I’ve been practicing yoga for six years now. At first, yoga was all about my body (or rather my dissatisfaction with my body), and my intention for my practice was to stretch it, make it stronger and leaner, change it into something else. There was nothing spiritual or gentle about it. I was focused on resistance and control. Over time, and with the help of wise and kind teachers, I softened. I showed up, opened up, allowed and accepted, let go of my agenda and surrendered to the practice — and with that, everything changed.
Niight Rain Wind is one of my favorite yoga teachers, specifically because her “light hearted teaching style brings a focus on physical and energetic alignment, embodiment and creating a strong foundation.” For at least a year, she taught my Monday morning class, and I learned so much from her. There have been a handful of individual classes for me that were transformational, and one was a morning when I was the only person who showed up for Niight’s class, so I got a private session. It was during that class that I knew the full potential of yoga, felt the connection, the union, the presence, the breath, the heat, the power.
Niight has the best energy, and is a joy to be around. She’s consistently cheerful and encouraging. I’ve lost count of how many times her support, physical and emotional, enabled me to do poses I was certain I couldn’t, to engage with the practice from a fresh perspective. I know the power of a headstand because of her, the release available in reverse bow/wheel pose. She never pushes you beyond your edge, but rather inspires you to reconsider where that might be, gently guides you to a new possibility.
Niight describes herself this way, “Niight Wind is a Yoga and Wellness Coach in Fort Collins, CO focusing on Digestive Health, Empowerment and Overcoming Trauma. She is a sought after speaker who has presented at Ignite as well as numerous Universities. Niight is a nature junkie and the creator of the Yoga Coaching for Runners Program.” Niight is also an amazing photographer.
To begin her answers to my questions, Niight shared this quote,
Self-Love is essential, for I cannot see the love in the hearts of others or in the world if I do not know it myself. The love I feel for the Divine echoes throughout my life and sets my course. Love is all around. ~Laura Alden Kamm
1. What does self-compassion mean, what is it? How would you describe or define it?
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about Self Compassion is being your own inner “perfect mother”. She is the one that tells you everything is going to be o.k. and can always see your beauty, and knows when to listen. We all have this inside ourselves if we listen, even if your real mother is not anything like this.
After really thinking about this question, I came to the realization that self compassion is very connected to self esteem and self care. To see self compassion from a more tangible point of view, we can look at the pillars of life: food, sleep and creativity. Keeping these in proper balance is a huge part of having self compassion. When these are out of balance it is much harder for us to function and yet we often deprive ourselves of these very important simple needs. There is one thing beyond this that can help us have more compassion for ourselves and that is having a purpose that lights up your heart. This doesn’t have to be your job, but it could be.
2. How did you learn self-compassion? Did you have a teacher, a guide, a path, a resource, a book, a moment of clarity or specific experience?
I learned self compassion from a lot of trial and error, and a lot of strong, but gentle people. The technique I use the most is self study. But, one of the biggest moments of finding self compassion, was a time that I was really upset. Riding my bike home from work, crying. I was sick of wasting my energy, just plain fed up. I realized that I had the power to flip that switch, to have compassion for myself and take back my power now, and at any time I wanted. It was a big realization that I was wasting my time and energy living in the past and beating myself up about it.
Reading and listening are completely different from doing the work, but a book that I love and always recommend around this topic is True Love: A Practice of Awakening the Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh.
I practice self compassion by being gentle on myself, and self inquiry and self study. If I look at a situation and see something did not turn out how I wanted, instead of beating myself up, I ask myself how would I change that next time? What was this really about? What can I do now to set myself up for “success” next time?
There is a reason that they call most things a practice, it is because you have to practice, it is not about getting to the perfect point, but getting better at dealing with situations, better with the inner struggles, creating a quicker reflex to turn to self compassion not doubt and blame. Self compassion comes in many forms for me: going to bed when I am tired, painting my nails, taking time for myself in nature, going for a trail run, saying no when necessary, the list goes on.
4. What do you still need to learn, to know, to understand? What is missing from your practice of self-compassion, what do you still struggle with?
The biggest thing I am working with right now is realizing that anger is fear, and when I am angry at others, it is fear, and the person is mirroring that to me. I then try to catch myself and move into a place of self love. The reason I say love for myself, and not love for that person is that it is much easier to love myself first, and radiate that. Where as in a state of anger it can be much harder to feel love for the person you are angry at, and you do not have the capability to change someone else. You can only change yourself. Anger and fear just waste your energy.
I am so grateful for Niight, for her wisdom, her teaching, her practice, her gentle presence, the joy she radiates. To find out more about Niight, to connect with her:
Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Jennifer Louden.
P.S. If you didn’t see the first post in this series, you might want to read Self-Compassion Saturday: The Beginning.