In life, the truth is, some people won’t understand you. Let me tell you that I have encountered a lot of backlash and pushback for simply being myself, a yogi that is. Sometimes I get funny looks or comments about why I practice yoga, eat what I eat, or believe in certain things. It’s like asking me why the sky is blue. I don’t have that answer all the time, but I know I have to express myself because it’s in my spirit. The spirit is alive and well, you have to feed it. Let it grow into the full potential it deserves. It has given me the positive attitude that I have and I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I don’t mind being different. I don’t mind expressing who I am at the core. I don’t let the funny looks and inquiries cause me to question myself. Hell, Beyonce doesn’t even do interviews anymore! 

To be anything but myself would mean that I set out to satisfy YOUR expectations for YOUR love, gratitude, and appreciation. That is simply not me. I can’t allow negativity to infiltrate the mind, and truthfully it starts at a young age. Doing yoga has been a major journey for me during the last five years. In the beginning there were so many insecurities that I had. But slowly through my practice, I have learned how to MOVE past it. 

The only way to move past fear is to acknowledge your insecurities. Say them out loud and then visualize yourself doing what you’re most afraid to do. Keep visualizing. The universe is always on your side. The pushback you receive is nothing but a crashing wave; it dissipates because it has no substance or validity. 

My past insecurities:

  • Not having the flexibility or ability to keep up in the class, I was always out of breath.

  • Honestly, because of what I saw in the media and on television, I felt like I couldn’t fit in at all in this world of “yoga”. Sometimes yoga in the media can be portrayed as a world of white women who have fit bodies and are genetically gifted. Standing in a room sticking out like a sore thumb, darker skin, different features, I thought would be a distraction. Everyone seemed to be in the best shape, wore expensive athletic wear, kept to themselves.

  • I didn’t know the terminology or meaning of certain yoga vocabulary, it seemed like a foreign language. Ashtanga what? Salvasana who? 

  • None of my peers were doing yoga so I was really on my own in learning about the practice. I wasn’t sure if I could really motivate myself. 

The mat to me has become my indestructible mini laboratory. At times I feel like I get to be a mad scientist, experimenting with various poses and expressing my creativity. It’s where I go to seek discipline, solace, and mental strength. Now I embrace my differences and don’t mind striking up conversations anytime or anyplace about what I’ve learned. But the question is how did I realize my potential? How did I get to the point where I had to GET MINE? I changed my mindset. I began to train myself to think in a new way. 

“You have to look deeper, way below the anger, the hurt, the hate, the jealousy, the self-pity, way down deeper where the dreams lie, son. Find your dream. It's the pursuit of the dream that heals you.” - Billy Mills (father), Oglala Lakota

My present-day mindset:

  • Your thoughts can be just as dangerous to you as your "enemies and nay-sayers". Subconscious thought is sneaky and subtle. You have to be aware of the “noise” and actively work to PUSH IT OUT. Close your ears, your ears don’t know any better. Your brain does. 

  • Don’t get offended when others question you, think of it as an opportunity to educate and expose their mind to something new. It can be annoying, but they just don't know.

  • “When you know better, you do better.” – Maya Angelou

  • How hungry are you? How bad do you want it? The days I don’t step into the studio, I ask myself if I truly need a rest day or if I’m just feeling lazy. Usually it’s the latter. My day starts at 6:30 AM and I don’t leave work until about 6 PM, therefore I fight traffic for an hour to make it to class by 7 PM. I really have to push myself to get my ass to class just by asking how bad I want it. 

  • Kobe Bryant, Muhammad Ali, Manny Pacquiao, and my dad are all inspirations to me. The one thing that comes to mind is WORK ETHIC. In my mind, no one works harder than them. 

  • “Everything negative - pressure, challenges - is all an opportunity for me to rise.” – Kobe Bryant

  • Others have less than me, some people are severely ill, some children live in war-torn areas, some people are fighting to keep me free. All I have to do is wake up and be productive.