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Living Your Practice
by Warrior Ambassador Laura Ahrens
Living by example is the most important form of teaching we can do. The magnitude and the density of the profound teachings of yoga can rock our worlds and change our perspectives. The mystical, magical ways the sacred texts and teachings can make our lungs and hearts feel magnified, our third eye blink sleepily open from hibernation, and our brain come back into our body is sacred. We want to share. But we have to first do our work. It’s that simple and it’s that difficult; the practice is not only about the outcome of that beautiful homecoming to the body and the breath, but of the hero’s journey within through dense and dark forests with hidden bands of thieves, fire breathing dragons threatening to leave their caves, and the necessity of looking at ourselves starkly. And of course the last part is the scariest part of all.
Spiritual life is scary. It’s fraught with truths and shifts, which inherently usher in letting go and loss. In the journey into the deep woods of self-knowledge and svadyaya, breath illuminates, willingness is our wand, softness is our sword. Those tools are invaluable and are also hard earned. In the dark, discomfort arises. We must sit with that shrouded, shadowy unknown until our breath brightens it so we can see. Seeing is the first step, and in seeing there must be willingness to look.
Once we see what’s there, dissolving resistance, insistence, manipulation, justification, and ignorance, we must then be willing to do something different than those deeply etched patterns. We develop new ways only by replacing what was old through repetition, practice, and patience.
In a world where convenience is king, quickness is queen, and disposability gives way to boredom, inconsistency, and impatience, we can easily be swept up by the superficial beauty of yoga with all its promises for a better life. We can learn the ideology, philosophy and mythology word for word in Sanskrit, and perfectly execute the alignment within our form upside down on our hands. We can meditate like monks. We can read about the dankness of the dragon’s lair, or about the sharpness of seeing ourselves for the first time in hopes that knowledge can save us from the experience. But ultimately, our commitment to practice, to process, to going through it, to trudging through the muck, to putting one foot in front of the other, to crying on pages of our journals, to kneeling at the feet of our greatest teachers, to wondering about the nature of our own habits and being willing to do something differently, to naming those to whom we don’t give love freely and forgiving them, to forgiving ourselves. Therein lies the practice. And the only way out is through.
It doesn’t matter how much you read. It doesn’t matter how much you teach, or what you teach, unless the philosophy has roots in the rich and fertile dirt of experience. Do the work. And let your life be your example.
Suggestions for living your practice:
1. Be honest in your words and actions. What you do and say is an opportunity to align with your deepest truth, and to continue to align with and define what that is.
2. Release judgment. Open yourself to the teachings of others, especially if they question your perceptions and beliefs. still practice discernment, but stay open to other ways, other people, other truths, even if they contradict what you already know. all of them may still be simultaneously true.
3. See yourself. Our biases and lenses may have been inherited or learned. Be willing to see and study yourself. start to become conscious of what is automatic so you can live intentionally in the world. Take full responsibility for yourself. Learn to let go of blame and shame by focusing within.
Laura reluctantly tried yoga in 2009, and received a 200 hour certification in vinyasa in 2011. Shortly after, she was captivated by the deeply connected and core-centric practice of Forrest Yoga and completed the Foundation and Advanced Teacher Trainings with creator Ana Forrest and year-long mentorship with Dr. Heidi Sormaz. Laura holds a BFA from The University of the Arts.
Laura works with attention to an individual's physical and emotional starting point to empower ownership of one's practice. Passionate about connection, her teaching is fueled by depth of breath, strong connection to core, precision of alignment, and commitment to the internal and somatic work necessary for personal evolution.
She is currently studying the Budokon system of yogic and martial arts under creator Cameron Shayne, and is inspired by its fluid and intentional transitions and warrior-like, functional movement. She is also influenced by the deeply Iyengar inspired teachers who have formed the foundation of yoga in Boston, and the creative and intelligently sequenced New York based Kula style of vinyasa flow.