Who in the world wakes up at 5am and drives fifteen minutes to get to a 5:30am class where the instructor walks around to check your breathing, poses, and your posture, and where you push your body to complete exhaustion? Uh, that would be me and the people you see featured in the group photo. Sounds crazy, right? But, oh, how I love it.
First, a few words about Dhawi. When I first met Dhawi, her beauty, sweet demeanor, and mysterious yet inviting personality struck me. Quite honestly, something just attracted me to her. Little did I know upon first meeting her that our life goals are so deeply aligned. We both desire to get to the essence of life. We are both on a journey to push past the subtle narrative that divides us from living in the present, and slipping us into the dark prisons of our past.
Dhawi is a native Indonesian who came to the United States to pursue her college education. She graduated from the University of Toledo, holds a BA in Communication, and in an attempt to find inner balance between working in the corporate world, raising her family, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, Dhawi discovered her love of yoga in 2002. She has been continuously practicing ever since. She received her certification in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and also completed one hundred hours of teacher training in Jivamukti at Yogaja Yoga.
Over the past three years, she has been taking an exclusive journey, studying through mentorship with Taylor Hunt in Columbus—a level II authorized Ashtanga teacher from KPJAYI in Mysore, India. Through direct guidance from her teacher, Taylor, and some intensive workshops, Dhawi continues to practice and now leads Ashtanga Yoga.
Thank God she is on this journey and is allowing me and others to join her. I was so intrigued by Dhawi that I asked if we could meet for coffee and she graciously agreed. We exchanged personal stories of clawing our way through adversities. We laughed, cried, and shared some of our deepest dreams, all in only an hour. We walked away from our time together saying, “We have to do this again.” Since then, I have joined her Ashtanga Yoga class, and the early morning Mysore style class, and I follow her inspiring social media page. One day, she had this to say about her life’s journey:
“Some time ago, I was my own worst enemy. I did not even trust myself to do the things that I know I was really good at. I listened too much to that voice and I trusted its wrong judgment about me. I know it was all in my head but I bowed to this demon for so long who kept telling me I wasn't worthy enough to be as good as I was. Then I started practicing and practicing and practicing some more.
Slowly I could feel the lightness to simply say I am not perfect and I will never be. Slowly I could feel the appreciation of my limitations and the opportunity for bettering myself at the things I know I can. Slowly I was able to listen to my heart more; embracing all the things I am good at, and not good at, all in the same time.
Today, I am humbled to say that the practice (Ashtanga Yoga) with its own brutally honest ways shows me both ugliness and the beautiful sides of me, and it is the only way to keep my stability and honesty in check. I am my own best friend, and I love her.”
Goosebumps just spread all over me when I read this post. Can you see why I always want to be around Dhawi?
In September, I wrote a blog entitled, Breathe Through It, where I talked about why I switched from running so much to yoga. I also talked about the many benefits of yoga and breathing. Now, with nine more months of yoga experience and my connection to Ashtanga Yoga, I am even more convinced that I need to practice yoga for the rest of my life. My joints, ligaments, core, spine, and my overall alignment and strength have exponentially improved.
A recent article describes the practice of Ashtanga Yoga like this: “This breathing technique, combined with vinyāsa and postures, allows the blood to circulate properly, remove toxins and makes the body light and strong. It also automatically corrects internal alignment. When the breath becomes even and smooth, the nervous system is also purified, resulting in a calm mind. This is when transformation through practice becomes possible.”
I am finally connecting to this “transformation in practice” process, and to what Dhawi refers to as its “brutally honest ways.” You slow your mind down enough to recognize disconnections, blockages, and areas that need some honest work. That is why, at times, I find myself, as Dhawi has, breaking down and crying right in the middle of my practice. The article goes on to say, “The quality of the breath and the quality of the mind reflect each other. When breathing is smooth, deep and balanced, the mind tends to be calm and steady.”
As I calm my mind, I connect to God. It is as if I am sitting at his feet, asking him to renew my mind, my heart and my life, all in service to Him, as I serve others.
Dhawi mentioned that she practices as a means to remain vulnerable. She says that the practice of Ashtanga Yoga is like “ripping off the bandage” that unknowingly covers up deep-seated wounds that have been festering for years, “whether you like it or not.” In other words, this practice is challenging. I can certainly attest to that.
It is time you rip the band-aid off whatever is holding you back from getting to the essence of your life. I hope to see you in class one day!
Diana Patton is a Speaker, Social Justice and Integrative Health Advocacy Coach, Author and Attorney. Learn more about her by visiting her website, clicking here to read a free chapter of her book, Inspiration in My Shoes or read more of her articles, here.