“I started my yoga journey when I was in high school. At first, my practice was supplemental exercise to my classical dance training, which at the time was my entire world. By the time I was 16, I was already positive that I wanted to become a professional ballet dancer. I spent my summers alone living in New York City, dancing around the clock. For me, it was really important that I cross-trained and enhanced my strength and flexibility outside of dance in every way possible. I was going to the gym but also practicing yoga on a regular basis. At that point, I enjoyed the physical aspect of yoga but didn’t think too much about the mindfulness elements to it.
Once I left the area and went away to school, I started taking yoga classes again with an instructor who also taught dance at my college. She was was able to bring different disciplines into her dancing, and taught me a lot about how I could go about doing the same. For the first time I dabbled into styles apart from ballet, like hip hop and jazz, which I’d never done in my ten years of dancing. She had a really great way of taking us out of our ‘dance brains’, which I hadn’t been able to do before. When dancing is your world, it was hard to separate life from dance; they were just one in the same, always, and so for the first time, she brought me out of that space.
Yoga didn’t really stay with me throughout the entire journey. It came and went. Whenever I would come home to Endicott, NY I would reconnect with my practice. I felt very comfortable there, but, I didn’t really know why at the time. I didn’t even think to ask myself those questions.
Fast forward to when I came back home from being abroad for six years – first in Australia and then in Israel, I was going through a very big breakup with a partner of nine years. After trying to deal in different ways with the stress and the sadness it caused me, I finally, for the first time, found refuge in the mental clarity yoga gave me. I also really needed a community and a support system, which was in lack all my years of traveling.
All of these things combined made my hometown yoga studio my favorite place to be. When I first got home, I wasn’t working so I was able to base my entire routine around yoga. It was during that month of having an everyday practice that I started to get a lot stronger physically, but more importantly I became stronger mentally. Being so physically sound, I didn’t have to rely on my body anymore to execute yoga effectively. I could focus on the mental components of the practice.
I feel like there’s a lot of “doors” in yoga, that become unlocked the more and more I practice.
I’m still going through really big transitions even though I’ve been back home for almost two years now. I’m in a brand new field as a career coach, so I’m allowing my instincts to guide the way. I know from experience that it’s not always going to feel comfortable, but that doesn’t mean I’m on the wrong path. It’s just part of the process. Even though my life is constantly changing, yoga has brought me consistency. I’m able to be comfortable with the uncomfortable now.
It’s remarkable how yoga has taught me to be okay with those feelings that are not easy to deal with. We’re all going through a process and if you just let what needs to happen, happen, I believe you’ll become a better person on the other side. Because yoga has taught me this great sense of self-awareness, I’m now able to recognize things that are going on internally.
My whole life I’ve heard my intuition, but never truly followed it completely. Sometimes it’s still a challenge for me to do- just letting things happen. But it gets easier and easier because I’ve let yoga help me tap into that feeling, letting it be the consistency that I need.
Because I’m such a do-er, a planner, and a proactive person by nature, I would force things to happen in my life. After that month of having a daily practice and a lot of looking within, I’ve learned how powerful it is to let things go. This is the first time I’ve been able to go with the flow, and not have my goals etched in permanent marker.
So, for anyone who’s letting fear of the unknown keep them from following their intuition or making a major life decision, just keep listening. You can’t rush the process. All that you’re experiencing needs to happen to get you where you’re meant to be. That initial fear will start to dissipate, and you’ll realize that the things you want to achieve, are not so unachievable. Whether it’s yoga, dance, a relationship, your career – just go for it. Even if you fail, you’re not really failing. When you’re taking consistent, imperfect action, you’ll become the best version of yourself.” – Aisha Jasper
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