I’ve never seen myself as goal-oriented. I’ve always been a dreamer, with big ideas and values. A friend recently described me as “a seeker.” This perspective has definitely given me a sense of purpose, but I’ve often felt crushed by the weight of my own lofty dreams. In past newsletters I wrote about skipping steps and the healing benefits of doing ‘nothing’ as a by-product and solution to burnout. I think I needed to go there before I could get to a place where I can filter out the internal and external distractions in order to get shit done. To take baby steps, or participate in what a person more patient than myself might describe as ‘the process.’
But I’m learning! I’m learning how to sloooooow down.
I didn’t check in here for over a month because I took a yoga teacher training program (!!) and wanted to focus on what proved to be a physically and mentally intense process. I mean, I guess I could have just typed something out, but I spend time on these and that would have defied the goal of trying to slow down!
The other reason for making this yoga goal is a bit more complicated, but it also speaks to baby steps and process. Modern yoga culture’s relationship to Hindu spirituality, ‘Eastern’ philosophies, and brown people in general is weird and exploitative. This isn’t about white people doing yoga, but more about how that perpetuates the lack of brown people who are able to speak, move, get paid, or just comfortably participate in a discipline that connects to our traditions. For years I stayed away from yoga but last year, while practicing at the very wicked Sacred Brooklyn in Bed-Stuy, I dug my heels in. I wanted to move past feeling powerless and alienated. I didn’t even know if I wanted to teach, but trying seemed like the best way to figure it out. So I took a baby step and set a goal.
And I’m not just CHUFFED AF to have accomplished it — I’m banging on the furnace of god’s frickin’ basement! I’m proud of myself because it was scary! I faced my values and ego, my body, anxiety, cultural identity, professional fears, and my own damn impatience.
I’m slower in life too. Earlier to bed, and earlier to rise — not to get a head start on the day but to let it unfurl quietly before my attention is hijacked. Moving intentionally with new friendships. Taking hot baths in the morning, and going to sound baths at night. IDK. Enjoying… life? ((FYI, that was weird to type but let’s just go with it and add “I didn’t know I could enjoy life” to the list of strange admissions this newsletter has unearthed 🤦🏾♀️))
Last week in training, I ‘yesssss’d as we moved into a restorative pose. A new friend on the next mat over started cackling about my sloth-y love of bolsters, and eye pillows, and lying in stillness. “You really pamper yourself,” she said. My Taurus moon just popped out 🌚
Rest matters though! And I don’t just mean sleeping/napping, or meditation and movement. For me this includes small tasks that allow me to feel more rested throughout the day. Meal-prepping, taking a short walk to return a library book on time, cooking and washing up as I go, doing laundry before a trip so I come home to fresh sheets (pro-tip 😎), or making the damn BED in the first place.
Khalila put me onto Naimonu James, who recently wrote this: “There is radical justice in rest. Leave the glamour of self-sacrifice on behalf of others behind. Listen within before doing without.” Tara Brach would get somatic with it and say something like, “Feel from the neck down.”
Even when I was practicing yoga 10 years ago, I never spent much quiet time with my body. Instead I learned to minimize, control, berate, overwork, and ignore it. On top of that, my dad didn’t allow my brother and I to sleep in when we were kids! From where I’m at now, it feels like a betrayal to forego relaxation in favour of being clenched, servile, distracted, defensive, aggressive, and acquisitive all of the time. Our bodies send out a lot of signals that our external lives help obscure, and yoga allowed me to start decoding some of that. The point of this whole meta-ass story about slowing down is that maybe that’s what I can contribute as a yoga teacher, you know? Not to rebrand myself as a social justice yogi — there are lots of others working on that! — but to simply rehabilitate the self-abnegation of my body, and maybe help other people (like my parents) with it too. Slowing down makes me feel more secure in my intuition, which is the stuff big ideas are made of :)
Lots of love,
P.S. My summer anthem: “Secret” Burna Boy Ft. Serani and Jeremih