Express yourself

Last week, I revealed to students, both in the Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) Program I am co-facilitating as well as within my public yoga classes, that I haven’t been theming for a while. To this statement I received a number of questions and inquiries: Some people wanted to know what theming was, while others immediately wanted to know why it is that I haven’t been theming.

In response to the first question, I replied that theming theming (at least for the context of this post) is defined as the the philosophical concept that serves as the grounding piece within a class. This philosophical idea is what many call a “dharma talk.” Such dharma talks, or themes, can be based upon personal experiences, text, seasons, weather, or events. These talks often help shape and focus a class around a given idea or concept for inquiry.

With regard to the second question, I simply said I wasn’t in a space to theme. Specifically, I have not been in a place in which I could honestly and authentically discuss the various things that I have been experiencing within my mental, physical, and emotional body. And so instead of discussing any of these factors, some of which evoke a great deal of sadness, I have opted to say nothing.

And while I thought this was an okay thing to do, in teaching my YTT students to theme, I heard myself say to them that they should theme all the time!

WHAT?!?  Why the contradiction between my actions and my beliefs? Why did I tell them to do something that I currently felt unable to do? The answer to this question, which no one seemed to ask – perhaps out of politeness, is this: Theming is a form of self-expression. And while the cost of such self-expression may be invisible to others, the impact that it has on the individual is tremendous. 

First, as the Kindness Yoga Owner has said, our dharma talks, speaking to what is true for us, is a forms of self-healing. By sharing what is true for us – even those things that cause pain, sorrow, and embarrassment, we bring those aspects of our experiences out of the shadows and into the light. This journey helps us not only find acceptance and forgiveness for ourselves, but in the sharing of our truths helps others do the same.  

This revelation in turn creates a sense of connection, not only betweenpeople, but also within an individual as there is no longer a division between what we deem “acceptable” me and “unacceptable” me. There is only unity.

The second reason to theme, even when it is hard, is that by not theming, by not speaking from one’s true experience, you then leave yourself needing to manage and control how you are seen, all the while feeling completely alone and isolated. This leads to a lot of unnecessary stress, sadness, grief, and even depression.  The cost of not expressing yourself is your vitality, your happiness, your ease, in short it is YOU!!!

So the question I have for you, the one I am working to answer for myself this week is this: How in this moment can I allow myself to be a bit more expressive? How can I begin to drop the walls that say I need to control everything – including how I may be feeling at this moment? How can I accept where I am and be brave enough to firmly stand and speak from where I am?

These questions might be applied to your romantic relationships where perhaps you’ve held your tongue out of fear of hurting another person’s feeling. They might apply to your professional life, where perhaps you keep your head down in an effort to just get buy without rocking the boat. They

might even apply to how you live your life and relate to your body and physical and mental health. Whatever it is for you, can you remind yourself that although this may be a scary step in which you say something to someone who doesn’t understand or doesn’t respond as you’d like them to, by not stepping into courageous vulnerability and honest expression, you’re paying the ultimate cost: You, your happiness, your joy, your light, your love, and your life.

Only by standing up and speaking up do we have the potential to fulfill our hearts deepest longings.