by Joanna D.


You know it’s going to be rough when you realize your arms aren’t working properly. Every step, every motion (even the simple ones) are abnormally effortful and your mind hasn’t quite caught up to the fact that your so depleted you can barely speak. Then it hits you… “I’m sick and this could be bad.”

On arrival to Mysore, I was already feeling the effects of a long and awful car ride from Bangalore. The dreaded four hour drive, mid-day like a smart lady, with an alright but far from good driver brought the familiar back pain to a full on assault. Forward, backward, twist… None were accessible. Even sitting or laying down was terrible. Tenderly I went about my first few days, gentle, alert, breath-focused rhythm — slowly.

Then the fever hit. My flesh, burning to the touch, as goosebumps crept over every inch of skin. Getting to the toilet and back to the bed was all I could manage in an effort to win the battle for survival. I don’t think I’m gonna make it. After thirty-six hours of sliding in and out of consciousness I laid on the floor and tried to relax my body on the cool marble tiles, (- crazy how in our most vulnerable moments we get hit with epiphanies -) and it struck me — “I’ve been scrambling to ‘be somebody’ and it just doesn’t feel right.”

I’ve been out here, traveling around, jockeying for a place to belong while spreading myself thin, depleting my resources and decimating my energy stores. Granted, these have been some incredible times with some truly beautiful people, and I feel genuinely blessed to have been out here sharing in all this. I don’t regret for one moment any of my experiences out here. The fact is though, I’m tired. Grasping, clawing at something I’m not meant to attain… I’ve been trying to be bigger then I’m meant to be. It took a lot to admit that to myself. Expelling all this effort, striving to scrape up enough teaching opportunities – over here and over there – to support myself and share this lineage I’ve been witness to and discovered over years of study… and it’s killing me.

There is a bulging disc in my lower spine that’s pressing into my nerve centers. Admittedly, I don’t know exactly what it all means and Gods know how long it’s been there, but it’s likely one of the stronger roots to this reoccurring road block called chronic pain. It’s a horrible thing to live with. Especially when what you love to do is move and breathe and share it with those who could use some healing of their own. It’s telling me that I haven’t been listening. That this constant travel and grasping at opportunities is not my dharma. I am not meant to be out here spreading thin my power, depleting my energy trying to be something I’m not. I’m meant to put down roots and cultivate a forest.

My dharma is to discover and revel in self-love. I am destined to BE MYSELF and be strong in who that is. I don’t have to try and be someone I’m not, I don’t have to ache to be seen, I don’t have to fit into someone else’s mold. My dharma is to build a loving space and strengthen bonds with my friends who support this effort. My dharma is to surround myself with a loving supportive COMMUNITY so I can let my walls down and allow myself to be loved too. My dharma is to GIVE EVERYTHING of myself, to share this yoga from a coffer FULL of bhakti and deep love for its gifts. Ashtanga yoga, hatha yoga. Breath. My dharma is to teach what I know; what I’ve learned from my teacher and from my own depth of self-study, TO AND WITHIN, a community of people who love and support the same ideas. My dharma is to stand still, stand tall and gather myself up to not just survive this life, but to LIVE it fully and completely.