A few years before I started practicing yoga, I inexplicably lost the ability to sing and was left with chronic pain in my neck. It was a deep loss for me but I felt certain a doctor could help. I pooled all my resources into getting my voice back. I changed jobs to get benefits then went to several doctors who sent me to other specialists, tried different diets and cleanses, I even spent an entire month without speaking! But nothing helped. In fact, living in the grey for so long without a clear diagnosis left me fearful that I was beyond help. I felt hopeless. An aunt of mine, a psychoanalyst, suggested that maybe I was in the habit of “swallowing my emotions”. This was my first push into studying the mind/body connection. I began to understand that the body will house what the mind cannot express. And conversely, when we can find words for our experience, the body stops having to carry it. I was drawn to yoga because I was at a loss for words. I was worn out from trying to explain myself and burnt out on our broken healthcare system. Coming to class allowed me to be in community with people without speaking. Furthermore, I didn’t need to explain myself because yoga teachers read bodies, not words, and much to my relief they simply recognized the pain I was in. It was extremely validating. I entered teacher training still grossly in need of healing and hoping to be somebody new. I thought a rigorous yoga practice would change me from a rather shy person full of self-doubt to someone ready to work the room (ha!). What I’ve found is that the practice of yoga is by all means transformative but it’s a slow whittling process rather than an overnight makeover. I think we all long to get to the heart of who we are, to shine out our true self, hope people will see our true selves and love us back. We might start just wanting to get in shape, hoping that if we practice, we will lose weight and that this skinny inner self will shine out from in us and we will be loved. But eventually, we realize this hunger is deeper than skin and bones, fat and muscle. We are making our way towards truth and the path is inward. As a teacher I hope only to encourage students that whatever shape they are in is just the right space to begin working from. Healing is rarely a pretty process. That should be known upfront! With this understanding we can make room for ourselves to be clumsy and ashamed, angry, scared and tired as well as joyful. We can be these things together and start each practice from a very honest place knowing that the community around us won’t be scared off.