The Truth is in Your Body

Dec 7th, 2017

As a new mom, I’ve noticed there is a lot of information about how to parent and how to live your life. In fact, there is a lot of information available about everything. By simply typing a few buttons, you have access to a wealth of ideas within seconds. It’s a huge blessing, but as a yogi, it can also be distracting. Some people have access to over 600 television channels, a million Internet sites, and an opinion on every topic thought of by man and woman. As a new mother, I found information on vaccinations, on sleep management, about nursing, and about how to interact and how not to interact with your child. The list goes on and on. As a yogi, there is information about how to meditate, about how not to mediate, about which Yoga is better and why, and about who and what you should or should not pray too. As a person living in the world, it is up to each individual to choose whom and what to listen to, but how do you decide?

When I first found out I was pregnant, I started remembering things my mother did and said. Like when I was sick, she would make the most amazing potato soup. As a kid, I would sift through my parent’s bookshelves and read everything. At the bottom of the bookshelves behind the other books, there were my parent’s older, pre-children books, and when I found them, I felt like I had discovered a secret treasure. I remember one book about pregnancy, and so when I found out about my pregnancy, I, of course, wanted to read the same book my mom had read. The book focused on all the horrible things that could go wrong during these 9 months. It forgot the beauty of life, and as I read it, I forgot not only the miracle of life, but I also had become disconnected from myself. I was getting my answers from an outside source. I had forgotten to connect with my body and with my heart.

After a few chapters, I stopped reading the book and started practising more Yoga. I shifted my attention inward and on the positive. Like attracts like. I remembered presence is one of the best gifts a mom, or any person can give or have available. When there is presence, you can feel in your bones and in your body. A book cannot tell you what to do or when something is about to happen. It can only be practised by practice. It can only be learned by continual effort coupled with a deep and reverent letting-go. You must pay attention to your body. By doing this, presence becomes a way of being. It even moves past practice; it is who you are and what you do.

I went to my first Yoga class in college. I didn’t know anything about Yoga. Yoga fulfilled a PE requirement, and I did not like the other options. Yoga won by a process of elimination. We often held Savasana for a long time, and I loved getting a little “nap” every other day. After the semester was over, I could not stop thinking about Yoga. It touched me deeply, so I looked for a studio. I ended up seeing a flyer by a toilet. I honestly don’t know how it got there, but I called while using the john and went to a class within two hours. I sweat more in that class than I had in my entire life, and I left feeling better than had in years. It was exhilarating. I was 22 years old, and I had started a journey inward.

At the time, I liked to figure things out, so I went to the library. I read Yoga books, Yoga magazines, Buddhist books, Wicca books, Jesus books, etc. I was drawn to books that seemed to answer my many questions.

I was hoping to find an answer to how I should be in the world, but instead of answers, I had more questions. The more I read, the less I knew, and the more I practised Yoga, the less I knew; so I started asking myself, “what do I know?”

At the time, I didn’t listen to myself very much, and I wasn’t in touch with my body. I didn’t trust my intuition, but I thought it did. I was so in my head that I had to think about being in my body. I would look for signs in order to make a decision. I didn’t know it then, but I had destroyed my relationship with myself and with my body. When I was hungry, I would eat what a health magazine or an advertisement had told me to eat. I didn’t really know what my body needed in order to thrive. It was yet another piece of information that was “out there.” There was no listening. I had started to treat my self like an object. I was like a trash can: filled-up with garbage from the inside out.

Over the next year, I practised listening to myself on my Yoga mat. Through practice, I began to “yoke” my body with my spirit. I was no longer an object that needed to fit in a certain sized pair of jeans. I became a living, thriving, and evolving being. I learned how to stop pushing and forcing things. Of course this started small like instead of forcing my self to do every single posture in a class, I would allow myself to rest in a simple child’s pose. Instead of contorting my personality so that someone would like me, I was able to relax with what is: me. Yoga allowed me to get comfortable in my own skin.

After about five or six years of asana practice, I developed a steady meditation practice. Sometimes, I would sit for 30 seconds. Other times, I could sit for 10 minutes. I started to depend on my meditation practice to ground me for the day. When life would suddenly shift, it helped me stay centered and would connect me to reality.

At some point, I noticed I still didn’t know what I really wanted in my life. I had spent many years reacting, so instead of a life by choice and creation, I was living a life of reaction and emotional survival. So I asked myself what it wanted. At first, the question brought more confusion, so I came back to my body and my mediation practice and asked my body, bypassing my mind. When I felt this confusion or when I felt bombarded with outside information, I sat, closed my eyes, and listened. I would give my body different scenarios and see how my body would react. There were usually only two options, and they were usually in opposition with one and another and I did not know what to do. I would play one option out and wait and see how my body would react. Then I would play out the other option and wait and see how my body would react. I would then go with the option that would give my body the most freedom and the most expansiveness. I began a different relationship with myself though Yoga. I now trusted my body’s intuition.

Many years later, my practice of listening to my body anchors me in sound knowing. My life is busier and I have more responsibilities, but I also have more peace and ease. I trust my body and no longer need to sit to make decisions. I have a deep connection with myself, and because of this deep relationship with myself, I now have deep, loving relationships with others.

As a product of my personal work, I have created a truly wonderful family. I have a beautiful daughter, Violet, and am so excited to teach her these practices. One of the best things a parent can do is learn to love and trust herself. Who you are being for your children speaks loudly. They may not remember what you say, but they will remember how you made them feel. You cannot teach trust if you don’t trust yourself. You cannot teach love if you do not love yourself. Create a generation of children living in peace and let it start from the inside out.

Osho said, “Intuition is to be in tune with oneself, totally in tune with oneself. And out of that tuning, solutions arise from nowhere.”

There will always be external information, but when you are in your body, and listening to your heart, you are grounded in a deeper way. You have a very rapid feedback system, and with practice, you don’t have to close your eyes. You just know what to do, and it is truly an awesome place to live. Just like I had to sift through my parents’ books, you may have to do a little soul searching, but even a path away from your path brings you closer, in the end, to your truth. This is the way of the human. It is a deep place of peace that comes from knowing you are living your own life, your own truth, and your own dharma. It is truly an enlightened place to live and a gift to the entire planet.

About the Author
Originally from Indiana, Erika Henderson teaches dynamic, challenging, and joyful Vinyasa classes deeply embedded with mindfulness, energetic asana, and personal connection to self and spirit. Also a Reiki Master, Erika believes practice is a moment-to-moment choice to live in greater harmony with one’s truth and divine essence. She is passionate about living in and spreading greater peace and knows that the path to peace starts with the individual.
Erika is a 500 hour registered Yoga Alliance teacher and a Certified Baptiste Power Vinyasa Teacher. She has assisted Baron Baptiste at his teacher trainings. She currently lives in Austin, TX and is also the proud mother of one beautiful daughter, Violet and one drooling French Mastiff, Chunks.

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