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What is You, Me and Yoga Makes 3?

My name is Danielle Marie Robinson. I am a woman living in Chicago, teaching Yoga, writing my experiences and insight, and loving my dogs, my man, my friends and my family. I love to laugh. I really love to eat. Mostly I love to love, and everything good loving entails. I've been profoundly impacted by the practice and teaching of Yoga, its influence has trickled down into every spoke of my life's wheel. My closest and true connections are those gifted by Yoga, whether being the genuinely awe-inspiring students I've met, my humbling and passionate fellow teachers, those who inform and mentor me, my dearest friends and the many interesting human beings in between that share an interest and enthusiasm for living a joyful life. I am so fucking grateful every damn day. And that's where You, Me and Yoga Makes 3 comes in. (side note: I do enjoy a good F bomb, it is only expressed in passion and love, never to harm or offend. let's revolutionize our vocabulary!) What began as a somewhat cutesy play on words has grown to significant depth and meaning in my life. The practice of Yoga is meant to be shared, exuded, reflected, absorbed, and continuously learned and taught. You teach via the way you engage with the world, in how you live your life. It has little to do with the roles of Teacher and Student, and more to do with human to human exchange, how we influence and engage with each other.

You inspire me. I aim to connect and inspire you. There is no me without you. There is no one to teach without open ears to listen, without an open mind to provoke, or an open heart to resonate. It is the same IAMness that Yoga has exposed within me that I am aware of because what I see in you. Just as love is a reflective experience, we need others to express it, we need a symbiotic exchange of positive emotion, teaching Yoga is the same. We need and benefit from each other. I learn from you, you learn from me. It's such a fantastically fucking awesome relationship and the biggest meaning behind YMaYM3.

It is my biggest gift getting to know students, in their practice and often in their personal lives. These are sincerely wonderful human beings and they without a doubt keep the fire lit under my butt to keep learning, to keep improving, to hopefully keep inspiring them, to keep their interest and dedication to Yoga and themselves. To choose to be a teacher and writer requires the feedback and connection with others and I am so impassioned to share what I've learned with such intelligent, kind and open people. I learn from each class I teach and through each piece I write. Feedback is essential.

The number 3 is powerful, prime. It carries many meanings, shares a similar image with the OM (aum) symbol, and is reflective of our enduring cycles of life; a beginning, middle and end. Our breath is the simplest way to recognize and access this pervasive cycle, but at any given moment we feel the energy of starting, of persevering and of dissolving. Yoga restores equanimity as we constantly move through these cycles of life.

You, Me and Yoga Makes 3 is also a bizarro version of the holy trinity. You is my ego, Me is my essence, and Yoga is Yoga. This dynamic exists within me on an everyday basis. I constantly learn from my ego in how to further live from my essence. This has been my present and it will be my future.

I'm compelled as a champion for happiness to invest in my own peace and wellness so I can authentically pass along the knowledge and insight I glean along my way. I am human, fallible, constantly learning, but I aim to live what I'm teaching. I feel so eager and grateful to live each day. I feel better and better in my skin each day. So much of this sense of peace and bliss is thanks to Yoga, but along with crediting the inspiration, I have to credit the inspired: Me. This goes for you too. The better you are each day is due to how you apply what you learn into how you breathe and interact moment to moment. Yoga instills this amazing responsibility, we are in charge of our happiness, of how we perceive our external stimuli, recognizing that how we view the world is merely a mirrored reflection of how we see ourselves.

Together we must help each other feel grateful for all that we were and all that we are, while feeling optimistic and excited for who we'll become. I believe so strongly in utilizing Yoga to empower each other to be our own best teachers, to carve our own unique paths to happiness, and to find collaborations with others to help encourage, uplift, inform and inspire the world, however big or small that world may be. We can begin to see "God" or "Yoga" in everyday life, in simply being, supremely present, elevated, high on Life. So, I thank You, Me and Yoga Makes 3. I need a balance of all to keep me evolving on this journey to an ecstatic, loving, travel filled life where everyday I laugh a lot, I eat well, I give good hugs, I move my body in a mindful way with others, and I breathe more conscious breaths than the day before.

Thank you. Seriously. Let's keep doing what we're doing. Stay connected. I'm fucking stoked!

Here's to a life where we can keep opening our minds, bodies and hearts. Namaste! Below I'm pictured with my partner in Yogis Can Help, Veronica Rottman. We're bringing Yoga and supplies to cancer patients in Cange, Haiti next month. We're humbled, grateful and thrilled to bring our knowledge and compassion to more under-served around this beautiful planet.

