by Rebecca Rose Goetz, MPH
YOGA AND LOVE.
Two of the most powerful words I know. They both conjure up images, feelings, and even physical sensations in the body. Is there a connection between the two?
by Rebecca Rose Goetz, MPH
“A loving heart is the beginning of all Knowledge.”
– Thomas Carlyle
YOGA AND LOVE. Two of the most powerful words I know. They both conjure up images, feelings, and even physical sensations in the body. Is there a connection between the two? Absolutely. How do I know? The only way we can really know anything—through personal experience, of course. You can read about yoga and you can read about love, but in order to truly understand either of them you have to experience them.
One of the images that comes to my mind when I think of both yoga and love is a seed—small in size and a hard outer coating. Most people come to yoga small. They don’t want to get in anyone’s way. They want to do everything the right way. They don’t want to breath too loud. They want to look around and see what everyone else is doing. They don’t want to chant the sound of OM. They want to get a feel for what this yoga stuff is all about before they let themselves really enjoy it.
Most people approach love in much the same way. They want to please the other person. They don’t want to seem undesirable to the other person in any way. They only want to show off their best qualities. They don’t want to be bothersome. They want to know how the other person feels before they admit how they feel. They don’t want to get hurt so they try to get a feel for what the other person is all about before they really let themselves have too good a time.
This tendency to be small is not necessarily a bad place to start. After all, that is how we enter into the world. We believe that when we are small we are somehow going to be protected, just as we were in those early stages of life. In a way, every new beginning takes us back to those early days. Back to those times of uncertainty to what lies ahead.
Often when people are uncertain, they show up small, whether it be to their first yoga class or on a first date. A hard protective shell surrounds them. A small seed. Yet also like the seed, people show up for yoga and for love with the hope for growth. The hope that their practice will grow stronger and deeper. They hope that their love will grow stronger and deeper.
“Most people come to yoga small. They don’t want to get in anyone’s way. They want to do everything the right way. They don’t want to breath too loud.“
It’s interesting to place yoga and love in this juxtaposition, because there are so many striking similarities, and so much potential in both. Yet for many, breaking out of their protective shell is beyond what they are willing to do. Most people prefer to stay tucked away in their own comfort zone. But staying in your own comfort zone, by definition, does not allow for growth. Growth, in all aspects of life, comes from taking a risk. The seed must eventually burst through the hard exterior if it is going to live. And while a seed is a lovely place to start, it’s not a long-term solution. It’s a place of potential, and potential is only useful when it is tapped into.
Yoga is about being big. It’s about taking on more. Opening up. Peeling away at the layers of tension and doubt. Shifting the energy from that of separateness to that of connectedness. The same can be said for love. Yoga is a practice of love. It’s an expression of Self-love. When you practice yoga, you show up for yourself. You come face to face with your strengths and weaknesses and you learn not to rely completely on one or hide from the other. You learn not to judge or react so quickly. You find compassion for yourself and for others. From shy, meager beginnings, yoga can flourish into an act of loving-kindness.
Loving-kindness starts with the Self. It grows outward from there, emanating and flowing into the world. Whatever kind of love you’re looking to expand, whether it be passionate love, love of your family, love for humankind, love of the earth, or love of God, it all begins with Self-love. It must start from within. Once you feel connected to yourself, to your core values and beliefs, to your sense of what is right, then you can share that connection. You can share your experience of Self-love with others, modeling acceptance and forgiveness.
“Now, I take up as much space as possible on my mat. I give myself permission to make mistakes, to fall. I breath loud enough for others to hear me.“
In my personal experience, yoga opened my eyes to all the ways that I was avoiding love. It revealed the fears and stories that I was telling myself. It gave me the courage to move beyond that self-protecting shell. Yoga not only reconnected me to my feelings; it gave voice to those feelings as well. And in the process, my yoga got big.
Now, I take up as much space as possible on my mat. I give myself permission to make mistakes, to fall. I breath loud enough for others to hear me. I don’t need to look around to see if I am doing something right, I listen to the instructions and explore the posture, knowing that there is no one way of doing it. I enjoy creating the sound of OM and letting my vibrations out, and most importantly, I enjoy my practice. I enjoy my practice because it’s how I show up for myself.
Who you are on the mat is who you are in life. If your practice is big and full of love, chances are your life will be big and full of love too. It’s like that.
Rebecca Rose Goetz, MPH
Rebecca is a yoga instructor and the owner of Sat Nam Yoga in Bethel, Connecticut. She completed her yoga teacher trainings through the Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga Institute as well as the Prenatal Yoga Center. Vinyasa Yoga has been a transformational force in her life and she feels passionately about passing on all that yoga has to offer.
Her undergraduate work at Ithaca College was in Health & Physical Education and she works as a high school teacher in Brewster, New York where she was nominated for “Educator of the Year” in 2009. Rebecca also has a Masters Degree in Public Health (MPH) from New York Medical College with a concentration in Behavioral Science and Health Promotion.
In both her personal and professional life, Rebecca strives for and encourages others to make healthy choices that improve overall quality of life. For more information on Rebecca or Sat Nam Yoga please visit BethelYoga.com or LiveHappyBeHealthy.com.