We Are More Than Our Bodies
By Cara, Guest Contributor
I was 18, scared, trapped, and unaware that the life that I was living was a lie. I tried so hard to be the child that I felt that my parents wanted me to be and what I thought society expected me to be. While home from college one summer, and in the midst of struggling with an eating disorder, but in denial, I stepped into my first yoga class.
Yoga was offered as a group class at the gym that I was working out at for a few hours a day. I read in Shape Magazine that Mary Kate Olsen and Madonna practiced yoga as a way to exercise and tone their bodies. I thought that if I took yoga classes like them, I would also be skinny and beautiful like them.
I don’t remember much about the classes that I took that summer, but I do remember that I was enchanted with the physical aspect of being able twist my body into different shapes as well as the spirituality of it. For some reason, I believed that yoga would be the solution to my problems. So I kept going to classes and began to research yoga philosophy.
At times, I envisioned myself moving to India and living in an ashram. I would be able to live a yogic lifestyle, become adept in the physical practice, have no problems and become skinny like the yogis in magazines. However, over the years, my practice deepened, transformed and evolved by studying with inspirational teachers and working with skilled professionals. I was becoming more focused on the spirituality of yoga versus the physical.
Eight years after my first yoga class, I was guided to Bali, a place I never heard of for my first yoga teacher training. It was there that I started to realize that we are more than our bodies and there is more to this life than the 9 to 5 daily grind and having a white-picket fence.
Bali opened me up and life led me to study ashtanga yoga in India. India led me to my first 10 day silent meditation retreat with S.N. Goenka. It was there that I learned dhamma and was able to begin to experience that indeed we are more than the body. I also was able to experience the phenomenon of impermanence, acceptance, pure generosity and love.
With a dedicated and consistent practice, things in my life shifted, but not for the better. Old painful wounds arose and I knew I had to deal with them. I knew I had to speak and live my truth in order to fully recover.
It has been 15 years since my first yoga class. I am amazed and proud of the woman I am. The life I live is beyond my wildest dreams, and I am so blessed and grateful for all of the teachings that I received. The places I have been, the people who I have met, and the accomplishments I have made are all things that I would have never guessed that I would have experienced years ago.
I try my best to follow yoga’s moral and ethical codes, the yamas and niyamas. I try my best to cause no harm to myself and others. I try my best to speak my truth and be honest with others. I try my best to not take what isn’t mine, and take only what I need. I try to practice non-attachment because of the law of impermanence. I try my best to find moderation and to be content in my life. I try my best to have self-discipline and to observe myself over time. Most importantly, I try my best to surrender to the unknown and have compassion for all beings everywhere.
I am grateful for all of my teachers, professionals and friends that have guided me along the way. Thank you. Self-realization is not and easy path to walk, but it is the path I choose to walk.
“You are not the Body, you are the Supreme Self.” - Amma Sri Karunamayi
Cara has traveled the world extensively and lived in Asia for five years studying yoga, meditation, philosophy, chanting and reiki. She currently resides in New York City and teaches yoga to adults and children. She can be contacted at CFYogalife@gmail.com.