How lucky I am to teach yoga and be surrounded by all these amazing teachers and heartfelt students. Sometimes yoga teachers refer to students as ‘my students’. But this is not true for me. They do not belong to me and they are more like teachers to me than students. These are people I respectfully share a common space with – a satsang, a group of truthseekers, people curious about their practice on the mat and their practice off the mat, people interested in this journey as a human being. I am honored to be in their circle of life and light; I humbly bow to each one, as I would bow to my guru, my inner light.
There are two people that have influenced me greatly over the years: Jenny Hayo (deepest gratitude to Jenny and her authentic yogic wisdom that has guided me so tremendously for over a decade) and Meghan Desmul. Meghan personifies a light that always shines so bright on the important things in life. Her cycle classes literately kept me sane through the pandemic and especially during the divorce, and subsequent unthreading of life as I had known it. She may not have realized her power – or maybe she did and continued to be her same bubbly, stunningly candid, genuine, unpretentious and lovely Self. Her words always inspired me and invited me to look deeper. Did I mention this was all through an online cycle class??? Yup, but that is the power of some people. They shine magnificent radiance and brilliance no matter in person or through a camera lens. Meghan reminded me over and over again about one of my favorite, maybe my actual favorite, yoga pieces of philosophy, my numero uno: Pratipaksha Bhavana – cultivating that which you want to embody. This may mean envisioning the opposite of what you had thought previously: Instead of self-doubt, take on courageous confidence; instead of worry, take on calm.
Meghan encouraged us: ‘don’t think small’ and ‘bring what you want and deserve’ and ‘yes, you can’! There were so many times I was headed down that dark tamasic (inert, depressed, stuck) path, or the rajasic (frenzied, anxious) upheaval, that I needed something more to sustain me. Pratipaksha Bhavana (PH) can mean becoming, being that which you want, shining bright for yourself, not because you have to, but because it is within you. This is not a ‘fake it till you make it’ necessarily. PH is not just the intention (sankalpa) but it is that which propels the intention. It is saying ‘I am better than this. I will not be brought down by that. I am this radiant light, a good human, that deserves to grow tall in my roots.’ Now how might one do this, you ask? Well, I can wallow in tamasic land. Or, I can Rise Up, and get on that bike, take a walk outdoors, enjoy a sweet yoga nidra practice, get myself back in school, explore my future, and feed my self-care better.
There are moments for joy and self care. Don’t forget the sukkah in life – appreciate the joyful, soulful, sublime moments and dive into the sweetness and things that inspire you. There is good in the world, really truly deeply, KNOW, there are good and beautiful things ahead. And what the heck do you do when you feel overwhelming self doubt? You hum, you sing! (If you are not ready for singing, at least try Bee’s Breath – humming on the exhale repeating for at least a minute). Otherwise, turn on some good music and sing your heart out in the car, or in your home by yourself. Sing with others – karaoke if you want. It doesn’t matter. Sing, dance, celebrate in some way. For me, there are some key yogic chants and pop songs that are on my ‘go to’ fun list – ‘get out of my funk’ list. Why do this? Because it feels so darn wonderful after. And truly, we need to embody and experience delightful moments. When you feel peace or abiding delight, really feel it, so you can more easily touch back into it later: Pratipaksha Bhavana, the ultimate tool in the yoga toolbox.
I only dabble in fully understanding the doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha – check out Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga). However, I know enough to know that the reason certain habits work in my day are because they give me grounding. Me, being Vata/Pitta dual dosha, translates to feeling ungrounded and a bit fiery at times. Melina Meza has a wonderful connection in bringing the doshas to a calm and balanced, even enlightened, space within. One thing she speaks to is the necessity of Rituals – not just routines. Routines are a sequence of actions, but rituals are much more powerful. Rituals have purpose and meaning. They are proactive (versus reactive) and are ‘empowering routines’ giving us the much needed space (sacred space according to Melina Meza) for self care, well being and even growth. I know it is hard to see the ‘growth’ part in the midst of a decaying marriage but there is a lot to grow. You can start thinking about what your nitty gritty needs are and how you move toward a prosperous and enriching life.
So give yourself some rituals, some self care places that can anchor you in your day. Yes, literately, each day: give yourself a ball massage on the wall, a long soak in the bath, a mouth rinse in the morning, a neti and oil skin at night, a yoga nidra relaxation. Give yourself a restoring bedtime routine. I know it sounds cliché, but sleep is also numero uno! It is the place where stress can show up so whatever you can do an hour before bed that is off line, and be ‘in line’ with rest, unwinding, and calmness, then do it. Read a book, ignore life, and get some well deserved restful sleep. Your future self tomorrow, will thank you.
Pratipaksha Bhavana reminds us that instead of struggling and hurting, what would be on the other side? Because the struggle, although real and self consuming at times, is also not you. You are humorous, conscientious, honest, compassionate, considerate, aware, strong, capable, and so many other parts of you are valuable and integral. Spend more of your time and energy enjoying the freedom of being you and knowing that you don’t have to have old wounds reopened, or a heart broken, or boundaries shunned any longer. You now have the opportunity to be grateful and true to you, allowing joy to propel you on your path forward.

Rai Lowe