Written by Kayla Reetz, Yoga Instructor + Trauma Supports Team Member
"Yoga is a work IN and not a work OUT."
Yoga is (or can be) as much of a work into your psyche as it is a work out for your muscles.
Many people start their yoga practice through the “asana” or physical practice of yoga, and it's a perfectly acceptable way to utilize yoga’s benefits.
I’ll admit that I’m also one that started my yoga practice with the “asana mindset”.
My journey began with a teacher re-certification course called Yoga for Teachers.
I thought, “Do yoga AND get credit? Here, take my money!”.
But I gained so much more from that two-day training.
There is an extra level to the practice of yoga- a bonus level, if you will.
I was in it for the physical aspect- and yes, thought it would be an easy credit - but left with emotional insights I never expected.
And, as any good gamer knows, you have to get through the main levels before you hit the bonus level!
Accepting My Body As It Is
For me, any style of fitness was never “fun”.
It had a way of only breaking me down instead of building me up.
If you've had me teach in your school, you may have heard me reference this.
My body has never looked different from what it is now.
It will never look like the models on the billboards.
It has never been able to run a marathon, let alone complete the President’s testing at the end of the school year.
And every fitness I did only reminded me of my deficiency in this area.
And then came Yoga for Teachers.
The level I was at was accepted and no one discriminated against it.
In fact, I was given modifications to meet what I could do instead of pushing for what I couldn’t.
And I was given time to explore without fear or judgment.
Now, a large part of this is also the fact that I allowed myself to do those things.
It helped that I traveled to Dubuque, two hours away from where I taught, which helped me free some of my timidness.
I didn’t know anyone, so what did I have to lose, right?
And it was the beginning of accepting my body for what it is instead of trying to reach someone else’s idealism for it.
Uncertainty and Letting Go
Fast forward a few years and I found myself doing the 95-Hour Youth Yoga Training during the pandemic.
Because I remembered how my yoga practice made me feel - the sense of confidence and security.
It was something I could control amidst so much that I couldn’t.
And I knew if I was feeling this way, many of my students would feel it too, but wouldn't know how to navigate through it in a positive way.
So, I wanted to give them a chance to explore and acknowledge who they are and know that they are accepted and loved for it- I wanted them to come out better than we teachers did.
And I almost left my position that year, but I knew it wouldn’t be fair to the school, my department, and even my students.
What happened throughout the pandemic was not an accurate representation of my value to the school or the school’s value in my program- it was simply all of us doing the best we could with the information we were given.
So, I decided I would give it one more year and I would strive to be more aware of how the program (and I as its teacher) felt each day.
I decided to be more aware of my purpose within it.
And it does make me sad to say that I was only validated to leave.
While the term “burnout” has been used in situations like this, I can’t say that is what it was 100%.
However, as a specials teacher in the arts, I do feel I had to fight for a lot of things that other teachers not in the arts either did not have to or not as hard.
Ultimately, it felt like it wasn’t me anymore- like I was turning into something I didn’t want to be- adopting a negative survival attitude that was not a reflection of who I was or who I wanted to be.
In February 2021, I was asking for a job at Challenge to Change, Inc.
I remember thinking what a long shot that was.
I thought “If this is gonna work, I know it’s the right choice. And if it doesn’t, well, then I’ll know that too.”
A couple weeks later I was in an interview and asked to come on board.
Fast forward another year, I was taking my 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training.
Why? Because I knew so many other adults who had the same things to work through as me- anxiety, depression, a lack of belonging or purpose and all the emotions we unknowingly turn toward to cope with them.
I knew I wasn’t alone and I knew I had a choice: I could choose to do what was normal, what was comfortable, or I could choose to get to know myself.
So, I did. I am working IN.
And I certainly don’t know everything and never will.
But my bonus level doesn’t stop.
It keeps showing me the big things and the small things. It reminds me when I am dropping into my old patterns and when I need to start jumping for the new ones.
Jump, reach, extend…explore and reflect.
I wrote a meditation to help give you an opportunity to notice and spend time working IN.
I hope you enjoy!
I wish you nothing but peace- peace in your heart, peace in your mind, and peace in the rest of your day.
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