I step into the space, it’s sticky and smiley and smells of incense. A quick and timid hello manages to slip its way out of my mouth as I shuffle my belongings into a cubby and scurry into the steaming hot studio to set up my mat. Conversations ensue around me, everything from neighborhood gossip to light, casual laughs hit my ears. I lay on my mat, though, sinking further and further inward, as the walls I’ve built up around me grow thicker. I want to be here. I love being here, but it is my experience and my experience alone—by strict personal policy. I don’t have it in my heart to open a window to my soul for the community here, or communities anywhere, really. Trust doesn’t manifest with ease for a person like me. Why am I so terrified to get to know the people who make up this space I feel so drawn to? Even more than that, sometimes I feel completely numb to it, as in zero will to connect with a single person here or anywhere. Yoga is my sanctuary, my escape from the fear of the world I’ve cultivated over time. Yet, the world is still around me, even here. It’s buzzing within the energy of this community and the social prose of this class. Showing up on my mat is a risky move, as it means I am walking the line of my own comfortability. But for whatever reason, the practice is calling me, a call that is strong, and loud, and passionate. I can’t ignore it, so I continue to show up, staring at my fears from afar every time.
I began practicing at Bare Feet over two years ago. The evolution of my relationship with this community has been both a remarkable struggle and a complete joy. I spent, roughly, my first two years showing up in this silence, intensely apprehensive about holding conversations, or connecting with people on any level. We hear so often that the experience we have on our mat is merely a reflection of our experience in life, and that is exactly what manifested for me at Bare Feet. For many years in life, I was terrified of letting anyone in. I had my reasons, my traumas that when not tended to, spiraled into paralyzing fears. For that chapter of my life—a very long and trying chapter—yoga and mindfulness served as my thin tether to any kind of peace or happiness. I remember feeling an overwhelming sadness at the pit of my gut because so many people were enjoying each other and connecting over this beautiful practice, but I didn’t have the capacity, even if I tried, to participate.
Time moved on, as it does, and the journey to healing my soul led me to a 200hr yoga teacher training in Costa Rica. It was about a month-long trip that threw me into a community of completely strangers and cut me off from the small world I felt so safe in all together. Similar to the fighting pull yoga once had against my fears, this trip, as uneasy as it made me feel, was a risk I knew I had to take. It was clear to me that my pain and suffering had led to a stagnant existence. My deepest desire was not to merely exist in this world, but to truly impact it, and I knew that would be impossible if I didn’t take some massive leap of faith. As I began to prep and plan for my adventure, simply the intention of pushing myself outside of my comfort zone affected the way in which I related to the Bare Feet community. Slowly, I started to present my voice alongside my presence, at least to a couple instructors—that felt like a safe step. It was fortunate that I did, as the BFPY mentorship program was brought up in conversation and planted like a tiny little seed in the back of my brain.
The community at Bare Feet slipped into the background of my focus as I embarked on my solo journey to Costa Rica. Through plane rides, bus rides, and hotel stays I faced my fear of the world with each step. Once arriving in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle, I was introduced to the most compassionate community of women I would soon call my sisters, my Sangha. In typical fashion, my first few days in the program were accomplished in a more so silent, “down to business” manner. The reason for my calling to that place and time became clear as we began to dive into our higher Selves, our traumas and fears, and our genuine capacity for love. My instructors believed that in order to serve any community through the practice of yoga, one must first navigate their own inner workings, getting to know and love themselves on the most intimate of levels. Needless to say, this trip transformed me in ways I could have never imagined. I began to learn and trust that if I just listened to the call of my spirit, it would guide me to places and people that were willing to hold me and love me in my vulnerability.
Underneath Mother Earth’s jungle canopy, I found a new small world to feel safe in. As the end of this life-altering adventure creeped into my consciousness, feelings of both fear and excitement overwhelmed me. In returning home, I hoped to find a Sangha similar to the one that held me with such irrevocable love in our tropical paradise. It’s funny, though, because for whatever reason the community at Bare Feet never registered as a possible place to find my Chicago-based yoga family. I think the years I spent as a silent practitioner, participating wearily on the outskirts of our community, created the false idea in my head that BFPY was simply a place I went to take class. I wrongly and unintentionally categorized such a loving and supportive community to nothing but my own disservice. Leaving me, once again, a ghost walking running in and out of class, almost as if I wasn’t really there at all.
My integration back into normal life with an evolved and healing soul brought the growing seed that was BFPY’s mentorship program to light. Once again, my tendency to go about any experience from a “down to business” perspective kicked in, and I approached the mentorship program with the sole intention to become a better and stronger instructor. Little did I know, what I was actually doing was finallyopening the flood gates to a community that had been at my fingertips all along. Things moved slowly—per usual because, you know, old habits die hard—but eventually I found myself at the heart center of all that is Bare Feet Power Yoga. Yes, I am teaching and working for this extraordinary studio, but beyond that, I am held, supported, loved and appreciated for everything that I am, exactly as I am, by every person I come across in this community.
I see everything Bare Feet has to offer me and the world SO differently now. This is a place to give and receive love, to be celebrated for who you are, and to be held in all of your vulnerability. The energy of this community is magical and magnetic, inspiring and infinite. That is, of course, if you allow it to be. I look back on the years I closed myself off to the ever-present light and love here at Bare Feet, and I laugh at how silly it was for me to fear something so pure. I know and respect, though, that it was imperative for me to just be where I was at. Had I forced myself to expand out of my protective shell too soon, I would have risked enduring a negative reaction to so much love and positivity. I’ve learned that the Universe plants people, places, and ideas in our life sometimes long before they are able to manifest into their fullest and brightest existence. A dedication to internal awareness, self-love, and patience with the Universe will set the foundation for those pleasant life changing happenings to surface in their own time.
I feel so blessed to be a part of the family here at Bare Feet Power Yoga, and I am deeply humbled by the endless amount of love I have received from the moment I opened my heart to it. I’m grateful for the allowing my spirit’s call to overcome fears rooted in the depths of my being, and for remaining steadfast in my effort to evolve into my most radiant Self. Thank you, BFPY, for seeing me, for hearing me, and for loving me on this journey we call life. I hope for nothing, but to do the same for all of you as a member of this astounding community!
With all of my light and love,