Our popular contributor Kara-Leah shares the moment when she realised how much her yoga practice was influencing her trust and faith in life.
by Kara-Leah Grant
About five years ago now, I was working as a speechwriter for Ministers of Parliament in New Zealand. It was 2009 and the fall-out from the financial crisis was still on-going. Yet compared to everyone I around me, I was experiencing a degree of equanimity I’d never noticed before.
Why? Yoga. That’s why.
Here’s what I wrote at the time.
It’s been a full-on week at work – lots of different projects on the go, lots of meetings, lots of reviewing other people’s writing, and lots of writing.
Yesterday, it was a beautiful blue sky Wellington day. At about 1pm I decided I needed a break from the computer screen, so did the fast change in the bathroom, grabbed my yoga mat from it’s home underneath my desk, and dashed out into the sunshine for a short practice.
I had about 40 minutes before my next commitment – our Chief Executive doing one of his regular National Office Forums. He fronts up, staff set the agenda, and he addresses all of our concerns.
Settling into my usual sunny spot behind the church beside Parliament, I didn’t have any concerns at all. It just felt so right to be out there in the sun, sitting in hero’s pose, my hands interlaced behind my back, feeling breath move up my spine taking me into a slow up-lifting mini-back bend.
My head tilted back and the sun was blasting on to my face and I thought… this is the life.
This is my life.
This is how I integrate yoga into a full-time job, plus teaching six classes a week, running this website, and assisting my partner in renovating our home (his full-time responsibility at the moment.) We’re both working seven days a week, and we’ve got really good at sliding in the good stuff – ike yoga – wherever we can.
The fact I only had 30 minutes didn’t bother me. Doing yoga in a public place didn’t bother me (anymore). I just connected with my breath, and let my practice slowly unfold the way it needed to. At the end, I found myself in headstand, something I haven’t done in awhile. It felt strong, up-lifting, and energising – like anything was possible.
Skipping back into the office, I had the widest smile stretched across my face.
My work colleagues, who are somewhat bemused by my eating habits, zen-like attitude to work politics and commitment to yoga, were all hard at work.
One of them commented as I dashed in, “God, you’re always so up-beat.” Another commented wryly, “You’ve got permission to give her quick slap.” It’s the type of humourous back and forth that goes on much of the day. I shrugged, but couldn’t stop the smile. Headstands do that to a person, as does blue sky sun and yoga on the grass.
Then they spotted my tank top. “My god – she’s even got the smiley face on on her chest!”
And I did – one of my favourite yoga outfits is a bright blue tank top with a colourful outline of a smiley face. Just wearing it puts a smile on my face.
After the quick change, I headed down to the National Office Forum to listen to our CE give his spiel. One of the first items put up on the board for the agenda was “jobs cuts & redundancies.”
The over-all mood in the auditorium was somber, and even the CE joked a few times about how we needed to cheer up.
He took the time to give a broad overview of the recession, what it’s all about, how bad it really is, how many people are really unemployed (right now? 35,000 on the Unemployment Benefit). It didn’t change the mood much though – people are afraid right now. They’re afraid for their jobs, their mortgages, their income, their debt. They don’t know what’s happening, or what’s going to happen.
I have empathy for this – I understand where people are at when they experience this.
But you know what?
I’m not there anymore. I’m not afraid at all. I know that no matter what happens – if I lost my job, if we lost our house, even if we had to go bankrupt – I know that I would be ok.
I know the sun would still shine. That I would still be able to find a grassy spot to practice yoga. That I’d still enjoy jokes with friends. And somehow, this seems far more important.
Yeah, but where would you live? What would you do? I can hear the skeptics scoff.
Somewhere, with someone, doing something. That’s the answer. I have friends, I have family, and I know if any of them lost their house and was in need, I would do what I could. No matter what happens, when you’re connected to other people, and you have some thing of value to offer, (like teaching yoga) you’ll be ok.
This is one of the most precious things that regular practice of yoga has given me – faith. Faith in my ability to cope with whatever comes my way. Faith that whatever does come my way is an opportunity to evolve and grow. Faith that I will be ok.
And this is a wonderful, wonderful thing – especially in times like right now.
So next time you feel yourself getting worried, and fear grips your heart about your job, your mortgage, the economy. Take a deep breath. Take a look outside at the sky, or the stars. Share a joke with a friend. Give a family member a hug. And think about what you do have, and how fortunate you already are, and know that whatever happens, you will be able to cope.
If you struggle with this, well, maybe it’s time to get some more yoga into your life so you can so this with ease!
Kara-Leah is a writer and yoga teacher who has always been infinitely curious about the make-up of the human psyche and body. Regular yoga helped her heal and recover from chronic back issues, including a spinal fusion at age 16, and two episodes of psychosis at age 29.
Her daily home yoga practice began in earnest when people kept asking her to teach them yoga. She’s since trained as a teacher with Shiva Rea, and immersed herself in practicing, teaching yoga and writing about yoga. Kara-Leah lives just outside of Queenstown, New Zealand with her son Samuel.
She’s the publisher of The Yoga Lunchbox and has just published her first book, Forty Days of Yoga – Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice. She’s also a regular contributor to the Elephant Journal.