Brave was never me growing up, it was always the kids around me. The kids jumping off things and into things were brave, and to me, it all seemed crazy.
I was scared of everything. I had zero interest in cartwheels or rollerblades like the rest of the kids and I didn't learn how to ride a bike until my younger sister wanted to take it on. Ice skate? Forget it. When Barney surprised me at my 6th birthday party, I fled in terror, only to remain paralyzed throughout the celebration. Safe to say, I felt most comfortable proceeding with caution.
But the story didn't end there. The story didn't just say, "You're cautious" over and over again. It said "What's wrong with you? Why don't you take risks like all the other kids? Why don't you just try it and stop worrying so much? You're no fun!" So rehearsed over the years, I believed this was my character. The one that stayed away from adventure and excitement and possibility because of fear.
This mindset carried me into my early twenties and held strong until I found myself on a yoga mat for the first time. Slow down, notice and listen? This was going to be a challenge. But something about the practice kept me coming back day after day. Everything hurt and I had no clue what I was doing, but I kept going back. I didn't know it then, but I was discovering who my character really was, one movement at a time.
This discovery changed the course of my life indefinitely. I started to realize that the courage I saw and admired in those around me was within me as well. That I could make the choices I wanted to make to live life on my terms. All I had to do was decide. Decide to take the step, the leap, to be brave and lead with my heart.
Yoga was just that, my daily dose of courage. So I'd practice my yoga and my courage would follow. I didn't notice the correlation until I found myself packing for a 3 month backpacking trip to Asia a few months ago. I had quit my job, completed my yoga teacher training, and wanted to spend some time away in a new place.
Living my yoga on and off the mat has added chapters to my life I could never have imagined. Tomorrow I leave for India with my sister for a month and as one usually feels before a big day, I am eager with excitement of the unknown. With efforts to remain as calm as possible, I went to a farewell-flow class and ended up walking out in tears. Where was the girl who first landed on the mat years ago? The one who believed she wasn't brave, that she wasn't strong? When did she become trusting of her own light?
By leading with the heart when making decisions in life, I choose to trust.