Using Your Yoga Mat as a Microcosm for Life
By Chandra Lynn
It’s hard to begin to describe what yoga means to me but I’ll start by saying that your teacher is everything. I did yoga for years as a physical practice to learn how to stretch and stay limber. Little did I know it could be so much more! About ten years ago, I joined a fancy schmancy health club as a gift to myself after having a baby, and to give me extra motivation to get my butt down to the gym. The gift I gave to myself began to unfold in a surprising way when I walked into Kristen Dessange’s Affirmations Yoga class.
I attended Kristen’s class three times per week and it was like I found my church! Who knew I could find it outside of an actual yoga studio?! Kristen is special and I wish I could share her with you (and I hope to by integrating her wisdom into some of my posts and maybe convincing her to let me interview her for you). She is unique because she eloquently delivers themes to support the unfolding of the heart (and hamstrings!) to women and men that are “householder” yogis, not the kind of practitioners you’d find oming on mountaintops. Everyone can relate to her themes because they are universally experienced, while being so personal in how they affect you in class. She is an expert at alignment and sequencing, and weaving in impactful, non-religious spiritual truths from a variety of sources including science like biology and astronomy, hindu mythology, paganism, astrology and so much more. I really could go on and on about Kristen but the point is not to give up on yoga if the classes you’ve taken haven’t been right for you. Try more teachers.
Yoga has made me more flexible in my body and in the way I approach challenges that come up in my life. Yogi’s have to be flexible on and off the mat, and Kristen has taught me to do more than that. She’s taught me to use the yoga mat as a safe place to explore how I am with myself when challenged. Your experience on your mat is a microcosm for how you experience life. For example, if the teacher puts you in a bound pose where its hard to breath and it challenges your flexibility to reach around to take the bind, what do you say to yourself? Are you kind to yourself? Do you push yourself to achieve it at any costs (even risk getting hurt)? Do you call yourself names or compare yourself to someone better than you? Have you ever experienced those same feelings in other situations in your life outside of class? This is what yoga is about. Getting to know yourself in the safety of a class with a supportive teacher will help you understand that you were born perfect and still are!
When asked why she calls her style Affirmations Yoga, Kristen says, “For me, to affirm something first requires an awareness and acknowledgment of what is. This is the first benefit of yoga. The practice reconnects you back into yourself and your life. Once we have tapped back into what is, we have a window of opportunity to realize that we are co-creating with our life. This awakening to the empowered self must come from our sovereign, authentic essence – our soul. When we tap into our soul, we reconnect back into the universal spirit of life. This is what I affirm- the full spectrum of living from your authentic self- as collaborative participation with Spirit while embodied. To affirm the fullness of LIFE means that you affirm your full SELF. It is not a Pollyanna approach to life, instead it is the full on embrace of all this you are and all that is as a way to co-participate with consciousness. That is the yoga. There is no sugar-coating it. Can we fully embrace and participate with all the flavors of life as a collaborator with it? Can we dive fully into the joy, sorrow, passion and pain? This life is not something to hide from or deny. It is the very gift of embodiment and eminence that our soul longs to live. We are meant to live this live fully, as ourselves completely, with no holding back. This is the full gift of yoga.”
To learn more about Kristen, visit her website: http://good-life-yoga.com
Follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KristenDessangeAffirmationYoga
Take her class at Indigo Yoga in Walnut Creek, California
I have a lot of posts planned for learning more about how certain yoga principles can transform your life. Stay tuned to learn how to root to rise and ground down into what you’re certain about to grow and handle changes that are inevitable in life. I also plan to write about how yoga helped me process grief from the loss of two best friends and my step mom. And just wait until I tell you about my Shakti Sisters, a group of the most inspiring women I’ve ever met that have turned into my chosen family, a real sisterhood!