Hubris

Yin, Yang, Yogini

Kathryn E. Livingston, Weekly Hubris banner

“When I think of what my Yoga teachers have imparted this year, and especially Jill and Ali, I realize that they’ve helped me—and the poses have helped me—to somehow accept (I’d like to say embrace, but I’m not quite there, yet) change. Maybe it’s something to do with the movements: the Cat and then the Cow, the twist to the left and then to the right, the reaching up, and then bending to the ground, the constant training of the body to move one way, and then to move in the opposite way. Hatha: sun, moon opposites, dark and light, yin and yang.”—Kathryn E. Livingston

Words & Wonder

By Kathryn E. Livingston

Yin, Yang, Yogini: A Woman's Quest for Balance, Strength and Inner Peace, by Kathryn E. Livingston
Yin, Yang, Yogini: A Woman’s Quest for Balance, Strength, and Inner Peace, by Kathryn E. Livingston

Kathryn E. Livingston, Weekly Hubris

BOGOTA New Jersey—(Hubris)—June & July 2024—Editor’s Note: At the age of 50, author, parenting expert, and former Huffington Post blogger Kathryn E. Livingston thought everything in her life should be clicking into place. Instead, she felt like she was falling apart. She was consumed by panic and anxiety, neglecting her body; always expecting the worst . . . until her discovery of Yoga helped her find peace. What follows here is a chapter from the memoir Livingston wrote about two transformative years in her life, an account of her relationship with a compassionate teacher who taught her to trust herself and the universe, even while facing the death of her parents, her children leaving home for college, and breast cancer. It’s about recognizing the mind-body connection and finding the way back to mental and physical health. Above all, Yin, Yang, Yogini: A Woman’s Quest for Balance, Strength, and Inner Peace is a memoir about reinvention, with Yoga as the backdrop for change—a blueprint for evolving in midlife and in midstride, learning to let go of the past, and living with trust in the present moment. 

The author at peace, Mind Over Madness Yoga Day, NYC, The Solstice 2023.
The author at peace, Mind Over Madness Yoga Day, NYC, The Solstice, 2018.

Today, as if she knows I’ve been coming to Yoga for exactly one year, trying to figure out what it’s all about, Jill opens the class by saying, “Why do we come to Yoga? We are here to forget. We come to forget the chatter in our minds, and the doubts and fears and worries, and to put everything aside and go to a quiet place. And . . . we come to remember; to remember that we are perfect, that we are born perfect, without flaws and self-doubts.”

She sums it up nicely, precisely what I’ve been trying to figure out this past year. Of course, I do know we come to forget—at least, that’s the outcome. But it’s not as if I purposely slip into my Yoga capris and camisole and run out to escape the dirty dishes, and my children’s problems, and the memory of my mother’s death, and all my troubles. But that’s what happens, if only for an hour. So she’s right about that; yoga is a clear way out of the mind’s jungle.

During our practice, we arrive at a quiet, resting Child’s Pose, and as I close my eyes I think fondly of Aaron; he’s home from college now, but one day he’ll be moving to his own apartment. He’s interviewing for jobs, and when I see him dressed in a suit, driving down our street in his car, I can only imagine that before I know it he’ll be getting married, and having children, and building a life of his own. Change: the thing I fear so much.

When I think of what my Yoga teachers have imparted this year, and especially Jill and Ali, I realize that they’ve helped me—and the poses have helped me—to somehow accept (I’d like to say embrace, but I’m not quite there, yet) change. Maybe it’s something to do with the movements: the Cat and then the Cow, the twist to the left and then to the right, the reaching up, and then bending to the ground, the constant training of the body to move one way, and then to move in the opposite way. Hatha: sun, moon opposites, dark and light, yin and yang. This must be key in the way yoga shapes the mind and heart, in the way it helps one to understand that every movement has a counter movement, that every action has an opposing action, that the happy parts of life will be met by the sad, and the sad, in turn will be met by the happy. 

The author in Tree Pose, NYC, The Solstice 2023.
The author in Tree Pose, NYC, The Solstice, 2023.

In the past, I was always running or hiding from the sadness: death, loss, leaving, darkness, change. I was so afraid of all these things that I feared them more than I valued life, giving, receiving, light. I was guided by fear, and, most of my decisions—to write or to teach, to take certain assignments or not, to travel, to step anywhere outside the zone of familiarity and comfort—were the byproducts of my belief that “No, I cannot do that”—whatever that was. But I now see the glimmer of possibility that one day I will be at the front of the line, that one day I won’t be guided by fear and self-doubt, but by the strength within my own heart.

“Let’s do Tree Pose!” Jill suggests. “We’ll hold 20 breaths on each foot.”

We ease into our positions, our arms outstretched to the sky like branches, one knee bent as we balance. Jill counts aloud. Some of us topple over after five seconds, some last 15, and some of us—myself included—stand still and strong up to the close of 40 breaths.

I want to be standing tall, my hands in prayer position, unafraid and holding my own in life, and after this first year of Yoga, I actually feel I am on my way.

In the back of my mind, however, is that niggling little Iceberg Theory I’ve concocted. It’s often when things seem most right with the world that the ice can begin to crack. 

More: To read more of Kathryn E. Livingston’s work, write her at livwrite@yahoo.com, or order her books, click here,  and here.

Books by Kathryn Livingston
Books by Kathryn Livingston.

Yin, Yang, Yogini: A Woman’s Quest for Balance, Strength, and Inner Peace is available at Amazon.com or through your favorite bookseller!

Books by Kathryn E. Livingston.

Kathryn E. Livingston was born in Schenectady, New York and lived there in a stick-style Victorian house until she left for Kirkland College (the short-lived women’s coordinate college of Hamilton College in small-town Clinton, New York). In l975, with her BA in English/Creative Writing, she moved to New Paltz to become first a waitress at an Italian restaurant, and then a community newspaper reporter. A few years later, she married a classical clarinetist she had met in high school and moved to Manhattan (Washington Heights), beginning a job as a trade magazine editor the day after their wedding. A few years later, after picking up an MA in English/Education at Hunter College, she became an editor at the visually stunning American Photographer. Motherhood (three sons) eventually brought her to suburban New Jersey, close enough for her husband to moped home for dinner between rehearsal and performance at the New York City Opera. Between baby diaper changes and boys’ homework assignments, Livingston toiled as a freelance writer on the topic of motherhood for numerous mainstream magazines. She also co-authored several parenting books, several photography books, and eventually wrote a memoir of her anxiety-ridden but charmed life and her path to Yoga: Yin, Yang, Yogini: A Woman’s Quest for Balance, Strength and Inner Peace (Open Road Media, 2014). With the kids now grown, and the husband still playing notes, Kathryn enjoys fiddling with words, writing her blog, puttering in her garden, and teaching the occasional Yoga class. (Author Photo: John Isaac/Author Head Shot Augment: René Laanen.)

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