Some of you know I recently turned 50. It was my most celebrated birthday ever. I felt like a celebrity who spent an entire month having parties and presents. Though understandably, I might pass a milestone birthday with a touch of melancholy, that isn’t how I am experiencing my half-century mark. In fact, I feel like I am just getting started, armed with enthusiasm and experience, ready for what is to come.
I wasn’t always this way. As a child, I was painfully shy. When you see any photographs of me through many of my early years, apprehension matched with cautious curiosity is evident to anyone. I most often held a receding posture. My mother tells stories of all she did to push me out of the cocoon I kept myself in. She took a job in the school where I would attend kindergarten, hoping I would agree to take part in the school day. Gymnastics became my sport. My mother reasoned that I must stand up and be measured on my own merits without a team to hide behind. I grew knowing how I felt most comfortable wouldn’t work as a life strategy. I mainly experienced this feeling as though shyness was something that was wrong with me and needed to be fixed. Comfortable was not ok.
I stumbled into owning a yoga studio. It began as a hobby where I was very naive, overfunded, and under-experienced. Evolution Power Yoga’s growth and development have closely mirrored my own. When I experience a surge of personal achievement or a period of retreat, the years have shown the business does too with an intensity to match my own. In black and white on a spreadsheet, the peaks and valleys of both class attendance and business income correlate to periods where I gained access to a deeper part of myself and, conversely, to low times when I struggled.
One low point came early on. Two years into owning a studio and being a mother to three young daughters, I was ready to quit. I didn’t have to work at the time, and if anything, my family needed me at home. Somehow though, the seeds my mother had planted so patiently over the years found the resource to germinate in my role as steward of three little girls. I just knew it was essential to be a role model and show them who I am as an individual matters equally to who I commit to being as a mother. This realization was a great awakening.
Finding a New Way
Around the same time, I met yoga instructor Baron Baptiste, whose teaching style was growing in notoriety and emerging as a leading training program. I felt a new sense of direction and dedicated my studies to what would have the most profound impact on Evolution Power Yoga and me. I was learning to open my eyes to a whole new way of living my life. For example, I discovered I did not have to define myself as shy. I could give that up. No longer did I have to manage and suppress the limiting self-judgment. I could be free. I was learning, living, and teaching tools that worked for me and could work for anyone who has an energy for something new in their lives. Best of all, I found myself exceeding my presumption of who I could be as a role model and mother.
I only had one studio at the time, and it was thriving. I needed to be around people interested in this work for themselves, and they needed to be around me. A community was born. Whether in my role with Baptiste Yoga or as the individual responsible for this emerging community, I was out beyond the space of the retreating young girl I had been. Necessity was the path; we all needed the opportunity to come in for exercise and leave with a newfound sense of self, up to being the best person for those who matter to us in our lives. Nothing began with a plan, only a north star to follow any opportunity to make the practice available.
Identifying my North Star
Throughout my life, I have had a sense of doing great things. Though I might not have formal instruction in the proper way of doing some things, I felt I could always make a pathway to get the result or achieve something better. I can see where I learned this sense of resilience and resourcefulness from my parents, and it led to something more. Their foundation and the ability my yoga practice gave me to boldly create new realities according to what is important to me in my life all added up to what became most important to me. My daughters have what the system calls learning disabilities and what we now know to be a gift. They only solve problems by inventing solutions rather than following the formula. In helping them understand themselves, I found another aspect of myself, freeing me again.
I know not to micromanage people. My deep curiosity for how people create and give meaning to their lives innately has me stay out the way. I am attracted to forming worlds where people can work together, linking their dreams to manifest something we would never have managed alone. This kind of living has a feeling of free-fall but in a good way! There is no safety in the comfort zone here, and everything is at stake. Dreams are on the line. My history and Evolution Power Yoga’s have proven that this is the only way to live; collaborating, dreaming, and creating. Everything else is a form of dying.
You Don’t Always Need an Answer
Over the years, at different stages in the growth of Evolution Power Yoga, people have asked me, “Where is this going? What is the ultimate goal?”
I don’t understand why we always have to know that. I believe in vision and goal-setting practices, and I know they can be limiting. The very notion of a defined goal is, in its definition, a limit. I prefer to use these practices as waypoints to an undefined destiny, moving toward an increasing feeling of completion or satisfaction. To simplify, consider it a cosmic version of the guessing game, hot and cold. It has always worked for me to be guided by a felt sense of direction than a map. Consistently, when I suppress or betray this sense, the ending is always a disappointment. Whether or not a person can identify with it, I believe everyone has this capacity to move toward their unique destiny in this way. I know yoga, and meditation practice accelerates the accuracy of the felt sense as a guide. The slogan common to many yoga rooms, “Practice 3 times a week to change your body, 5 times a week to change your life,” takes on a more urgent meaning within this application.
A Path Forward
So where are we going? I have always believed in a version of evolution wherein each person is wholly unique. Therefore, for any one of us to be complete, each person has to have access to creating their life as though something is at stake; who they are matters. This notion is the north star. I now see it has been the north star in raising my daughters. You might now see Evolution Power Yoga newly with this north star in mind. Choices made, direction followed perhaps make more sense. I consider it a fundamental human right to have access to wellness tools: movement as a practice of presence, stillness to create space and know yourself, and the freedom of inquiry to always be in the discovery of the unfolding depth of who you are.
My own unfolding experience of life is enriched by being in the practice and sharing it with others. Ultimately, we choose our path in every moment, whether by default or as a creation, continually freeing ourselves of limiting perceptions. As a service, I can’t create anything in or for another. I can only offer to share the tools I know and celebrate the act of creating with no expectation of an outcome. One of my favorite authors, Don Miguel Ruiz, wrote The Voice of Knowledge. (note: listen to the audio version for a beautiful rendition) In this book, he celebrates the understanding we are each an artist creating our lives. What there is to do is appreciate the art of another, nothing more.
As I share ideas and direction for this writing with my daughter, Scarlett, she has a few suggestions to complete the story. One request is, “What do you want to tell your younger self?” This question is interesting. I consider myself so different from the self I knew growing up. She was afraid. While being fearful and alone can still show up unexpectedly, I have new mastery of these emotions. I would tell my younger self that you have all you need to feel what there is to feel when you are scared and feeling unsafe. You can handle the waves of these emotions and still stay on your feet, present, advocating for your dreams, and being heard. You don’t have to force a smile or a laugh, numb the feelings, or hide from them.
Continuing my Journey
Looking back to look forward, I want to live in a world where people can handle difficult things with grace, having the full human experience of the circumstances of life but somehow rising above rather than below.
I’ll do this by showing up for my work and sharing what I have discovered with others.
I’ll be present in difficult situations and listen for what is not being said but wants to be.
I will admire the creation of other artists and offer my artistry the same sense of wonder.
I won’t always get it right, but with practice, my felt sense will grow brighter each day, and I will live the life of purpose I am meant to live for the next 50 years.
Written by Lisa Taylor: Female Business Owner, World-Class Yoga Instructor, and Owner and Founder of Evolution Power Yoga