The 2 Sides

Just as there are always two sides to every story, two faces to every coin - there are two parts to every person.  There is the face we put on for the world to see; the shiny, well polished and expertly crafted variation of you.  On the flip side of that coin, there is the face, whether we know it or not, that comes through while practicing yoga; the more authentic variation of you. The person we put forth to others, is very often a similar variation of who we personally think we are.  This is a beautiful painting of ourselves that we've toiled over for years, decades.  It is a fabric we've weaved throughout the years of being who we are.  The threads are our life experiences, our family background, our history, our past and current jobs, our past and current relationships (romantic and otherwise), our interests, our hobbies, our travel destinations, our possessions, our clothes and on and on.  Each thread is held together by our beliefs which push the shuttle back and forth, in and out, between each thread binding the fabric together, creating patterns and shapes - the believes that we uphold about who we are, about what we're doing here on this earth, about the meaning of our life - the stories we tell ourselves.

The other face, the flip side of that coin, is our true nature, our Self (s capitalized on purpose), our Atman, our soul.  The essence of who we are that comes through when we quiet down the machine of our mind weaving story after story.  This face is the piece of us that never changes, that is consistent throughout our entire life.  The part of you that makes you uniquely you from the moment your born until the moment you take your last precious breath.  The yogis say that we practice yoga in order to find this face, this side of ourselves.  When we reside in the Self, we find peace, and endless bliss.  The 3rd sutra in the 1st chapter of the Yoga Sutras states "Then the seer [Self] abides in His own nature."  "You are that true Seer.  You are not the body, nor the mind.  You are the Knower or Seer."

One thing I find so fascinating about teaching a yoga class is the disparity between how I understand and see my students during their practice and how I see them before and after class starts and finishes.  During practice their true nature shines.  During practice, I can see all.  Once class finishes, everyone seems to return to their 1st face, the face that meets the world and declares "I am an executive at Nike".  The same woman who seemed peaceful and in tune with her body can then jut out her chest and declare herself to me after class in such a way that I hardly recognize her.  Who is this woman?  She is so different than the woman at the back of the class who forgot her mat so just calmly laid out a sarong and breathed deeply as she moved with grace and ease as if to a tune playing inside her own head.

I suppose in this life, we are really both sides of the coin.  An integrated person, who puts on appropriate clothing to suit the occasion.  But it's the coming into touch, no matter how briefly, with the flip side of the coin, the capital S version of our Selves that in my humble opinion makes life precious.  That is the reason for our time here on earth.