From Asana to Pure Light

That moment. Many of you may have already had that moment in a yoga class when the teacher says something, or you feel something, that transforms your practice from something physical to something energetic, deeper, even spiritual. Some of you may think that’s a lot of nonsense, and some may still be waiting for it. For me, it was a couple of years into a casual practice, at a class at a new studio. I was the only student.


As we sat together with eyes closed at the end of a beautifully sweaty, challenging practice, the teacher started talking about a light deep within each of us. A light so pure that it was untouched by time. Untouched by pain and illness. Untouched by anything of this world.

I cried. I had just been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease (an autoimmune condition where my own body is knocking out my thyroid), and was pretty depressed, discouraged, pessimistic.

I had lost my mother to cancer in middle school, and still carried much of that pain and heartbreak. I knew pain, illness, death, too intimately.

I grew up with a white, Lutheran Father and a Japanese Buddhist/Shinto mother (before she died). I was exposed to these different religions and did my own searching as a young adult, but never, not once, had I heard something that I didn’t question. Until that moment.

Untouched by time. Untouched by pain and illness. Untouched by anything of this world. YES! Her words fell into my heart through my ears and permeated my whole body, my spirit. I had found a spiritual home where I was looking for a physical outlet. I felt it. I knew it to be true. And I cried some more. On my yoga mat, and in front of who was then a stranger. She became a dear friend in addition to being an amazing teacher.

So that was my moment. And although not every philosophical and spiritual aspect of yoga rings true for me, this is at the very core of my practice. I need my practice, because, you see, I doubt myself, I still fear death. A year past the moment of this story, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And I fear it’s return. I need my practice because it brings me back to the knowledge that I AM pure light. Whatever the rest is, and it is all real, all part of being human, I AM STILL pure light.