Our yoga practice on the mat mirrors how we live our life off of the mat. Applying #GoYourOMWay to yoga means that we all come to the mat for different reasons, but we all stay for the same one. Despite why we initially discovered yoga, we are united by our search to fully connect with our highest self, to be courageous enough to live our truth and to live a life with purpose. It’s not for the faint of heart!
The yogic path is a journey to live up to our full potential and to be brave enough to buck convention. Seeking our truth means being willing to fail. Being willing to try on different hats and to remain dedicated despite huge obstacles. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali stated that the path is simple, but not easy. He couldn’t be more correct.
When I fell in love with yoga back in 1999, I had no clue. I’m not going to pretend that my first few years practicing Ashtanga yoga were about anything but the physical benefits. I was a recovering attorney seeking a life with meaning outside of the corporate rat race that I despised. Practicing yoga helped tame my Type-A personality. Without consciously trying, I became a little softer, kinder, and happier. The light of connection between body, mind and spirit began to dawn on me.
Understanding this connection on the mat helped me acknowledge some of my own behavior patterns personally and professionally. Recognition led to acceptance. My people pleasing tendencies started young. So, despite loving writing and health and fitness, I jumped into a career that was practical. Or, so I mistakenly believed.
If you could find the opposite of following your bliss, you’ve got practicing law for me. Every aspect of it chafed against my heart and soul. So, after three years of litigation, I quit.
People thought I was insane after investing three years and $100,000 in school. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my identity. I had a pattern of switching gears anytime something wasn’t working for me. In those days, I didn’t understand what I was seeking.
Leaving law led to a flurry of careers over the next decade: outside corporate software sales, running an animal rescue charity for a Hollywood actress, pet-sitting, personal trainer, you name it. Again, I was searching for my true self that I’d buried along the way. Despite external pressures to conform, I never gave up and believe me I was tempted.
Finally, teaching yoga clicked. Gradually, I shed the layers I’d accumulated over the years to please people. I committed to listening to my heart, to the wisdom within. When I was my truest self, other people with whom I truly resonated began to appear.
I realized yoga is about uncovering your authentic self. About polishing off all the layers obscuring your true beauty and once again shining as brightly as you did the moment you were born. We’ve all got different life stories, different families and communities in which we were raised, different obstacles to overcome.
Today I’m proud to say I stuck to my heart’s desires and am living a life that is true to me. It’s been a long, winding path with lots of twists, turns, failures and joys. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Photo Credit: Micaela Malmi
Claire Petretti-Marti has been practicing, studying, and teaching yoga since 1999. Like many fitness enthusiasts, she was initially drawn to yoga for its physical benefits of strength, balance, and flexibility. Once Claire realized that serenity, peace of mind, and a general sense of happiness were predominant results of the practice, she was hooked.
A RYT-500 Yoga Alliance instructor, Claire teaches a dynamic vinyasa flow with the intention of creating a moving meditation. She encourages students to find the lightness and the joy in their own practice, both on and off the mat. She is a certified Pilates instructor, a Reiki Level 2 Practitioner and also holds a NASM-certification for personal training. She has significant experience with spinal injuries and frequently works with students recuperating from injuries. She leads international yoga retreats every year. Mind-body fitness is her passion.
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