an autobiography of a 21st century yogi

 

Aloha. My friends call me TA, Big Al, Pman, Alfonso Grande, or just Alex. Slowly but surely, the universe has nudged me to share my stories so I've launched this online presence to megaphone the moment and to share my feelings and thoughts on the yoga of life--of breathing into the present, all day e'ry day.

What does that mean? Conscious breaths are the pavers in our yellow brick road to ecstatic living. To be conscious of our breath means we are aware and fully in the moment at hand. To be completely present is real bliss and is the stuff that everlasting happiness is made of. At least that is what I feel to be true and I'm here to lay out my journey of learning, accepting, believing, and living this most ancient and timeless truth. It ought to be entertaining because if I have learned anything, it's that awareness, or presence, needs both patience and practice, and neither of those can exist without knowing your breath and therefore knowing yourself. Because breath leads to being. To be with breath for the purpose of knowing oneself means one has set an intention to know and embrace--to love--not only your physical body, heart, and soul, but also the mind's darkest shadows and brightest lights. A tall order for us humans.

It is said that yoga is the science of knowing one's true identity and thereby realizing the universal consciousness residing within all humanity and within all creation.  But that essence, this science of self-realization, science meaning an exploration and observation, is not what drew me into my first hot Hatha Yoga class a short eight years ago. I've got my cousin PJ to thank for that first class. Thank you PJ! It was she who, likely sensing the abuse my body and mind and soul suffered from all the drugs I did during my collegiate tenure, challenged me to 21 days of yoga. Just ninety minutes a day, she dared and sweetly taunted. Stretching? I can do that. If PJ could do, than I damn sure could do. Maybe this is what I need to clean out the trash? My last year of college was spent in a haze of marijuana, alcohol, xanax, adderall, cocaine, cigarettes, pizza, burritos, hot dogs, and hoagies. I felt slow and tired. I felt dirty. I wanted to feel fast again. I wanted to feel good. And what the heck, its 21 days, its free, and PJ has just challenged me. I'm in, 

Eight years later, I'm still in. My yoga journey has taken me to teach English in Madrid, Spain; to serve as a Congressional staff assistant in Washington; a line cook; law clerk; newspaper reporter; construction worker; whitewater raft guide; dog musher; marijuana trimmer; ski resort parking attendant; author; and yoga teacher. Each step has brought me closer to knowing who I am. Sometimes the steps seemed insurmountable, sometimes they seemed a breeze. Sometimes I fell into dark pits of self-criticism and sometimes I felt like I was finally moving in the right direction. The kick of it is that even in the worse moments I was still moving in a good direction, but my mind did not want me to see it that way. Yoga has helped to lift that negative cyclical thinking and shine a light that all movement is good movement because all movement ultimately leads to self-discovery. My hope is that sharing these stories positively contributes to the ongoing conversation here on planet Earth. The conversation about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Of love and spirituality. Believe it or not, it all begins with breath.

Sending ya'll good vibrations!

Alex