Why I Strala
Not one day after completing* the Strala Yoga Ready-to-Lead training and posting up this fun photo with Tara and Mike, the founders of Strala, did I receive a text from an old family friend:
"Did you get certified as a yoga instructor?"
Why, yes, I suppose I did. Word choice is tricky, though. Words evoke images and expectations, and I am here to say that Strala defies most peoples' expectations of what yoga is.
My whole life has changed since I started practicing yoga -- in a good way. And when your life changes in a good way, don't you want to delve deeper into the catalysts?
Was Strala the reason my life changed? Of course not. What Strala does so well, however, is provide for people a safe place to introspect and carefully examine things. The main theme of the Strala method is to pay attention to how you feel -- and then trust those feelings. This gave me lots of time to observe how I thought, why it seemed so difficult to trust my instincts at times, and blew major insight into how I had come to many of my life’s decisions. Regularly practicing yoga meant I was no longer ignoring myself, but finally listening carefully to what was important to me.
If you know me, you'd know that for a long while, I was studying for the CPA exam. And before that, I was talking about studying for the CPA exam. I went to college too young to care much about anything, and somehow left with two degrees in hand -- one of them being in accounting. This was partly due to a great professor I had at Georgia Tech, but mainly because of the steady stream of jobs in the accounting field. By January 2012, I had passed three out of four sections of the exam, and was gearing up to cram for the last and largest part. It felt like I had to move a mountain in a very short amount of time, and just as I was wrapping up my first busy season, a DailyCandy deal for Strala Yoga popped up.
I'd heard of Tara and Mike in my nominal research of yoga studios in the city. If you’re ever on the Internet, you’ve probably seen Tara. And Mike is usually right there with her. I had taken three weeks off from work (the intention was to study for the last CPA exam) and was ready to incorporate yoga into my new city life. Why pay for a shrink (so needed), a gym membership (kind of needed), and a masseuse (really wanted) every month when you can knock so much of that out with a great yoga session? The monthly special came at an incredibly timely manner for me.
Some people come to Strala and say, "WOW! That really blew my mind!" but I really had no prior yoga consistency to compare my experience with. I didn't have some out of body spiritual experience only to return with my life’s purpose in hand. Yes, the yoga part was great. And really, the culture was fantastic. All I needed to know in evaluating whether to return came down to three things: (1) the people were breezy cool, (2) I had a month to take advantage of, and (3) I actually liked going! What else was there to think about? After I had been showing up regularly for some time, Mike one day half-jokingly challenged me to start attending four classes a week there. "Then you'll really start to feel the difference," he said.
Well, if you haven't met Mike, he's pretty convicting…so I thought to myself, "Challenge accepted!"
Regular yoga practitioners of any style will tell you that how you are in your yoga practice is how you are in your life, and at Strala, the psychology of your yoga is everything. I found the more I practiced there, the more I began to value my own feelings. It's not that I never knew my feelings -- but it had become second nature to dismiss them. We ignore things we hope to will into nonexistence. And as for life paths, we defer to the catalogue of pre-selected career tracks we feel we’re mandated to pick from, or a template of a life we're supposed to lead. We buy into the lies of this world. Pretty soon, those worldly lies become the framework of our realities.
I left my cushy corporate job with the nice career trajectory this past May. The disconnect between my feelings and my day-to-day life had become too large to ignore. This was a terrifying decision to make, which took lots of time and patience to even consider. It boiled down to being tired of living my life with a fearful inner dialogue. This ultimately meant everything I was planning for, boasting in, and pumping my ego up over needed a reset. Really, it’s really not such a bad thing to eat a slice of humble pie from time to time.
Attending the Strala Ready-to-Lead training was a natural part of this undoing process. It was to further my own understanding of how their practice in the power of ease has trickled into my daily decision-making process. It was be with, every weekend, people who lead their own inspiring and innovative lives. It was to practice freedom, fun, happiness -- and to keep going with a psychology that has truly worked for me.
So to the old friend who followed up his first text with:
“What’s your favorite pose? Can you twist and bind with your hands? I need to get better at my twists.”
I really, really look forward to having some yoga fun with you. :)
*pretty sure this is just the beginning, friends.