Yoga Gangsters

‘How you do one thing, is how you do everything’ is a quote I’ve heard before but never really gave much thought to until it was presented to me this weekend. I had the pleasure of spending time with 15 other generous and brave souls as we all trained to become Yoga Gangster teachers.  Yoga Gangsters is a not-for-profit program that brings yoga programs to at-risk youth. We interviewed the founder, Terri Cooper, on Episode 1 of ‘Planted in Miami’ (listen here).  Terri’s story of resilience and perseverance has inspired me on so many levels, that I just knew I wanted to help her give back to the community through her organization.

On our second day, our homework was to go home and reflect on the statement, ‘How you do one thing, is how you do everything’ and journal about how we show up in challenging situations.  For me personally, whenever I’m challenged, I rise to it. I’m definitely Type A and think that through hard work and sweat, I can push through anything. I’ve had this independence and strength from an early age.  I rarely allow help from other people because I have the confidence in myself to get the job done.  How it shows up in my yoga practice is that whenever I’m challenged to hold a certain pose for longer than expected, I connect and stay in it way past the time that my body tells me to get out of it. Not the best approach…

What occurred to me during the training once everyone was sharing their journal entries and insights was that with this confidence in my strength comes a lack of flexibility.  Because I think I can handle just about anything thrown my way, I rarely ask for help.  My mom loves to tell a story that when I was just 2 years old, we had an old television set that would always break.  I would waddle over to it and say “I fix, I fix.”  Even at that young age, I refused to allow others, like a trained electrician, to do the job.  The way this shows up  in my yoga mat is that there are certain poses, like downward dog, where I can’t get my heels down on the mat because of my lack of flexibility.  As much as I press down and  will for them to connect with my mat it doesn’t happen.  Coincidence? I don’t think so. 

What does this have to do with becoming a certified Yoga Gangster teacher? EVERYTHING. We were taught that our issues will show up in service.  Traumas we’ve experienced will surface and we have to be prepared to handle them. Use the ‘mess to be your message’ is the one quote I repeated to myself over and over again. We have all experienced some level of trauma in our lives. Whether it be from getting bullied at school or experiencing poverty or having expectations put on us that were impossible to achieve.  Just because I may not have ever been in the situation of one of my youth students doesn’t mean that we don’t have a common reaction or habit formed from experiencing trauma. 

I firmly believe that everyone should be required to take this training. Even if you never teach one class.  What I learned about myself and how there are growth opportunities in my life is invaluable. The Yoga Gangster philosophy of no judgement, no shame, and no blame really helped me strip layers of my soul and take stock of my experiences.  Yoga for the win every. single. time. I invite you to ask yourself the same question, ‘how do you show up in a challenging situation.’ Maybe grab a pen and pencil or type out your thoughts. See how this relates in your life and in your yoga practice.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Connect with Yoga Gangsters  Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter