Marie Belle Perez has been a part of the KiraGrace family for two years now and we are as in awe of her today as we were when we first met her.
As a KiraGrace Warrior, Marie Belle has inspired us with the dedication, presence and mindfulness she brings to her yoga practice and to her life. She is incredibly accomplished both on and off the mat. Marie Belle is an Ashtanga Yoga teacher and certified Rocket Yoga Teacher in Washington DC, Virginia, and Puerto Rico. She is also a distinguished Psychology Professor at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C..
With her extensive training as a Psychologist in Social Emotional Development and Women’s Studies, her classes utilize a keen awareness of the intellectual and emotional body to empower those who practice consistently, for a long period of time, with devotion.
Marie Belle’s classes encourage students to grow into their inner consciousness to facilitate ease of movement, steadiness of breath, and balanced growth on and off the mat. Students can expect to be challenged physically while learning about life- affirming, tantric philosophies that support emotional healing.
We asked Marie Belle to share some of her wisdom with us in our first guest blog post:
Growing Through Yoga
Yoga is the practice of coming to terms with yourself; learning to love yourself even when you’re not at your best; learning that you have exactly what you need - nothing more, nothing less. How does this work exactly? Well, when you take a look at it, this practice facilitates growth in a three step process - support, realization and transformation (story of life).
When standing alone on your mat, with no external distractions, there is no place to hide from yourself, there is no one to run to but yourself. This is good. When you mindfully put yourself in a challenging situation day in and day out, you learn to summon as much steadiness, composure, and grace as you can on a daily basis. This is a powerful tool to constantly sharpen and train for life off the mat.
The first step in the evolution process is becoming the support you need to start trusting yourself; trusting yourself to remember, to open, to learn, to feel, to strengthen, to be vulnerable, to be enough. When we take time to be alone, to be quiet, to breathe, there’s a good possibility that we will know ourselves better. By placing ourselves in direct contact with profound silence on a regular basis, we develop an intimate dialogue within that allows us gradually to appreciate and trust the rich diversity of who we are and reclaim our compartmentalized identities and memories. When you develop deep confidence in the self, the ideal conditions for the second step of this expansive process are ripened. Being in solitude provides the fertile ground from which insight and wisdom develop.
The second step of the process evolves as a relentless practice of being honest with yourself in order to see more clearly. Something that has been happening to me during asana practice is that I recall, quite spontaneously, actions, conversations, insecurities, and memories I regret. When I first started experiencing these personal moral confrontations, I felt demoralized, guilty, ashamed, angry, sad, and anxious of how often I have hurt another, or not followed through, or not been fully present nor receptive; how quickly I gave an opinion when, maybe, an opinion wasn't necessary. Fortunately, I have been reassured that these unexpected moral inventories are direct consequences of unillusioned confrontation, a soul wakening up, a heart being purified, a reconnection to my source, or a mind settling down.
Another way of seeing these experiences is that yoga practice creates a spacious container to process, digest, feed, and reprocess habitual tendencies. Just watch your stories unfold. When seen in this light, there is less room for guilt and more possibility for empowerment. Why? Because this practice of physically moving through feelings, experiences, memories, ideas, and conversations continues to provide tangible evidence of my unconscious programming. These insights are revealed not to belittle the self, rather to shed light on areas where I am capable of making more conscious, aligned, and fully integrated decisions. With each inhalation, I invite insight into my system, with each exhalation I relax about the fact that I am not able to make amends immediately. These confrontations and my increasing desire to lead a more transparent, loving, and graceful life are my proof that this practice works.
These realizations by themselves won’t change your life. Life will continue to be as raw and unpredictable as ever. What these insights offer is a setting of the course for the heart to expand in its willingness to accept life as it is and for transformation to occur. With depth of understanding, the heart learns to be more compassionate and therefore, accommodating. Cultivating a willing, accommodating heart is ultimate freedom. The practice becomes less of a physical pursuit and more of a stepping into your power, a soothing of the soul. When you acknowledge and work with this power, and your primary contact is with the essence of your being on a daily basis, you overflow with a quiet knowing, a sense of well being; you embody a depth of presence and focus that is less and less distracted; you reside in your highest potential. You stop trying to solve all the mysteries and instead humbly surrender within them by invoking grace, stamina, and clarity. This is transformation at its finest.
You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.~ John C. Maxwell
This blog was written for KiraGrace by KiraGrace Warrior, Marie Belle!