In my twenties I discovered yoga makes my life better. Yoga practice calms me, gives me the space I need in my mind, helps me connect my brain and my body to each other. With ignorance I stumbled into a home practice, later finding classes and books and teachers to guide me bit by bit.
Though I know I need my practice, making time for it has been especially challenging the last few years. I nag at myself to get it done because I remember that yoga was The Thing that brought me back to myself after my first child was born. Making that time forged my path back to me: my brain, my body, my intentions.
My youngest — and last — child is now 5 years-old and I have yet to return to my practice in earnest. Not surprisingly, I am still struggling on the path back to me. I tell myself this is a “mom thing” and I’ll figure it out. But the more I share my stories and read other people’s stories, the more I realize it’s not just a “mom” thing. It’s a people thing. We all struggle with connecting to our authentic selves at some point(s) in our lives.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a yoga class led by Sahar Paz. It was a calming and encouraging class, held outside. Our music was birds and the occasional rooster. Our AC was a rare cool, spring breeze.
On this day we were not only treated to Sahar’s gentle teaching style, but to her story as well. Sahar read to us the first chapter of her new book, Find Your Voice, during our practice. In that chapter, she shares a story from her childhood in Iran when everything in her life changed. Though her circumstances as a child were different than mine, I could relate to having a turning point in my life after which nothing was the same. Sahar believes we’ve all had that experience, and that — for women especially — it can affect our inner voice, the voice that sometimes tells us we can’t, we shouldn’t, or we aren’t worth it.
As we continued our practice and moved into Vrksasana (Tree Pose), she assured us that if our balance was off, it was ok: “Everyone wobbles; it’s how you recover that counts.” With each pose her guidance gently supported our physical movements and our thoughts. Though we were practicing yoga poses, Sahar’s words brought to mind day-to-day challenges during which we should be more forgiving with ourselves.
While we were lying on our mats in the final pose, Savasana, she concluded her reading of the first chapter. As Sahar guided our relaxation she asked us to join her in one last breath together. After class she gave us hugs, offered us water, and thanked us for our presence.
I left with a copy of her book and the confidence that my invitation to this event was no accident; I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
In the days that followed I started to read Find Your Voice with the intention of completing it so I could share my thoughts on the book. What I discovered is that it’s not that kind of a book. Find Your Voice is a memoir and a self-help book. It’s a guided meditation and a path to self-discovery. It’s the story of a girl from Iran who overcame so much to be the woman she is today and a comfort for anyone who has faced struggles in life.
Throughout the book Sahar has provided worksheets and spaces in the margins for you to examine your own life and your own voice. She gives you the opportunity to have a conversation with yourself, within yourself, and decide what is true about you.
I am not just reading the book; I am working my way through it. And with each chapter, with each exercise, I am guided by Sahar just as I was in her yoga class. As I joined her in breath during class, I join her in spirit while I read her stories.
I recommend this book to anyone who is inspired by stories of survival and to any woman who is carrying the burden of self-doubt, looking for a way to connect with her authentic self.