peace.
My teachers say “Yoga is about life.” I have to agree with them, even though some days I wonder if I “drank the Kool-aide” when I feel in love with this practice and the people I share it with. The weekend taught me to never say never. Had you told me a few years ago I would spend my time doing something like this, I would have laughed. If you told me I would be healthy enough to do this, I wouldn’t have believed you.But God knew what I needed in my life so much better than I did. Everytime I have said NO, He has helped make me a YES. Epic Yoga- the practice and the people- they’ve helped save me. I can see that there is life beyond my comfort zone, and that I can thrive there. I can see that letting go of fear and insecurity is healing. If you don’t change, you don’t grow.
So do something that scares you. Give something a chance that you’ve written off. Let people into your life. Be emotional. Be vulnerable. Fight for what you want. You might just surprise yourself- your life might just be transformed if you remove what isn’t supposed to be there in the first place.