Back in high school, I always looked forward to the end of my violin lessons. My teacher’s face would always light up when he talked about his home town. He talked about how free the streets of New York were. He would always tell me I could be whatever I wanted, that I had a voice, that I had a kind of melody, even when I wasn’t in tune.
Since then, I always dreamed of moving to the States. I wanted to be free in the streets of New York City. I wanted to sing, and I wanted my voice to be heard even if I wasn’t on pitch. I wanted to fly, even though my wings were broken.
For years, I lived with expectation. I was expected to attend university, where I would ace every single exam. I was expected to act like a lady, and I was definitely expected to not disagree with any of this. My career path was chosen for me before I could even remember. It was something along the lines of becoming a lawyer, a doctor or a rocket scientist. I would shake my head at the thought of it. How could I become all these things when my favorite subject was drama.
Oh, how I loved acting. I loved becoming a different person. I could be whoever I wanted to be and live the life I always wanted to live. The stage had become my escape from reality.
Today, my yoga mat has become my stage. I surrender to the earth and become grounded. This is the time when I feel free. I feel empowered and feel myself.
When I moved to Los Angeles and began my yoga practice, I became caught up with the image of “perfection.” LA was the city of perfection, but I always wondered who actually sets the standard. Was it all in my head, or did I choose to please society? Was I really happy inside when I gave a big smile on the outside?
I fell into the trap that most new yogis fall into: The thought of always having to be perfect, having the perfect breath, the perfect poses, the perfect clothing, the perfect balance, the perfect mat, the perfect teacher, the perfect studio, the perfect… I could go on forever.
I eventually went to New York and sang in the streets of the Big Apple. I stopped living for expectation and started living for inspiration. I left the stage for a mat. The Elephant Man was no longer my favorite play. Instead, elephants were my favorite animals. I believe the sun chasers miss out on the warmth only found in the coldest of places, and I agree with my husband’s sentiment, “There is no higher level than improvement.”
Yoga has done so much for me. I have come to accept and love my imperfections. I have seen my past mistakes and future dreams. I’ve shed tears disguised as sweat, and I have felt the bliss of real-time inhales and painful exhales. I’ve smiled at the child in me and laughed at my important falls. I see who I am clearer today. I have flesh, curves, spirit, and life. I see not who I was or wished to be, but who I am. The best part is I see someone I love in every way. If I could be anyone at all in the yoga room, I would want to be me! I love my heritage, the color of my skin, the way yoga has made me strong, and the way my journey is unfolding, but most of all, I’ve learned that not much is so much more than nothing.