When Linda Makowski, (owner of Namaste), asked me to write a blog about my journey through yoga and how it eventually led me to YogiStoned, I thought it would be easy. And it was. That’s the kind of stuff I’ve learned through my yoga practice. And meditation. If you believe a certain thing about your self, a situation, a way of being, an experience, good or bad, it tends to be true. And so I continue to learn.
Here’s my “story”. About a year ago, I taught a yoga practice that became the inspiration behind many new adventures to follow. (In fact, I think it was a class I taught a year ago today as I write—of course). Anyway, the class I planned embraced the energetic vibration qualities of the first sound ever made by the earth when it was created. No biggie. The Sanskrit word is Om (pronounced aum). We didn’t just open our practice with the traditional 3 Oms at the beginning of practice. Or simply end with a single Om. Nope. We did a 3 detoxifying twists, adding 3 Oms through each twist (one aloud, one quietly to yourself, and one silent). At the end of class, I smiled at one of my student’s who was looking very relaxed, peaceful and happy. I asked her how she was feeling.
“Om-stoned”, was Candice’s blissful reply.
Thanks to yoga, and teaching, and meeting new and awesome friends like Candice, and Beth James, who entrusted me to Get My Gypsy on and design her festival swag for Barefoot&Free, I'm now the designer and creative heart behind YogiStoned.
But I should probably go back further than that. I have spent nearly thirty years in advertising as a writer and creative director, helping brands find their voice. I even helped our beloved Namaste rebrand by helping the owner give voice to her vision. I am grateful for my work—it's my play and passion. I get to create in different brand languages (words, pictures, music, metaphors, stories) and share ideas with thousands of people and help products and services be seen and heard. But creative work (versus play) can take a toll on the spirit and on the ego. It can become easy to lose sight of what is really valuable, like the connection we have with our self and the nature in which we move and create our life.
If you don’t practice yoga (yet), you may not connect with the feeling of being rooted yet open and expansive in Vrkasana (Tree Pose). But if you’ve ever gone for a run and suddenly felt like you could run forever, or experienced a storm and a sunbeam suddenly breaks through, or you’ve played an instrument so entirely that the music and you became one—then you know. If you’ve ever offered your help and support to another without desiring a single thing in return and realized the value was immeasurable—this is you—the real you—flowing with a life that knows no limits, no fear, no doubts. Flow, baby, flow. But of course, it all eventually comes to a crashing halt when the cramp in your leg starts, the thought in your head speaks up, the ache in your heart closes up and you return to the familiar doubts, fears, insecurities and past pain. But I’ve learned this is life too. You can flow even in the mud.
If only I’d known this sooner. Through my practice of yoga I’ve learned that I am separate from my thoughts. I am not my emotions. (Phew.) I am not my ego, fear, or pain. (Luckily, yoga also teaches us to let go of regrets by seeing them as opportunities to grow.) Through yoga I learned how to pause, to breathe, to listen for a more loving place to speak from rather than communicate through fears.
But this isn’t even the crazy thing. The crazy thing is that my yoga practice is what made me aware of all of this stuff in the first place. That all of it, that my ego, fears, doubts and insecurities had begun to steer my life. I realized my job had become work. Friends had become associates. Family had become roadblocks. I had un-friended myself. I had forgotten how to speak from a place of gratitude versus lack, or how giving to others is the key to true happiness—which is everything. (It’s hard to see that when you’re having pity parties).
It’s important to note that we each begin losing touch with our truest self, from the moment we are born. Absent parents, demanding teachers, unfaithful friends, religious guilt, cultural indifferences, (fill in the issue _________) ... it’s no wonder we run from our true self. These are not excuses however, like a free pass to use your anger, pain, fear, self-doubt on anyone, for anything. Good or horrible experiences, all of it, these are chances, opportunities to find yourself again. As the Sufi poet Rumi wrote to remind us, “Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor”. Because it is. You only need to believe it.
Thanks to yoga, and a meditation practice, I began to see me again. I've learned more about who I truly am by listening to the silence between breaths then I ever have talking or thinking it out. I also became a Yoga Teacher. Some of you reading this now practice with me at 6am, and believe me when I say, you are why I get up at 5am. I have spent the last 10 years seeking ways to return to my truest self. I still get lost and disappear, but the path back has become shorter, more effortless. I love hanging out with me. I have some seriously incredible family and friends in my life, but I am definitely my best friend. (Believe that the journey back to you is well worth taking). Thank you to my dearest friends who are accompanying me. I love you. Your bravery has helped me be brave.
If you’re still reading this, I encourage you, as I think all my fellow yogis do here at Namaste and everywhere else, to keep welcoming yourself back, and again. No matter how long you go without speaking. Like a long lost friend you spot across the crowd, run to you, wrap your arms around you and say hello! I’ve missed you! Like I said, I still get lost. I still say the wrong thing. I still hurt. But I know I know differently now. I live differently now. I can take steps to make amends. We all can.
My hope for YogiStoned? I hope you experience our yoga-inspired-clothing as something deeper than just what you wear on the outside. My intention is to create more than a super soft long sleeve t-shirt or comfy slouchy tee with words of wisdom designed with kickass fonts and graphics. It’s more than a reminder that your 3rd Chakra is the Soular Power packed awakening you need to move forward, even if you’re scared. It’s a chance for all of us, in our own way, to show the way, to go beyond the words, sink past the fibers, melt through the skin, ease into the muscles, break past the bones, and tap into a place much deeper. Can a comfy, slouchy t-shirt remind you that there is everything Cosmic Love about you? Yep. If you believe, it must be true.
My light digs your light – because I dig my own.