Being grateful is good.
Being the annoying grateful person is annoying. We’ve all seen it on social media. Some jackwagon who is often grateful for the superficial (pumpkin spice lattes!) or conveys a sunshine and lollipops view of gratitude that papers over the human reality of negative feelings.
I find myself being grateful more these days, and expressing it, not because it’s my default. But, because being grateful has not exactly been a natural state of being for much of my life.
I woke up today anxious. That’s not been an uncommon occurrence of late. Work is too overloaded and stressful, with too many big ticket items demanding concurrent attention. That has spill over effects on the rest of my life; big ones if I’m not intentional about balancing that.
So, yes, I was anxious. I also had a comparatively lazy morning to start. Sleeping in, allowing myself to doze after I first woke up — after I quieted my mind down — rather than leaping into chores and other duties. I’m grateful for that after a long draining week.
I’m grateful too for the full-on ass kicking of a hot power vinyasa yoga class taught by fellow yogi and friend, Leslie Whitecrow this morning. I set an intention to have fun in it, which as a little optimistic given my sore body facing what is always a challenging class!
Mission accomplished. It was fun. It was hard (my body is kind of shaking afterward), but I sweated like crazy, pushed my mind, body, and soul…and got out of my fucking head.
Perfect. My kind of Saturday morning. I’m grateful for that.
Which got me thinking, when I really consider what I’m grateful for in terms of people and experiences, so much of it relates to yoga.
- Yoga was and is a big element in the ongoing transformation my lovely bride, Stephani, and I have experienced as individuals and as a couple.
- Bindi Yoga studio, where I began practicing seriously is where I grew as a student, learned to be a teacher, and now have the pleasure to teach (and I like teaching way more than I ever would have guessed!). Thanks, Michelle and Susan for welcoming me in all ways at Bindi. Thanks Irene Toklar for teaching me to teach. And thanks to the whole crew of employees and students at Bindi for being part of a community!
- Twist Yoga studio, where my lovely bride earned to teach — and teaches today — has its own vibe I’m grateful to experience. Jenn Mitchell is a cool owner and together with Heather Falkin have a greater teacher training, which feeds the vibe of the studio itself (and I love taking classes with them!). I’ve also met more of my people there, like fellow swimmer and yogi, Meredith Storey.
- Breitenbush: the retreat where Stephani (and Meredith) finished their teacher training was an awesome experience. Our daughter and fellow yogi, Sophia, joined us on that trip, which was a remarkable, totally disconnected from the rest of the world opportunity to be our authentic selves without interruption.
- Wanderlust: a festival for yogis, and my God, if Wanderlust at Whistler, BC this summer was one of the best experiences my lovely bride have had together (see that same link as above for more!).
- Yoga gives me balance. Physically, to balance out the rest of my workout regime and manage my injuries. Emotionally, giving me an outlet to release the bad and amplify the good. Mentally, to quiet the mind when I need it most. And spiritually, to combine the previous three into a unified mind, body, soul connection.
- Indeed, Yoga makes connections. I’m a swimmer. I love meeting and talking to other swimmers, especially successful ones. The best conversations I’ve had separately with two local, Olympic swimmers have been about yoga and how some of its key concepts are applied to our lives. One, Ariana Kukors, is someone I met professionally and now consider a great friend. A second, Emily Silver, I’ve talked to once at length, and by the virtue of yoga, got real and deep in the conversation almost right away. That one conversation helped cement in my mind I should take teacher training (Emily was in teacher training herself at the time and is a teacher today). I’m grateful to Emily for her willingness to get real and play a role in prodding me on my own path. That’s the power of one conversation.
- Teachers: you don’t love every yoga teacher or class you encounter, but the yoga focal points I’ve experienced all have brought me in their unique way to experience teachers I appreciate, beyond those I’ve already mentioned: Alexis Zudro and Shanah Walters at Bindi, Janell Hartman at Twist and Breitenbush, Jackie Elliott, Ally Maz, Chelsey Korus, and Matt Giordano at Wanderlust. I didn’t even actually meet everyone I named, but they’ve all had an impact.
That very fact you can have that range of interactions, from experiencing a class (and never meeting), to having the deepest of conversations about the topic describes yoga in an anecdote. It is what you make of it, starting exactly where you’re at, and moving forward from there.
Maybe you’re reading this, and maybe you’re even aware of a little of my story, and am surprised that my gratitude for yoga runs so deep beyond just the physical practice…going deeper into the people and experiences, as well as the full quadrinity of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits one finds within the practice itself.
That’s because the power of yoga goes is truly deeper than that powerful quadrinity. It goes to the tribe you chose to be around. The tribe that brings out the best in you. The tribe that keeps you wanting to come back for more: 1 on 1, in small groups, in big classes, and in giant, hundreds-of-people-in-one-place festivals. That’s the power of yoga.
And I’m grateful for it. Namaste.