I'm teaching with my NYC Sonic alumni Shuli Burke, now a thriving teacher in Boston, on a Travel Yogi Yoga and Surf retreat in El Salvador. It would mean a great deal if you'd celebrate life with us March 9-16, 2013. I do not regret one dollar I've spent on Yoga, travel, meals and laughter with good company, and with memorable experiences that leave me feeling deeply in love with life. Join us :)

I share some insight, humor and Yoga related posts on Facebook. Join the conversation at You, Me and Yoga Makes 3.

I tweet similar musings in 140 characters. Chew with me @mastic8onthis.

danieatslife is being worked on professionals that I am investing my hard-earned dollars from turning Yoga tricks in to take all my previous and current passions into a visually and user-friendly site to stay connected. Please stay tuned.

I've been writing almost weekly since April for MindBodyGreen. If you like anything you've read by me, please feel enthusiastically invited to read my variety of articles there! Thanks for reading and sharing.

For the love of Yoga

I used to feel that life was very black and white, and to be strong in your convictions was important; therefore, you must choose one or the other. Through life experiences, exposure and absorption of provocative art, cerebral and esoteric conversations and the down and dirty practice of Yoga, I’ve not only become more comfortable with gray, but I’m now embracing contradiction, the existence of hypocrisy and the potential for relating and understanding many angles to arguments and the endless spectrum in which people live their lives. There are some key issues that haven’t changed, they’ve probably deepened, but for the most part I’m becoming more comfortable in the unknown, in the ambiguity of life. And I’m grateful. It is deeply mystifying to explore the duality of life. Being a student and teacher of Yoga, a practice meant to be inclusive, gathering, welcoming, awareness driven but never preachy, enlightenment as intention with emphasis on lessons to be gleaned from darkness and suffering, has nailed down what is really important, and diminished the weight of what is not. It resonates and elevates beyond the confines of the mat. It has taught me to radiate Yoga out and in turn, harness it deeper within. This is all very granola, somewhat cliché hippy dippy talk. I’m fine with that. My delving into the practice led me toward explorations and relationships that now make me better and my form of expression is words. Words are meaningless, but they’re all I have. I cannot paint (my art teacher made fun of me, seriously). I do not sing (to others, you’re welcome for that). I love to dance but do not have the lifelong acquired skill to express my feelings and interpret for others to enjoy, except in the creation of my vinyasa sequences. I cannot operate a camera with more than 5 settings (I leave that to the very talented and skilled men in my life). For me, I feel strong when I share, in teaching and in scribing, speaking and corresponding. I’ve been crippled by excessive self-awareness, questioning my skills, whether anyone would want to listen or read, and similar to excessive confidence and the lack of self-awareness, each are driven by the ego, by fear. Yoga shines a light on the ego’s dark existence, bringing in an awareness that slowly dissolves fear and a presence in which the ego simply cannot survive. I’ve slowly gotten over myself, not thinking of myself as great, but also not thinking of myself as inadequate. I am perfectly adequate, and so are you. I care, deeply, for people and for my life to have meaning, to feel effectual and align the external with the internal. Again, duality.

Below started as a game of wordplay, of antonyms, of complexity, and of analyzing the meaning of Yoga, both literally and figuratively. Yoga’s root word is yolk, meaning union, the roots being the union of unconscious and conscious, horizontal and vertical, mortality and divinity. What arrived after a long, run-on sentence, was somewhat of an interesting poem, and keeping in line with everything Yoga has extracted and taught, I thought instead of hoarding it, fearing its unworthiness and doubting its purpose, why not share in something many of us already love, a truth you already know, and share with some who may not have felt the magic of Yoga yet, but perhaps you can relate in your own way. We all can be yogic, being able to touch your toes or twist into a pretzel has very little to do with the intended results. Some of the most beautiful yogis in my life either cannot or do not practice what we’d all assume to be this ancient practice. It has proven benefits for your mind, body and soul, brings a deeper appreciation of this very second, eliminates psychological time, and fosters a very supportive and fun community.

I can only hope I’ve had a fraction of the impact on my students as they’ve had on me. My persistent goal is to keep learning. We’re never finished, treating the means as the end makes the end unpredictably sweeter and the journey exponentially more potent and alive. I’m no longer anxious for what tomorrow will bring or incessantly focused on having a plan. I’m embracing presence as a priority and allowing the path to unfold before my eyes. I’ve recognized I do not have all the answers and I do not need them, I’m open and willing to learn them as I’m exposed, being kinder to myself and reverberating that to my world, hoping it’s boundless. I wish for not only the people I love, but also the people so wrecked with pain, those I still do not understand, and those I’ll never meet, to find their own yogic truth. Who you are is beautiful, give fear and your ego a big middle finger. Give yourself the gift of yoga.

Shanti (peace) and Namaste (I see you, the light in me acknowledges, respects, the light in you.).

