Two Yoginis

A journey of yoga, friendship, and transformation

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Beyond the Crux and Toward the Light

During a night out two weeks ago, I was asked a question about a recent blog post in which I discussed a metaphor about the light at the top of the mountain.

“What is the light at the top of the mountain for you?”

I struggled to articulate the answer to the question that evening. The words came out of my mouth: “the light represents the notion that anything is possible.” The question had caught me off guard and I was not prepared to answer it thoughtfully. However, it got my wheels spinning, and when I reflected on it afterward, I realized that the light at the top of the mountain is the guide to push forward when faced with a crux, whether literally or metaphorically.

According to Wikipedia, a crux is the most difficult portion of a climb. The metaphor of “climbing a mountain” is something Ali and I have discussed at length. This past summer, as we walked along the beach in Montauk, escaping our busy lives for a few days of sun, family and ocean, we realized we were both staring directly in the face of another crux. In this moment, I wondered what would help guide me get beyond this difficult stretch.

At each crux, there are decision points that determine the path forward. In the course of training to run a half marathon, Ali and I would hit difficult stretches, both physically and mentally. Each time, we made choices that would allow us to meet our goal of completing the race and living up to our commitment. Other times, I have hit a crux, and in order to move forward and reach the light, I have had to dig really deeply, sometimes looking at the very thing that was causing the difficulty in the first place. At times, it has been as simple (yet profound) as forgiving someone or myself.

Each person is a unique individual, and within each individual are certain parameters that make a crux easier or harder to get beyond it. That said, each person does have the ability to use their unique experiences and learning’s to get to the other side of a crux.

As one of our teachers, Bryn, was talking this past weekend, she said something that made me want to yell: I TOTALLY AGREE (I didn’t do that). She spoke about the “mountain” and that we learn to keep climbing the mountain even though we cannot see the light. WE KNOW from past experiences when it appeared there was no light, that if you keep going, the light will shine again.

We have each experienced moments when things have felt very dark, but that despite this darkness, we have found our way toward the light or past the crux. The knowing and past experience that things will change can help you get past the most difficult portion of the climb.

For me, the cruxes along the way become a part of the journey. You make the decision to look straight ahead and keep going because you know there is a light atop the mountain.

A Crux on a Mountain

A Crux on a Mountain

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The Beginning – 1.25.13

In a yoga class, there are many ways to get started. At our studio, the teacher usually relays some thoughts that give the students a theme or purpose to come back to throughout class. While I am only one weekend into the 200-hour teacher training, I thought it was appropriate to give my own thoughts about this beginning.

It started on Friday with Orientation. With the nerves and excitement clearly bubbling in the air, we were told to flip open our new binders to find our yoga travel companion and…it was ALI. It was ALI? IT WAS ALI! With confirmation that Ali and I were officially on this journey together, and once we had joined with our group and mentor (Jen Grims, who is awesome!), we were off and running.

As the weekend progressed, I felt humbled and reminded why I challenge myself and why I do not shirk away from a difficult situation. So far, we are being challenged by and immersed in massive amounts of information and physical poses. We are being asked to feel the poses, to remember the words, to rise above the fear, to sing loudly and even to speak the directions to the class. We are being asked to focus and listen and then do it again. It has been exhilarating, scary, bountiful in beauty, and it has only just begun.

The part about the beginning of class that makes me open my ears and listen more closely, is that I like to look for an idea to hold onto and ponder throughout my practice. I like to be aware of whether the meaning of the beginning words change throughout the class, or remain the same for me. One thing is for sure: I always feel different, mentally and physically, after laying in savasana (corpse pose), closing the practice with the sound of Om, and speaking the word, “Namaste.”

On Sunday, we began our session by learning the Gayatri Mantra. I had heard this mantra before, and felt a comfort wash over my body as we sang the Sanskrit words together. The Gayatri Mantra has many meanings, but the one we discussed and that has stuck with me was related to the sun rising. We were reminded that the sun will rise each morning; that is a given. This mantra was a reminder that the beginning will keep coming. The night may fall and the sun may set, but the sun will rise again tomorrow, allowing the start of a new beginning.

