I was born in Iran. The political landscape there was not something I agreed with or felt I could change. I came to the United States to go to school. I’ve met many nice people here, but after 9/11, for some people, anyone of Middle Eastern origin represented the face of the enemy. I had many unpleasant experiences. Without knowing my beliefs, people would hate me just from looking at my face or seeing my last name.
At Kripalu, I heard comments from the teachers like, “Thank yourself for being here.” There was the utmost care and compassion for yourself. That’s what I needed to heal myself, the utmost compassion. Also, having compassion for the people who hated me for things I had no responsibility for. I learned to take the seat of the observer, instead of taking the seat of the judge and saying this is right or wrong.
Before Kripalu, any kind of yoga I tried had been bittersweet. There were so many things I couldn’t do. I thought, maybe my body is not made for it. When I came to Kripalu I could see that it’s about doing what’s good for your body. I learned there is no perfect Downward Dog. I began seeing yoga as a way to grow, and it’s okay if I never have a perfect pose.
I wanted to immerse myself in the experience of leading the yogic life. I was teaching college physics at the time, and I was also going through a divorce. I was really seeking a break. I came back to Kripalu for 16 months through the volunteer program. After being a volunteer, I did a monthlong Yoga Teacher Training. I want to teach special-needs groups, people who are going through hard emotional times. I want to bring love and self-love to the people I teach. Even in the most hostile environment, there is an unlimited source of divine love. There is a spring inside every one of us that can sustain us.
Now I realize that suffering is part of life. I read in the Bhagavad Gita that the master adopts an attitude of friendship toward everything: toward happiness and toward sadness. I learned it’s my attachment to the outcome that makes the suffering seem so huge. These are my new ways of thinking. This is a great gift.
I heard in many Kripalu Yoga classes the phrase, “Close your eyes and come home.” I learned from practicing Kripalu Yoga to start at my inner home. There’s a home everywhere you go. That simple idea of coming home is just beautiful.
—Azadeh T., yoga teacher, La Jolla, California