My daughter's teacher once said, "My role is not only to guide your child, but also to carefully place obstacles so that she may overcome them."
This thought has stuck with me for years, literally, and it is one I come back to time and again. For my self, but also for my children.
6 months ago I left my husband. I moved out. We have two children.
Divorce is not easy, in fact I could say it is downright hell. However, it is not something that we all, as a family now apart, cannot overcome. And in the process of doing so, we will be stronger.
I have watched this play out in my daughter over the past 6 months. She has always been a sensitive child with an internal strength, yet also easily overwhelmed and likely to give up when faced with a difficult challenge.
Recently though, I have seen her stepping up to challenges, taking control of a situation where she would have usually turned to me, becoming more independent.
This development, some would say, is sad - the loss of innocence, the growing up before we're ready. Yet, I am not abandoning her. I am still her mother, here to guide, to nurture, and yes, to place obstacles.
She is almost 10. I see a resilience in her that I knew was there, but I had not seen shine as it does in recent weeks.
Yes, she still becomes overwhelmed. Yes, she still is easily frustrated. And yes, she is still quite angry. But this too she will overcome. With some gentle guidance, and some careful placement.
In my life and in my practice I have been learning to slow things down, to be patient, to allow my strength to grow from within the pose - within the situation - within the relationship - and from there to move forward with the practice - with life - with love.
It has been an interesting progression for me, one for whom flexibility has always seemed to come easily, yet as I entered my 5th decade (yes, 5th! I'm 40) on this planet in 2014, has come to hurt my body.
In my young(er) life, I was a free spirit, go with the flow, vinyasa till your head falls off type of yogi.
In recent years, I have become more and more fond of the slow flow, the alignment-based, the do-this-so-you-can-do-that-better style of practice and of teaching.
Interestingly, in my life, I have also taken a stronger stand, I have aligned more solidly with ME, I have taken some scary steps forward. I live the do-this-so-you-can-do-that-better lifestyle. Step by step.
Who knows if there is a connection between my strength in my physical body and my strength in my life. Yet, as I have explained to many a friend and fellow yogi, I was before a dancer. I am still that artist. Just as dance is a physical expression of a thought, feeling, story, my yoga is my physical expression of the same.
As with all things, what I experience in my life is a story told through my teaching. Through the postures, the sequence, and through the themes I bring to those postures and sequence.
When we move slowly, we engage more, we build strength. We are able to cultivate a deeper awareness of our body, which translates to the deeper layers (the Koshas) of our being. And, in the space that we create between the poses, we give ourselves time to experience the pose, to allow the pose to work on us, and to learn more clearly and more fully about who our true self is.
Kristen is the creator of Indieflow Yoga and Yoga For A Cause. She lives and teaches in Denver, Colorado