I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a podcast queen, but I have a few good ones on rotation. There’s something about hearing and not seeing for me that dials my focus all the way in.  In fact, I’ll probably pick up more if I’m listening to you without seeing you (the EXACT opposite of my husband) which is probably why a lot of the conversations I have are better on the phone than they are in person, but I digress.

So about a few weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast called “The Mindful Minute” led by Meryl Asooth titled “Why do you practice?”  First, let’s stop.  Girl, YES.  This podcast is just the right amount of big life talk mixed in with the realness of sitting still for 20 whole minutes.  Not going to lie, I have yet to stay still for the whole 20, but I keep showing up!

Anyway, getting back on track over here.

The big question was “why do you practice?”  In this case, yoga or meditation, but it got me thinking about the other aspects of my life as well.  What is my motivation?  Why do I continue to show up the way I do in some of my most important spaces?  

The answer for yoga and meditation came pretty much immediately.  Once I got all settled in—yoga mat in front of the loveseat, back down, legs 90 degrees up and over the couch cushions, eyes closed, deep breathing—it came right to me: relief.  

I meditate and practice yoga for relief.

The first time I really experienced this relief, and I mean REALLY experienced it, was during a restorative yoga class with Octavia Raheem in Atlanta, GA.  At the time, she was serving the city through various yoga studios and I was working three jobs while in my final year of college.  Oh, and I had broken up with the love of my life for a season while trying to ignore my fear of marriage.  Jess.  What. In. The.  Actual. Deuce?

I remember laying my head down on that bolster (it was one of those “grab two bolsters, three blankets, and two blocks types” of classes) and falling into the deepest soul rest of my life up to that point.  I don’t think I stopped crying the entire time.  That’s when I knew: this needs to be in my life forever.  

Now dance?  That one was harder.  It didn’t come to me during that meditation session or during the ballet class that I took that week.  It didn’t come during my silent sessions or during my reading and journaling times. Instead, I found it a week or so later when I had the opportunity to teach the CCB company class.  The male guest artist had taught and taken the class the day before, so the taking class while teaching thing happened naturally.  I was still nervous though.  It’s weird teaching for your peers, and I had decided to do a contemporary ballet class which is not something they get all the time, so you know… I was in my head.  

Anyway, the first few combinations were a little rocky, especially as I was emotionally a little blue at the start, but after some time I realized I was having a great time!  I was DANCING it.  For anyone who’s ever taken a dance class or been a-LIVE at the club when you’ve got your girl circle of protection and you just ARE Beyonce, you’ve got the general feeling.  I noticed that the longer I taught, the more joyful I became and the more I moved in a way that felt 100% WONDERful to my body.  The more I moved in that way the more joy spilled out of me, and guys?  I was smiling while dancing.  Like not-able-to-hold-it-back kind of sunny smilin’.

On the way home, my body was buzzing with light and energy.  Joy.  That’s when it came to me:  

I dance for joy.

You know?  Let me stop right here.  People who know me or who know anything about the professional dance scene are probably staring at the screen like, “Duh!  It’s dance.  That’s what it’s SUPPOSED to be about.” But let me tell you–after years of hating myself, of comparison, of hustlin’ and grindin’ on that professional track, of the whole “dance or die” mentality, this was HUGE for me!  It tuned me in to what I need to feel while I dance.  It highlighted what I need to protect for myself in the future.  It also showed me MY certain type of strength in the studio.  I was able to look at myself from the inside as well as from the outside in some small way and say, “Oh, THIS is what you bring!” because it wasn’t just this one class that made me joyful.  It was a series of flashbacks to me making up dance steps in my parent’s living room in fifth grade, of how I’ve felt when dancing my best, and of what people who love me and who have learned from me have to say about me.

It tuned me in to what I need to FEEL while I dance.  It highlighted what I need to PROTECT for myself in the future.  It also showed me my certain type of strength in the studio.

Even saying that last one is a big deal for me.  Y’all, I’ve trained myself to say as little about my strengths as possible in fear of sounding boastful.  I’ve trained myself to tone down and to fit in, but this one realization gave that all back.  Cause y’all, I’m tired of all that lying!  

I’m owning the power that has been given to me.  One of those powers is joy, and I intend to use it to the fullest!

Ok, wooh!  Now that that’s off my chest…

I’ve decided to continue the investigation in my daily life, and today I feel a step closer to the next question:  why do I write?

Particularly online, that is.  And I’m just starting to have the sneaking suspicion that I know why, but that’s another post for another time.

For now, I leave you with the question originally posed by Meryl:

“Why do you practice?”

And I hope the answers lead you closer to yourself.

5 thoughts on “Why Do You Practice?

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