I AM YOGA by Vicky Peters

September 10, 2013 at 3:45 PM


I want to write about faith,
about the way the moon rises
over cold snow, night after night, faithful even as it fades from fullness, 
slowly becoming that last curving and impossible 
sliver of light before the final darkness. But I have no faith myself 
I refuse it even the smallest entry. Let this then, my small poem, 
like a new moon, slender and barely open, 
be the first prayer that opens me to faith.

 -- David Whyte

I’ve written and rewritten this “I am Yoga” a few times.

What describes my journey on this path, this unfolding, evolving union of breath, body, mind, and heart?

How effortless this can at times feel alone on my mat, drenched in the safety of my asana practice, and how completely foreign it can feel when caught off guard by my own reaction, my judgement of such only compounding this, the doubt or hidden fear I secretly thought was “overcome.” The union, is continually unfolding, perfectly imperfect in its most whole and raw form.

Yoga is life really, the opening to all of it and yet, the seed I feel inside me, the topic that most moves me, within this connection, is that of faith. And some part of me rejected this as a suitable thread for yoga.

My fascination both teaching communication, studying communication, and then at times royally screwing up communication to the Nth degree seemed “better.”

The acceptance I feel releasing the need to do headstand as a yoga teacher, this too seemed more safe.  

At times I feel like faith is an entirely too charged word to share openly, even in yoga, even as I end a class in a rolling three OM vibration.  

Maybe my faith is not “faithful enough,” therefore who am I to even mention it?

I fear an argument. Would this offend people completely not meaning to at all?

And yet whenever I’m around someone who is brave and open, and willing to share their inner most thoughts and feelings on faith, on trust, on the loaded three letter word G-O-D, on life, on hurt, on those moments void of any belief or knowing….i feel a relief - I don’t have to hold this tight inside to the audience of one. I can share my doubts and hopes free of any need to “know” or “be right” or claim any stance or pride or victory even. Free to open the unlocked doors upon our hearts and dare to admit fully our greatest longing and our greatest fear and the knowing that … really we don’t know, in essence, each day, involves a certain amount of faith and trust.

During my 200 yoga teacher training faith and prayer and G-O-D were spoken of often. In the beginning inside this really disturbed me. I came here to learn yoga, meaning asanas, not to read the Gita. I came here to teach, not to write a love letter to myself, weeping through the process realizing that at 27 I didn’t even fully know, or trust, or have faith that I felt love … not towards others, but towards myself.

At that graduation, one of the main teachers, one who owned his faith so fully and so openly at the same time, he looked at me and said, “You too are of value, have enough faith in your life and in yourself and in the mystery to know that.”

Before I had always equated faith with the bible, or with a church, or temple, or an argument over rightnesss and wrongness, or politics, and social choices one way or another. I had never thought of myself, me, as having a part or place within faith.

We judge ourselves in countless ways, and can use faith, the fullness of, or full lacking of, to divide and deepen that separateness.

When maybe faith is simply having the courage to share our heart story, fully. To dare to trust with our whole hearts and our whole fears and to still show up, believing, this is the only way, to try, to believe.

Maybe faith is found alone in the mountains or by the ocean.

Maybe faith is found in word, in a book.

Maybe it is found the moment you see a person on the subway and get up to give them your seat because you know, in your heart, fully, that it’s the right thing to do. What is that knowing?

Maybe faith is loving yourself knowing you just made a big mistake, the kind you hope no one ever knows of, and you are questioning the moment fully. What is that questioning?

Maybe faith is us each, fully different, and flawed, and beautiful, and beaming, and scared, us each pausing for a moment and looking at each other with the same awe, wonder, and curiousity as we do the deep unknowns of the ocean, or the farthest stretches of outer space?

The truth is, I’m not sure I’m faithful enough to dare discuss faith.

I have more questions than any idea of answers.

The truth is some part of my full union, body, breath, mind, and heart, wants to believe, and wants to trust, and I’m not sure if that’s enough, of where that even comes from. But, like knowing its right to share a snack with your friend, I don’t question the wanting, I just know, its there, for a reason, a purpose, and maybe that hope for faith, void of any certainty alongside it,  the opening to it, could be faithful enough for me?

That day I saw beneath dark clouds

the passing light over the water

and I heard the voice of the world speak out,

I knew then, as I had before

life is no passing memory of what has been

nor the remaining pages in a great book

waiting to be read.

It is the opening of eyes long closed.

It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.

It is the heart after years
of secret conversing

speaking out loud in the clear air.

It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.

It is the man throwing away his shoes

as if to enter heaven

and finding himself astonished,

opened at last,

fallen in love with solid ground.

 -- David Whyte