On January 1, 2013 I started a journey of doing yoga every single day. I wasn’t sure how long I would keep it up and almost 3 years later I am still on it. This fall I achieved a milestone of practicing yoga 1,000 days in a row. My biggest lesson throughout this journey has become the hardest thing to write about. I was even afraid to put it down on paper. That’s when I knew I really, really needed to write about it.
From the age of twelve I told anyone who asked that I was going to be an actor. When they asked what I would do if that didn’t work out, I simply told them that it would. After I graduated from college in 2009 I moved to Los Angeles searching for that dream. I had no idea how to go about it but I knew that I wanted it. That first year in LA was also when I happened to really discover yoga. While I was searching for a job I was practicing diligently. Maybe not every day but a lot. It became my favorite part of my day. I could get on my mat and all the thoughts going through my head became a blur. Nothing else mattered. On my mat I was invincible.
In the fall of 2012 I was in a huge funk. I let myself make excuse after excuse about not actively pursuing my dream and about not getting on my mat. It was so easy to wake up in the morning and make the decision to curl up and watch an episode or two of a favorite show and skip yoga. And each time I did it became even easier to do the next time. But then one year when I went home for Christmas I made a decision to change all that.
On January 1, 2013 I got on my mat and I made a promise that I would do the same the next day. The next day I flew back to LA and even though I landed at night when it felt far later than it was, I made it to class and I got back on my mat. And the next morning I was back. And I kept going. It became a challenge to myself to keep going. But it was so easy because I was hooked. I had appreciated yoga before but now that I was committed to a daily practice it became even more meaningful. Slowly but surely my yoga practice was becoming the most important part of my life. But I didn’t know it yet.
In my mind I was still pursuing acting. Throughout 2013 I told myself I was still pursuing it. But in thinking that I was still pursuing it, I was lost. I remember very clearly being home for Thanksgiving in 2013 and my mom asked me if acting was what I really wanted to do. I burst into tears. I couldn’t answer that question. She immediately apologized when she saw how upset I was. But that became a theme in our conversation. She would gently bring it up when I wasn’t expecting it and I didn’t want to hear it. But I needed to hear it. I think quite honestly it was what I was thinking but I was afraid to voice it. I was afraid to even think it. I thought that if I changed my mind people would judge me for not being able to succeed at what I said I had always wanted.
All the while I was practicing and getting myself onto my mat every day. If there were days where I wasn’t feeling 100% I would put my legs up the wall or I would do more of a restorative practice. Child’s pose became one of my favorite poses. Even in classes in the studio I would come into it whenever I needed it. I was no longer judging myself if I took it easy. I used to look around the room and be afraid to come down onto my knees because no one else was doing it. But then I discovered that was when I really, really needed it. It didn’t matter what anyone else was doing. And in that same way it really didn’t matter what anyone was thinking.
In February of 2014 I finally started to really let myself think about what would happen if I changed my mind. What if I didn’t want to pursue acting anymore? It was the first time I was actually allowing myself to think those thoughts. Before they had been under lock and key. My mind started to wander about what else I could do. And then I discovered a yoga retreat center that had just opened in my favorite little town in New Zealand. I started to think some out of the box crazy ideas. What if I moved back to New Zealand? I remembered how incredibly happy I had been there when I studied there in spring of 2008. I couldn’t remember a time when I had been happier. Once I started thinking about it I couldn’t stop.
I reached out to Lauren Eckstrom to talk my ideas out and we met the morning of Valentine’s Day 2014. I cried throughout our breakfast together as I let all of my thoughts escape my mouth. They went from thoughts to ideas. All Lauren could ask was when was I getting my ticket. I didn’t have that answer. I told her I needed to consider everything. I knew that she and Travis Eliot were doing a teacher training in a few months and I wanted to consider it. If I went to New Zealand and worked at a retreat center of any kind I would need a training. So I went home and for the next five days considered everything. That next Wednesday I woke up and I knew what I needed to do. I needed to do the teacher training. I waited outside of the studio before Lauren’s class with tears in my eyes and told her I needed to do it. I had made up my mind.
With that decision I knew that I was on a road to learning a lot more about myself. And I was finally ready to let the weight off of my shoulders and tell people that acting was no longer my dream. I wasn’t sure what that dream was but I knew it was shifting. And the fact that I didn’t have an answer was ok.
The next eleven weeks were life altering. Slowly but surely layers peeled away and I discovered my teaching voice. It was a voice I never even considered. My whole life I had observed my mother as a Montessori teacher and when people had suggested that I pursue teaching I would tell them that it wasn’t for me. My mother is an incredible teacher and I have so, so much to thank her for. Among many things I learned how much patience shows up in teaching. Most of all with yourself.
Over the last year and a half beyond my training I have developed my teaching voice more and more and have peeled many more layers away. I have learned how vital it is to be vulnerable. Our vulnerability allows us to really question what we do and do not want. In that vulnerability I learned that it was ok to change my mind. It was ok to switch my dream. Nothing is permanent and change is constant. Yoga teaches me day in and day out that life is constantly evolving. There are always going to be days that are hard and days that feel easy but that is the beauty of life. I know that I still have so much left to learn but instead of being afraid of that, I am embracing it. And I am going to keep stepping back on my mat every single day. There is always more to learn and day in and day out that is what my practice shows me. And when the time is right I will make it back to New Zealand.
By Marielle Ebersol: Yogi. Teacher. Dream Chaser