Uncovering Ourselves through Yoga

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    When I first began practicing yoga I was immediately drawn to the feeling of freedom and exhilaration that I first experienced from my days as a dancer. It was amazing to be able to return to those moments in my previous life that were filled with bliss and excitement and then to be able to settle into a place of serenity when closing my eyes in savasana, the final resting pose we return to at the end of each practice. These feelings of wonderment, lightness and contentment were what kept me returning to my mat. Through my practice I began to chase, with much success, these feelings that were not readily available in my every day life surviving in the urban jungle of Los Angeles.

    "Why do you do yoga so much?" people began to ask.

    I answered, "Because it makes me happy!"

    Yoga made me recognize that the limits I saw for myself were simply things I made up in my mind. I started with the belief that I would never be able to do a headstand. I thought to myself, "That pose is crazy!" But through practice that belief, along with many others, fell by the wayside and I started becoming an inspiration to myself. My practice taught me to work intelligently towards becoming the person I knew I could be. My foundation seemed unshakable.

    But then something shifted. A volatile trip with my brothers made me realize that I wasn’t as happy as I thought I was. My foundation wasn’t as sturdy as I had hoped. I wasn’t content-I was just in denial. It was easy for me to solely focus on the good things in my life and turn a blind eye to parts of my life that I needed to face but refused to. This realization also challenged me to examine the role that yoga had in my life. Was there worth to it? What was all that work for if I’m here now feeling like I’m sinking in quicksand?

    The answer, of course, was yes. There was-and is-worth in the practice. The things that the practice taught me were undeniable. There was progress and there was transformation happening. The yoga exposed me to the joy I had been denying myself; but now my practice was asking more of me. I was being challenged to face the darkness: addictions, unhealthy relationships, issues of self-worth, my inability to deal with loss, etc. I was being challenged to move towards what we call in yoga "svadyaya" or self-study. Through the challenges of my self-study, which included a stronger diligence to my practice, I was able to recognize, face and move through these things that had been haunting me for as long as I could remember.

    Yoga is not interested in making us happy. Yoga is not interested in anchoring us in misery. Yoga is simply a process that-if you truly allow yourself to go through-reveals, in time, your true Self. This truth of Self contains the whole of which we are-the good, the bad, and the not-so-pretty-sometimes. When I say to my students, "Let whatever needs to come up, come up," are they really getting it? Are they getting that it is vital to our existence as spiritual beings on a human journey that we take in the entirety of our emotional spectrum? Yoga teaches us that we do not react from this place, but rather we take it in, experience it, and let it go.

    I liken this experience to imagining that my yoga practice has led me to a beautiful enchanted forest. In this forest, my senses have come alive. I see the vibrant colors of the leaves, smell the natural fragrance of the flowers and take in the satisfaction that only a full breath of clean, crisp air can offer. I notice the moss that covers the earth. Upon taking a closer look I see that the moss has grown over something else. It has grown over a well covering that I curiously remove, look down into and instinctively know that there is something at the bottom. I have brought myself to this crossroads. I can choose to stay and dwell in the beauty that I have enjoyed taking in or I can see what lies beneath the cold, dark water. My choice is to journey to the bottom of the well through the cold, through the dark, not knowing what the end will bring. When I reach the bottom there is simply a mirror and I see myself. The journey through the cold-now invigorating-water has cleansed me so that my reflection is clear and pure. I am grateful for taking the chance. I am grateful that I see and know my Self.

    And look. There seems to be a door down here that leads to something else. I wonder where this goes….

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    Kai Trinh has been drawn to movement all his life. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in Dance and Theater Performance. His love of movement led him to Los Angeles where he discovered his passion for yoga both as a student and as a teacher. Kai currently lives in Minneapolis where he is grateful to be able to share yoga with so many inspiring students at CorePower Yoga. He is the manager of the CorePower Yoga in St. Louis Park. For more information on Kai, please visit www.kaiyoga.com. Copyright © 2007 Kai Trinh. All Rights Reserved.

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