I wrote the post ‘A Polar Bear in the Jungle’ a long time ago and thought i had published it, but there it was in my drafts! Huh? I taught the workshop that prompted that post and was looking for it because i had the same feedback after teaching that workshop as i did with a class last night – which prompted today’s post. Since writing about the jungle over a year ago, i’ve gone down even more movement, breath and trauma-based trainings, and the post i was writing today (keep reading 😉 is simply a continuation of what’s always been. So, without further ado, here’s that original post from June, 2021:
A Polar Bear in the Jungle
This week at work I commented that I love when something is so obvious(!) In a workshop along time ago, Judith Lasater said: “everything is subtle until it’s obvious” Life’s like that and sometimes the journey takes awhile, but then you turn a corner and … Bam! Obvious happens.
I’ve been on this yoga path for a long time. Long enough to have gone deep and come up gasping. Tread the calm and survive the turmoil. I’ve struggled in one way or another for most of the journey. Questioned. Tested. Volunteered. Worked. Went. Took. Taught. Assessed. Passed. Advanced. And trained. Through it all, I did what was required. What was expected. What so many before and after me had done, succeeded and thrived at. I dove in and tried my best. Truly. At times I loved it – especially the connection with some of the folks and experiences that only true immersion into something can offer.
I knew something wasn’t working for me. Earlier this year another obvious thing was pointed out to me: when your inner world doesn’t jive with your outer world, things come out sideways. My yoga life was like this for me – had been for a long time. The lack of jive for me was real.
I’ve been alluding that the ‘problem’ was the outer world. I’d been trying to articulate it, but couldn’t, because I knew that it wasn’t quite right. So when this story wound around the corner as it always does for me – everything became clearly…obvious.
In anticipation of a workshop that I’m teaching in the hometown of the yoga community i grew up in I’ve been considering the delivery of what I now have to offer. Mostly because of experience (life and training) outside of my yoga lineage, my teaching has evolved since the days when I attended workshops, taught classes, and trained and assessed teachers in that community. When I go back, it is important to me that I stay true to myself and be able to honour the deep roots of that community and all that it offered me, but my inner world of now was not jiving with my outer world of then and I knew my delivery was going to suffer until I could reconcile myself in some way. As I was vacuuming this morning, this is the story that wound its way into my periphery.
I have, for the most part, been a polar bear in the jungle. Somehow (that’s a therapy session or 2;) my iceberg drifted far from its home and I ended up in the jungle. A beautiful, colourful, lively environment where everything seemed to thrive. As i landed in the jungle, it’s not like I was a fish trying to set up shop in a tree – I had the ability to walk on land, eat what it offered, make my way to the water, appreciate all the Others who made their home and thrived there. It was a viable possibility that I could make a life in that jungle. Except I was too hot to move, hated being a vegetarian, couldn’t hunt because i stuck out, and no matter how much I tried to fit in and learn the language, I often felt alone in the jungle. Because of that, I started to blame the jungle for my situation. But – here’s the obvious part in case I have to point it out… the jungle can’t help being a jungle any more than I can help being a polar bear. It’s never been the jungle’s fault that it’s a jungle, or that I ended up in it. It’s not my fault that I’m not a scarlet macaw that can take flight. We both did our best to make it work and there were enough times of solace and joy to keep trying – but the jive was never really in sync for me. Sometimes (often?) it’s the friction that has the best lessons. And this lesson took me 20+ years to learn: The beautiful jungle will carry on – thrive, grow and evolve as it has. There’s no need to resent the jungle or the macaw that lives there. Or myself for being a polar bear.
I feel lighter and more clear than I ever have, because when I realized the friction I’ve been feeling was of my own making (sorry jungle) it simply dissolved. I’ve been trying to blame something fundamentally beautiful (me/the system) for how I feel. The time it took to get me to the obvious moment, makes the softening that much sweeter.
For the 1st time in a long time I really want to teach and as I root to myself those who want to play with me on the currents of curiosity and possibilities are appearing.
Thank you Jungle, for everything, it’s truly has been great. The friction was clouding my appreciation of all you have to offer, but now I can say I’m so looking forward to the visit! See you soon! 😘
A lot has happened in the year since i wrote that post. In addition to what i’ve explored in a yoga context, the recent circumstances of my life have been full of rich opportunities in which to practice the yoga of pivoting and adapting to weather storms of uncertainty. Because of all of that i’ve evolved, as has my practice, so how can what i offer not be Different?
The following is the post that i was writing today when i went searching for the polar bear. I’m so very grateful for this place that i’m at now, where curiosity trumps the need to be ‘right’….
I taught a Senior Teachers Showcase class for the Yoga Association of Alberta (YAA) last night. It’s a great series for a super organization that’s supported yoga and the training of teachers in Alberta for many years. One of the things i like about the organization is that it maintains high standards that are inclusive rather than requiring a high buy-in that creates exclusivity. (Which can be the case for traditional schools that recognize and hold validity within only the structure of their institutions.) The inclusive nature of the YAA exposes its members to many different forms and expressions of yoga so that each person can determine what fits them best, which is something i very much appreciate.
Even at that i still received comments after class, as i did with that workshop so long ago, saying that what i offer is ‘different’ (i get that a lot and i like it ;). Although it may look and feel ‘different’, it can be nothing other than yoga because pretty much that’s the only lens i live my life through, move through, observe through, play in, create in… So, when i ended class with the following poem I felt very much like i was (am) speaking to the beauty of where i see yoga heading today and the direction i want to go.
The Place Where We Are Right
by Yehuda Amichai
From the place where we are right Flowers will never grow In the spring.
The place where we are right Is hard and trampled Like a yard.
But doubts and loves Dig up the world Like a mole, a plow. And a whisper will be heard in the place Where the ruined House once stood.
I have both doubts and big love for all things yoga (i think both are equally important). They’ve kept me coming back to the mat in a way that has dug up my world while at the same time creating a safe place for me to be ‘homeless’. I am so very glad to be hearing the whispers and following them to a ‘different’ way of being that thrives on curiosity, exploration, acceptance and patience. A way of being that values mistakes, wobbles, detours, and questions without answers. It’s the safest place for my nervous system to deal with whatever life (or the mat) brings. And that, my friends, brings me great joy – even in the tough times. As a dear teacher said to me not long ago: “Isn’t that what it’s all about?”
If you need a better handstand, i’m probably not your girl.
If you’re looking to pass your next assessment, don’t call me.
If you want to play in a space that makes room for a beautiful mess and a softness that says, “hey, nervous-system, you can stand down for the next little bit”, reach out. If i’m not the one that jives with you, maybe i can recommend someone who does.