On Tuesday, I started Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). Right beforehand (I mean why not start off sweaty, right!?), I went to one of the classes led by the instructor of the program. I love yoga, and most classes I leave renewed in spirit and/or sparked in insight. But this class went beyond that…
She started by shouting out all the yogis embarking on the YTT program; it went something like this:
Today I’d like to honor and recognize those taking on the challenge of our YTT program. These people are demonstrating so much strength, so much courage to dive so deeply into self-study and rigorous yoga. They truly are embracing their inner warriors.
Their inner warriors. Love. Well, for the next 55 minutes or so, she proceeded to kick my inner warrior’s ass. But always, she kept coming back to our inner warrior, courage, and strength in stillness. And then, after sweet Shavasana, we sat seated with our hands embracing our heart center, and she said:
Bow to your inner warrior.
And in that moment, I realized exactly who I was bowing to, who my inner warrior is… my Mom.
As my Mom neared the end of her life, very rarely did a day go by without her offering these last words of advice to me:
Mary, stay strong. Be strong.
And of course, she of all people had every right to tell me this. She, the strong woman, who with a fierce grip could open up stubborn jars and shy hearts. She, the strong woman, who scrambled over an electric fence to escape a charging bull in her home hills of West Virginia. She, the strong woman, who drove a semi across several states for a bushel of nuts, without any training or experience. She, the strong woman, who took a hammer to a man that threatened to abuse her or her first daughter. She, the strong woman, who fought colds and cancer with as little medicine as possible. She, the strong woman, who stayed faithful to a man who could not even remember who she was or the life they built together.
I have come into my own strength these last two years. Mom always used to tell me to speak my mind and not let people run over me. I do that now… at least more of it. I am finding myself truer to who I am without the need to please others. That’s my Mom, for sure. I am finding the strength to pursue leadership opportunities, to change the system for the better instead of just complaining about it. That’s something my Mom would be proud of. And yes, even the risk in pursuing self-study, rigorous yoga, and the hopes of teaching yoga someday. That too, came from my Mom.
So, in the end, I do bow to my inner warrior. I bow to you Mom, with gratitude and love and deep, heartbroken-aching for you. Thank you for your strength, in me.