Self-love through the practice of yoga
Being a yoga practitioner when I look back on my journey as both a student and teacher within this practice, I remember the incredible growth I experienced, not merely from student to teacher, but from self-criticizing to self-loving.
I know today yoga is really popular for its physical qualities, which I do agree with, but for the purpose of this blog, I’d like to focus on how there is so much more to it. More or less, it’s not merely a physical activity. Of course it’s fun to show off your handstand and crow pose to your friends (I’ve done it frequently to my fiance to boast my incredible strength), but I contend that yoga has the ability to change one on a deeper more spiritual level. Standing in front of a mirror, moving through postures our heads can be filled with self-doubt and self-criticism; more or less, self-destructive voice-overs saying “You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re an embarrassment.” Yet, it wasn’t this experience that creates your self criticisms, it’s this experience that allows you to conquer them, and for me that has taken much mindfulness. It was in front of the mirror, comparing myself to the bodies and abilities of individuals in the room, that I truly began to love myself, my body and my breath. My yoga practitioner spoke of such light and love, reminding me that where I stood, samasthiti (standing posture or standing in the truth of one’s nature) was the way I was created, the way I was meant to be. Through yoga I became more humble, and accepting of the corners of my being that I often criticized or tried to hide. I realized yoga was more than postures, balance and flexibility; yoga relieved me of the pressures I put on myself. Yoga took me back to what I knew to be true all along: I was good, this body, this breath, this life was so full of goodness.
This is what really resonated with me about Wake Divinity. They too realized that professional programs are hard, and at times disheartening. One day you can feel on top of the world, and another you can feel so lost. Of course we can’t ever have a surefire way of avoiding these feelings, but we can be proactive, nurturing ourselves through mindful practices in our community and in ourselves. Whether it’s getting involved with the spirituality group or prayer group who holds space for you , taking advantage of the meditation room, or doing some yoga, there are many opportunities to remind ourselves how truly great and promising our lives are. This year the Wake Forest University’s organization Thrive, which focuses on well-being, is starting The Yoga Project: Tools for Life. This project is accessible to students, faculty and staff alike offering yoga on the quad as well as a class discussing the Yoga Sutras of Paranjali. I encourage all to try it and see how the practice of yoga can change you; there are also many amazing yoga studios in town that may be more accommodating for those of you who want to continue your practice long term.
Morgan D. DePerno
Morgan is from South Dakota and loves yoga on all days, but especially the rainy ones. She really wouldn’t mind if her life had it’s own musical soundtrack like in the movies. Morgan came to Wake Divinity to be embraced by a community who wants to help her discern what her true call is, and how best to find it. She’s never felt so at home.