There is a quote that sums up my experience heretofore with yoga better than anything else I’ve ever read. I don’t know from whom or where the quote came, or I would totally give the person mega props and a huge, bear-like, electronic hug. The quote goes a little something like this:
“My yoga practice is no longer the battlefield of a long-waged self-improvement project by an overachieving person. It has become what I always hoped it would be — a place for love and acceptance.”
I think this quote embraces the yoga journey for many of us, because let’s be real here: How many of us started yoga because we wanted a thinner waist and perky yoga butt? How many of us, in the beginning, saw yoga as something we would conquer rather than embrace? How many of us saw someone in Crow Pose and said to ourselves, “I can do that shit.”
Over time, however, as we dove deeper into our practice — no doubt bumbling, grunting and falling along the way — our hardened layers begin to peel away, and we were left with the lingering feeling that yoga is something more than a way for us to gain strength, flexibility and balance. As we emerged from Savasana, time and time again, we began to realize that something else — something besides exercise — is going on here.
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”~Lao Tzu
Although all mothers know this, no one can truly warn you before it happens: Your body is never the same after you have a baby as it was before you got pregnant.
Sure, we see images of movie stars who bounce back from having babies more toned and fit than they were before pregnancy, but the reality for most women is much less seamless. Having a baby affects you inside and out: You stretch and move differently, and your anatomy changes — permanently — from that growing being inside your body. That pair of skinny jeans, your high school dress and your once stretch-mark-free body often become just a distant memory. This change can make women feel imperfect or less attractive than they remember themselves to be.
When I walked into the room for my first “official yoga class” (read: not with a DVD at home, which had been my practice for years) I felt weak. I was mom to a two-year-old and a four-year-old and I was out of shape. My stomach was flabby from cesarean sections, my leg muscles shaky and my self-image less than ideal. Feeling neither powerful nor like a rock star, I just hoped that yoga would help me get back the body I once had.
It wasn’t until the day that I held Plank Pose in yoga class that I finally got it: I still had an amazing body.
When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” ~Author Unknown
Hope is having positivity, belief and faith — in yourself. Hope is perseverance, because it doesn’t give up. With a little practice, you can make hope a habit. Not only will you improve your health and fitness, but you also will improve your life.
Over the years of working with refugees from Burma, I have often wondered what their most important possession is. We have even made lists of the things that they bring with them as they flee the attacks of soldiers: a machete, cooking pot, tarp, lighter, rice and salt. All those things are essential for survival in the jungle. The same with medicine and warm blankets. These are possessions that give life.
As Spiritual Cinema Circle enters its ninth year, we have distributed more than 400 films, and the one element that they all have in common is a sense of hope. In the world of Spiritual Cinema, hope infuses every film that we have grown to love … and every film that we distribute.
Yes, it may get dark out there at times.
Yes, there are times when we indeed stare into the abyss, both personally and as a society.
And yes, we have all lived through the challenges, pains and fears of dark nights of the soul.
But, when the dawn comes, hope is always born anew.
Hope is the lifeblood that flows through the veins of every human being. It is sometimes muted. Sometimes so faint that only our hearts feel its echo. And sometimes we wonder how we can keep it alive.
But hope lives on. Always has. Always will.
Here are just a few examples of the hope that permeates film:
Sometimes I sit. I sit through the storm and I shake and I wonder if the
Winds will blow me away. I wonder if I can endure the violence, the rage,
The anger. I forget what it was like to feel safe and be at peace, to live in
Hope is one of those phenomenal insights of the emotional body that can appear in any shape and any context. Hope is cherishing the expectation of fulfillment in any part of your life. Hope is found in loved ones — your sister, brother, mother, father. Hope is the water that fills the well, the lighthouse that calls ships home. Hope is the food on your table and the gas in your car. Hope is as specific or as ambiguous as you need it to be. Where there is nothing, let there be Hope. Where there is something, let there be Hope. You can never have enough and there will never be a lack.
With the recent passing of the equinox and the shifting from one season to the next, Hope has taken up residence around each corner of Spring’s beautiful awakening.
We hope you’re enjoying our month-long Gaiam Hope Project as much as we are! The articles, videos, blog posts and reader stories so far have been truly inspiring, and we’re thrilled to be able to share them with you. But we also think you shouldn’t have to wait for us to post to get your daily dose of hope. That’s why we’ve created hope-themed wallpapers for your computer, iPhone, iPad and Facebook Timeline.
“Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.” ~George Iles
When you run a yoga studio, you hear it all. From the annoyingly trivial (“So and so was in my spot!”) to the enormously overwhelming (“I’ve been diagnosed with cancer.”). Some of the stories I’ve heard over the years are so powerful and transcendent, they’ve reached into my life and left an indelible imprint of hope. This is one of those stories:
Her limbs twisted by muscular dystrophy, she wandered in and unrolled her yoga mat. I was concerned — mine is a rigorous class, and I wanted to protect her without making a spectacle. It’s a line every teacher walks with any new student, but her circumstances had me feeling more conflicted about how hands on or off I should be than usual.