Please meet Jen Priore. She is Mind Body Flow Yoga’s featured student for this month’s newsletter. Jen has a beautiful yoga practice and was generous in sharing it with us, as she demonstrates Eagle Pose (Garudasana).
Mind Body Flow Yoga’s Very Own Jen Priore
I started thinking about the possibility of practicing yoga a little over two years ago. I found that at seemingly random times, I’d be in situations where people around me would be talking about yoga, or I’d notice yoga studios as I was driving throughout my day, or yoga would cross paths with my career as part of a treatment approach as a Pediatric Physical Therapist.
I realize now that I was seeing something that was there all along, but only because I was ready to see it.
But me practice yoga?
No, I didn’t do yoga…because I wasn’t flexible enough, or patient enough, nor tolerant of heat….and so on and so forth.
However, one of the many things that this practice has opened my eyes to is that those were just stories in my head, written by me, packaged up neatly by me, and sold to me by me.
It took me about six months of experiencing these ‘yogic coincidences’ before I stepped through the doors of MBFY. What finally got me there was not because I suddenly had this surge of confidence that I could do it, but rather I was trying to find a solution to help one of my daughters who struggles with behavioral and learning challenges.
Essentially, cognizant of this or not, I was trying to “fix” her.
The mom in me was battling the Physical Therapist in me, but both sides of me were going to fix her, and that was that!
The way this story ends is that yoga did not show me how to fix her. In fact, none of what I am about to write has anything to do with how I’ve fixed any of her challenges. All of those same struggles exist.
In fact, at times, the challenges seem worse than ever. But now, because of this practice, I’ve been able to see the stories for what they are, and more importantly, for what they aren’t.
They aren’t truth.
This realization has opened me up to other possibilities, not only for myself but for her as well.
After about six months of nurturing a frequent practice, I remember thinking that I really got this yoga thing down; that I had seen what it was really all about.
The reality is, the asanas or movements was what I thought constituted the “flow” that the yoga teachers spoke to. After practicing a bit more, I thought I realized that movement coupled with breath, was what yoga was all about. Now I really had it down!
Then after about a year of practice, I entered into yoga teacher training where I began to see a weekend at a time, a book at a time, that connecting breath with the movement was really just the tip of the iceberg.
I began to see I didn’t truly understand or appreciate all that this practice affords me because I wasn’t looking at it off the mat.
Off the mat, I began to see that at 40 years old, I wasn’t in love with myself or in love with my life. I suppose this stemmed from striving to be some perfect and completely unrealistic version of myself in all of my various roles.
I had conjured up this story of an “ideal” version of myself. Setting myself up for ultimate failure in not being in acceptance of my imperfections.
For me, not loving myself showed up in many different ways, from pushing myself beyond what I am physically or emotionally ready to manage, to engaging in negative and destructive self-talk.
One day while holding Warrior 2 in practice, Marina said something along the lines of, “Consider for a minute that your practice is perfect as it is right now.” In response to her comment, in my mind I started down the deeply embedded thought pattern of,
“Of course, my practice isn’t good enough…there’s so much I can’t do.”
It was at that moment that a saying I knew I had read somewhere popped into my head.
It was an old Zen saying stating “Wherever you go, there you are,” and I had read this months earlier in Baron Baptiste’s book “Being of Power.”
At the time, those words meant nothing to me, because I wasn’t ready to hear them. Wherever you go, there you are. Then I started to hear my current yoga teacher training instructor, Karen Torrone, say as she frequently had,
“Where else does that show up for you?”
It was then that I realized I had been carrying around this story in my head that I wasn’t good enough at yoga, or a lot of different things such as parenting, because obviously if I was, then I would have been able to help my daughter by now.
It was a STORY.
And if I was telling stories about myself, I was telling stories about others, including my daughter.
At first, I was really saddened at the realization that I wasn’t in love with myself. I wanted to be!
Slowly and through self-inquiry and reflection, I began to shift my focus to the practice of self-love and self-acceptance.
Yoga has shown me that I don’t ALWAYS have to be a work in progress….that it’s enough to be “me.”
I’m not quite as hard on myself anymore to be superwoman in every aspect of my life. I’m learning to drop the story in my head that I did this wrong, or didn’t do it well enough or fast enough, or that I didn’t accomplish as much as I wanted.
Yoga has allowed me to experience a sense of being enough.
I can see that I am enough, today, right now in all I can do and in all I’m unable to do. That my successes are enough and that even my failures are successes in what those situations have taught me.
This self-acceptance and self-love have allowed me to see that others, most importantly my daughter, is also enough and that she is already being the best version of herself that she can be.
There’s NOTHING to fix, and my feelings that brought me to yoga to fix her were really just a reflection of what I felt was needed for myself.
The best thing about enough is that enough will always be perfect.
Yoga has shown me that falling in love with your life can be work.
The work isn’t in fixing it, but rather in loving it for all that it is and all that it isn’t.
That’s my work right now, both on and off the mat, and that work is perfect and it’s enough as is.
Leave a comment below. What stood out to you in the testimonial? What significant experience have you had in your yoga journey?
What is this Pose About?
This is a standing, balancing pose. The resulting shape is a deep opening through the ankles, calves, thighs, hips, shoulders, and upper back. Watch Jen enter into this asana from Mountain Pose (Tadasana). She will exit the pose and land back in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) as well.
Here are a few things to keep in mind, if you decide to try this pose, or if you have already started to experiment and play around with it.
Tips for Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
- From Mountain pose, stretch your arms straight forward, parallel to the floor, and spread your scapulas wide across the back of your torso. Cross the arms in front of your torso so that the right arm is above the left, then bend your elbows. Place the right elbow into the crook of the left, and raise the forearms to shoulder height. The backs of your hands should be facing each other.
- Press the right hand to the right and the left hand to the left, so that the palms are now facing each other. The thumb of the right hand should pass in front of the little finger of the left. Now press the palms together (as much as is possible for you), lift your elbows up, and stretch the fingers toward the ceiling.
- Bend your knees slightly, lift your left foot up and while balancing on your right foot, cross your left thigh high over the right. Flex your left toes, press the foot back, and then hook the top of the foot behind the lower right calf. Balance on the right foot.
- Stay for 3 – 5 breaths, then unwind the legs and arms and stand in Tadasana again. Repeat for the same length of time with the arms and legs reversed.
- Strengthens and stretches the ankles and calves
- Stretches the thighs, hips, shoulders, and upper back
- Improves concentration
- Improves sense of balance
- Students with knee injuries should avoid this pose, or practice it only with the big toe of the raised-leg’s foot against the floor, to help maintain your balance.
Have you tried this pose before? What has been your experience?