Gayatri Mantra

At this point, I can only imagine what the end of this illuminated journey will fee like; I can only imagine that perhaps it will feel less like an ending, but another beginning.

Sun Rising at Grand Canyon - April 2012

Sun Rising at Grand Canyon – April 2012

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Stepping Stones

As two women, two yoginis, we have been navigating a life that is filled to the brim with challenges. Are we successful enough? Are we fulfilling whatever role it is others expect us to fill? Are we living up to our full potential?

What if in 2013, and all years to come, we started living our lives for ourselves? What if we used the tools and the space we gained on the mat to help ourselves and to help others?

Ali and I went back to the fundamentals of yoga, by going back to level 1 and re-learning and re-visiting the basic poses, even though we have both been practicing for years. We enrolled in a self-inflicted yoga school on weekends. We committed to learning and experiencing the poses more deeply than we had ever experienced them before.

In 2012, we were each challenged to leave behind situations that were no longer serving us, and came together as best friends to support and encourage the other to move forward and heal. Stuck in the trenches it seemed impossible to begin to dig ourselves out.  How were we going to create the future we  had always dreamed about when there was still so much pain to let go of? Through yoga we started to find some of these answers.

Deep in the pose

Deep in the pose

People dream about having these so called “AH HA” moments, where things just make sense. As a result of our practice, we have become so aware and fearlessly awake, that every day the possibility of having one of these moments is within reach. We are remembering what it means to be totally in the moment, without worrying about the past, the future, the unknown. To be in the present is to harness the notion that truth and happiness are one.

With our new, awakened presence we begin our next journey. This time, it is a journey to become certified yoga teachers and to continue to spread the positivity that we have always cultivated, as friends.

There will always be mountains to climb, cruxes to reach, and loose rocks that cause you to lose your footing. There will always be really cloudy days that feel endless and moments that feel impossible: but the light at the top of the mountain is so bright it carries you along, and the tangible accomplishments along the way, like finally balancing in a headstand in the middle of the room, make the loose rocks appear as mere stepping stones.

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Welcome to the Tuniverse

Beth and I met as Account Managers, at a small digital agency called Special Ops Media. Special “Oops”, as we fondly called it, was chock full of young, creative, and goofy characters. A couple of times a week, we’d get pulled into the conference room for a brainstorming session. One person would describe the project they were pitching and then we would all spend the next thirty minutes, or so, tossing out fun ways to promote that project online.

One of the projects that we brainstormed was called the “Tuniverse,” some kind of digital music platform, where a user could access his or her music collection from any device – probably an early version of the cloud. I don’t remember what ideas came out of that brainstorm, but for whatever reason the word “Tuniverse” stuck with Beth and I, and we began using it as a funny way of talking about our lives and the fabric that connected them. From that moment on, the Tuniverse, or Tuni, for short, took on a life of its own.

At that point, neither of us was deeply connected to our spirituality, but we did begin to align ourselves with the idea that the Tuni had a mind of its own, and that it would help everything fall into place the way it was supposed to. That was our version of spirituality and faith – playfully believing that everything happens for a reason, and that every little moment, every event, every twist and turn – good or bad – was a means of getting us on to the right path; the path to our destiny.

Marking the path on a hike through the red rocks of Sedona.

Marking the path on a hike through the red rocks of Sedona.

2012 was a difficult year for both Beth and I in a hundred ways. From dealing with issues around illness and death, to heartbreak, to profound existential doubt, it was a year that at times we did not think we would survive. Yet, in these moments of darkness, of loss, of heartache, of pain, and sometimes lack of faith that the Tuni actually had our backs, we were also being propelled forward. This propulsion forward forced us to leave parts of ourselves behind, and was often characterized by mourning, tears, and seemingly unbearable emotion.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the Tuni actually has a plan. Sometimes I call Beth and I tell her that I demand to speak to a supervisor; that someone MUST have made a mistake. But as we stand on the threshold of this Illuminated Journey, of healing, learning, and expansion, I know that everything that came before it was absolutely necessary.

I still well up when I think about everything that happened in 2012, and I still have moments when I wish I could have done things differently or had the power to Eternal Sunshine certain events; nonetheless, I have arrived at a moment where I am ready to be grateful for the past – it brought me here.