Practice an awakening journey that leads to personal discovery.
I began my yoga “journey” in the summer of 1972. I was 12 years old then. I was 7 when I had my first taste of meditation. I am so grateful that these things came to me when they did.
These were seeds that were planted and that grew and bloomed in ways I could never have imagined, and the timing of each was precise-precision. It seems like a lifetime ago, and yet the richness and splendor of the yoga is ever renewing in my life just as it always has. As with life itself, all of the beginning and ending and beginning again that life is, is yoga.
Yoga was (and is) always there—a part of me—reminding me of who I am and the beauty of life in all of its forms and turns. Even when it’s not pretty. Even when it was so dark and so painful, didn’t even know if I could breathe again. Yoga was a way for me to go to those places in myself as well. I’ve had great teachers. I’ve learned the value of re-defining things, never taking someone (anyone) else’s word for it, and to explore, discover and discern life, living, yoga and spirituality in my own way. I’ve always known that this was the only way for me—to find the truth of it for myself—alive, authentic, real, sustaining and meaningful for me.
On the surface (it’s all on the surface), but there is so much more there than what you might think. The deepest teachings of yoga are all there—on the mat and off, “hidden in plain sight” (Dr. Douglas Brooks). Everything is present. Everything you want to know is all right here, “hidden in plain sight.” But until you have eyes to see it, and until you look for it, it will remain hidden. You can find talks and classes on the deeper meanings and teachings of yoga, but the truth is, we can only really hint at these things—plant the seeds—because each of us must find it in our own way. It has to be personal to be real and meaningful and authentic, otherwise we’re just repeating what we heard, believing what we’re told to believe and never once asking the question of the only one that can answer truthfully…our very Selves.
Practicing yoga makes us stronger and more flexible. It promotes health and well being. It clears our minds and our hearts. It teaches us healthy ways to deal with—and see—stress and tension (good and bad). It teaches us to find the balance of effort and surrender; to stay at ease in our hearts and minds. And to be in a room full of people—all practicing together—moving and breathing together, like birds flying in formation across the sky, with only the breath and the air to guide them. Sublime!
But if you scratch the surface, the practice of yoga asana begins to wind and unwind us. It opens places inside of us that are closed or hidden. It releases things that we have been holding onto, and that seem to have been holding on to us. What are the tapes that we play (that were played for us—and that we keep playing over and over again like the song that once had meaning)? And what is true now? The practice of yoga gives us the format and the opportunity to explore—to see and discern—what is inside of us. All of it. We learn to be with ourselves, as we are, and then to be with everything as it is. We see past the parts that we play, into what is real and true and meaningful. Who are we really? We are the light and the shadow. There can’t be one without the other. And when we know what is truly ours, no one, no thing, can ever take it away from us.
I love being on my mat and teaching— living my yoga—because I know that it’s tilling the soil and planting seeds. It reminds me of what’s precious, meaningful and beautiful in life. It keeps me tapped into that, no matter what. It reminds me of what’s most important. It’s not just a thing that I do. It teaches me to see and accept things as they are, not just how I want them to be. It helps me to keep my eyes, my mind and my heart open, no matter what. It reminds me, forever and always, that life is for the living. And that’s what the world needs most—people that are awake, alive and really, truly living.
Raye Lynn Rath is the owner of The Yoga Institute in Houston and the Bay Area, co-owner of Sacred Art Yoga; Teacher Training, Workshops and Retreats (with Becky Jordan) and ambassador for Lululemon Athletica in Highland Village. She welcomes beginning and seasoned students to her studio. Teacher Training, Advanced Studies, Workshops, Events and Retreats are offered throughout the year. More information is available at her websites: www.yogainstitute.com and www.sacredartyoga.com