The Vedic period is a precious time in the history of Mother India and dates to 600BCE. During this time, it is believed that the Vedas were written. Meaning "knowledge" in Sanskrit, the Vedas are the most ancient of Hindu scriptures. They are a sacred collection of sanskrit literature, hymns and philosophy and are believed to be the birth seeds of wisdom that make up the yogic path that I teach you about in class every week. The Vedas teach of the pursuit of truth (or "sat" in sanskit). They shine a light on a fundamental core truth, the one we as modern day humans, seek to know the most...the truth of who we are.
On our yoga mat, we search, through breath and movement, to understand the self more deeply. The Vedic teachings explain to us that the truth is that we are already whole and complete. We in our modern day language are enough, we possess intrinsic worth. We are divine and it is wasted effort to seek for happiness and fulfillment outside of ourselves because we already are in possession of these traits that we work our ass off to achieve in our adult life.
So take a breath with me...settle your racing mind back onto these words and let them sink in. You already are complete!
For me, this remembrance is behind WHY I practice today. To return to wholeness, to embrace and embody my completeness. To stand in my worth, as I am, today and breathe off the need to change, conform and adjust and to instead, embody and embrace my divinity and my place in the universe.
It took me a hell of a long time to come to this truth because I got all my information and validation early on in my journey from the yoga industry. And the yoga industry is f***ed up.
The path, the practice, teaches we are enough, we matter, we are complete, but the yoga industry promotes the complete opposite message, one I played a large part in promoting early in my career.
We are seekers by nature, on this wildly mystical journey. We live on this planet, in the middle of a vast cosmos, whose very existence is mind blowing and when we pause, we can hear the longing of our soul murmur...why are we here? How is this all possible? So naturally we seek...and we lean in and listen to anything that seems to broadcast the answer to these mystical questions.
So in my early 20's, disenchanted by my strict religious upbringing, I began to question, long for, and ultimately embark on a personal, spiritual pilgrimage for truth. It was about this time that my yoga journey began and I, like many, listened to the industry as the holders of truth. I got sucked into the black hole for a few years and am still processing and repairing the effects to this day.
The yoga industry is billions of dollars and the message it promotes couldn't be more harmful to all of us who are seeking. We seek to understand, too belong, to be free, and the yoga industry told me early on "nope, you don't belong, but you will once you have these $90 yoga pants." So I believed that message and consumed, $90 yoga pants and anything else I could get my hands on to help me validate my worth, find happiness and feel like I belonged. When I consumed enough the industry said "ok, you own enough $90 yoga pants we will reward you" and I was asked to be a brand ambassador for the biggest yoga apparel company on the planet. At the time I thought "OMG I belong, I matter" At the time I though I was making an impact, but I see now my impact was harmful on my community. The industry perpetuated this harmful message using my face as it's poster child. It told my beloved students that they weren't yet whole and they weren't complete because they didn't have the $90 yoga pants that sought after teacher Jessie Kates has.
It didn't stop there...I also heard the message that I wasn't complete until I could do a handstand. This message is everywhere in the external white washed western yoga scene. It is a bunch of beautiful slender white women in gorgeous yoga pants, balancing on their hands with ease making us feel inadequate. The industry is promoting that THIS is why we do yoga, this is what we are supposed to be working towards. So I worked my butt off and my yoga practice had a laser focus...figure out how to do a handstand and you will be whole, you will be happy.
So for years, I looked spectacular in my $90 yoga pants balancing on my hands in pretty pictures, helping industry giants boost their bottom line, unaware I was a part of the problem. Blinded by a false sense of belonging from an industry that just kept throwing more (now free) $90 yoga pants down my throat. A few years into that journey controlled by the yoga industry, I looked around at a packed yoga class I was teaching filled with skinny white girls in $90 yoga pants and I had an epiphany that changed the course of my journey, my career and my message. I hadn't evolved one damn bit as a person, my approach was causing harm, this wasn't yoga and it was time for a SHIFT.
So I walked away, from the industry, I stopped supporting industry brands, I stopped teaching handstand workshops and at places that promoted yoga as fitness.
I stopped it all, hit restart and began my search again, for the truth, I needed to return to wholeness so I could help others do the same.
It's been many years, but the power of the practice saved my life, helped me changed the narrative, rewrite the story and be a part of making a shift, one I am still actively rewriting as I type.
The yoga practice teaches a simple truth, the truth of who you are, the truth you need to hear, if you can drown out the noise on your news feed of advertisers. You are already whole and complete, you don't need $90 pants, you don't need to be able to do any yoga poses, you are intrinsically enough. To remember this truth takes courage to break up with the yoga industry and re engage with the yoga practice, too recommit to the path, as it was first gifted to the planet, to us all from the Vedas.
The wisdom is ancient, about as ancient as it comes, but it is simple and just what we need to hear and will need to hear for generations to come. We are already complete, we are already whole, we are the embodiment of happiness, joy is our birthright, we belong, we matter just as we are.
When you engage in yoga, engage from this place, from the roots of the practice. Thank Mother India for nurturing her messages on her shores. When you move and breathe your body around on a mat, move and breath to reawaken to your core truth, not for 6 pack abs.
It is time for a SHIFT and I will always be here to help you make it deep within yourself so that we can make it together in the world. I will be here to lovingly be a champion for truth, a guardian of the wisdom and vow to always share it with reverence and love and help you see this truth that exists within you and always did, long before you ever stepped foot on a yoga mat.
We are complete, already, each one of us, just as we are.