Union Symbiosis Mind and body Human and mat Ego and essence Time versus presence Self doubt and confidence Fear and passion Art and skill Strength and flexibility Inhaling and exhaling Rooting down and rising up Succeeding and failing Contentment and insatiability Stamina and Stillness Energy high and energy low Sun and snow Hatha and flow Knowing and unknown Yin and Yang Human and Being We’re all the same

My Philosophical Conundrum

Religion is an acrimonious subject. I’m reticent to ever discuss it as it extracts, at times, the worst in people. I find the very reaction, the defensiveness, the collective egos, the criticism, to be the literal antithesis to that belief system’s intention. What began as a collective measure, quickly turned into a manipulative practice in the control of mass quantities of people. Like puppets, hoards of us think, speak and move, according to what others say. What is the difference between an omnipotent being passing down life lessons and your parents doing the same? Your parents are real. As a woman, in 2011, I’d be better off living under a burka in Afghanistan, than adhering to the bible literally. The ways both testaments seek to subvert women is both creative and disturbing. Believing in an all-knowing, supposedly all-loving being and living within their guidelines, whether it be the Bible, Torah, Koran or other document over 800 times as old as I am, is a tough pill to swallow. So I elect to take no pill. Instead, I choose to ask questions and be open to many possible answers, or no answer at all. Hopefully, knowledge is more contagious than fear. That is still a question that remains unanswered, but again, I’m optimistic. I’m not afraid of other religions or religious people. All I ask is they’re open to me, an atheist with a heart, a Yogi with an elemental soul, evolution animating the dreamer.

I find the literal interpretation of any ancient document to be futile. It can only lead to hypocrisy; in you and in others. The number of times these “good books” have been translated from dead languages into ever-evolving live ones provides an inkling to the problem right there. Like a game of telephone, what comes out at the end scarcely resembles the initial thought. So who knows what the actual, truthful first words were and exactly what they were intended to mean. No one. Not your priest, not your rabbi, not even the Dalai Lama. Some have an in-depth study in their theology, in literary interpretation, and are adept at philosophical debate; yet, not one single human being alive today knows anything for sure. That very fact alone, the not knowing, is precisely what leads to devout faith and unapologetic, even forceful, belief. I’m more inspired and encouraged by what I don’t know than what I do. Inquisitive minds never say never and never say always. They’re accustomed to gray areas and swim in the unknown, without a life-vest. This is where I choose to reside, in the murky, mysterious deep, answers progressively unfolding, evolving as I do.

As a recovering pragmatic forward-thinker, I can understand and even appreciate why faith is important, the good it can do, and the focus it can inspire. I simply offer alternatives to the antiquated, unforgiving, rigid structure that organized religion provides. We need to allow ourselves to be wowed by seeking out our own information, instead of mindlessly absorbing what is thrust at us. Sure, there is free will involved in waking up, going to your religious headquarters and reading your form of scripture; however, how many times do we ask, “why am I here? how did I get here? do I still want or need to be here, really? Does this material truly sit well with my soul, sink into my bones and operate smoothly via my mind and body or am I simply conditioned? Am I living within the parameters that have been set happily, without judgement of others, without a need to be better than another, more righteous than another, more welcomed into “heaven” than another?”

The closest concept to a religion that I practice is Yoga. In the west it’s regarded as a method of increasing flexibility, but mostly, yoga carries a heavy stereotype that cripples its potential growth. I’m a teacher from my own, unique perspective, allowing a practice much older than most world religions to provide answers in surprising ways. I still eat meat, compete, curse, and god forbid, make mistakes, because I am a human being, and that is all Yoga has ever asked me to be. The stillness and calm taking residence permanently deep within makes many more appearances in my daily life because of yoga. It has brought love and connections to me and is the most inclusive way of life I’ve come across. I’ve met men and women of all ages, nationalities, sexual orientations and religions and through those differences, we found our common ground, and it happened to be yoga. I’m not saying it has to be Yoga, but it has to be something.

The issue I take with the state of our world is the sheer repellant we apply to people we deem different, often stemming from ignorance and skewed ideology. I’m striving to not make decisions based on my habituated way of thinking but perhaps via a conduit I’ve yet to explore, potentially the very answer lies within the source of the question itself. This goes for small arguments, day to day decisions, career moves, political alliances and all occasions surrounding catharsis. My quarter century on this planet and exposure I’ve been fortunate enough to experience has only given credence to this. Different is good. Weird is awesome. Life is unpredictable. Allow yourself to be awestruck and changed by someone or something else.

Ideology continues to morph and change as people do, but there is one constant. LOVE. If you find that the intention behind whichever your chosen belief system is to infuse, imbue and instill Love, then carry on my friend. Keep yourself honest, continue the quest, allow yourself to doubt. And while bathing in the deep, enigmatic waters, drowning in doubt, think, feel, exude LOVE.

This passage was created and published with Love, please only take it as such.