Posted on May 7th, 2013
“Experience resides in the cells.” Angel Kyodo Williams
This statement slapped me in the face. As a yoga instructor this information is not new knowledge to me, nor is it something I have not said myself multiple times. Yet on the first day of the Empowered Youth Initiative training it resonated with me in a much more powerful way.
I love teaching challenging arm balances, inversions, the face your fears, “oh shit!” poses. Not only that, but I love the shake and quiver of a long intense hold in Utkatasana (it’s named fierce pose for a reason). My students often proclaim that I just love to inflict pain and suffering on them, but the reality is I know and have experienced the powerful tool asana can be. You have to let it be your tool. Go into practice as if every asana is a new pose and experience. The reality is that it is new! We hold different space mentally and physically every time we step on the mat. Asana has the ability to put the nitty gritty stuff right in front of your face and say, “now what?” It is in those moments of discomfort and fear that things begin to shift on a cellular level.
I dare you to go into a class and have no agenda for that practice. Allow someone else to take you on a journey. That journey may not be exactly where you wanted to go, enjoyable, may have not included the poses you wanted, but that experience, in those moments being present in your body, things begin to change. Our mind is a sophisticated machine. I’ve been facing my fears on the mat for 7 years now. You have the ability to change your path, to do what you want and be the person of your dreams. That being said it’s time to start the second day and practice!
MacKenzie Miller of Seattle, WA, is an Off the Mat leader participating in the Empowered Youth Initiative (EYI). EYI gives leaders unparalleled access to groups and institutions who work with at-risk youth, so that leaders can better understand the personal, cultural, socio-economic and political challenges these youth face, and incorporate this deeper knowledge and training into their own work serving youth.
Help Off the Mat to continue and expand our programs like the Empowered Youth Initiative. Join the Seed Network and donate the price of one yoga class per month to Off the Mat, Into the world. When you join the Seed Network, you invest in a community of leaders, like MacKenzie Miller, who are initiating grassroots social change from the inside out.