Two years ago, I took a major gamble. I was working at a full-time job that I hated and that, most importantly, didn’t allow me enough time to teach yoga. I was miserable, exhausted, and had no clear sense of purpose. I had to get out. So, two weeks after getting married and going out of the country on my honeymoon, I turned in my notice at my comfortable, salaried, benefits-providing job and set out to start a private counseling practice and return to teaching yoga.
Those first couple of months were rough. It was the middle of the summer, a time when most people aren’t looking for counseling, so I had no clients. I jumped back into teaching yoga, but my classes were small. I was living off of a small savings account and the generous support of my new husband. Some days I was convinced I’d made a terrible mistake, that I’d go broke and have to go back to a job I hated. Every bit of self-doubt I’d ever had came up and out.
After a few weeks of struggling to market myself and get clients, I decided to get away for a weekend yoga workshop in Chattanooga. I spent most of the weekend with my eyes on the floor, fighting back tears, wondering if I’d ruined my life by giving up the security I’d had. But then, mid-Chatturanga, a voice spoke out from deep inside my gut.
“Just say yes.”
I tuned in a little deeper and listened to what else this voice wanted to tell me: Say yes to this moment. Quit fighting it. Don’t doubt the process. You are headed where you need to go and will be provided all you need to get there. Keep saying yes to this path, this dream. And trust.
Okay, then. For the rest of that workshop, I practiced saying yes. I said yes with every inhale. Yes with every exhale. Every pose was an offering of yes. I surrendered to whatever was in my future and gave control back to the Universe. Back where it belonged.
I came home from that workshop on a Sunday night. On Monday I got a call from my first potential client. Later that week I got calls from two more. Within a few weeks, I had almost as many clients as I could handle and was making as much money as I needed to get by comfortably.
It’s possible that it was all a coincidence. It’s possible that clients started calling because it was the end of the summer or because my website had been up long enough to rank higher on Google. But there’s no denying the power of positive thought. In saying yes and totally accepting whatever was part of this process, I opened myself up to any and all possibilities. I let go of my idea of what the plan should be, and in doing so brought myself more into alignment with the Universe’s plans for me.
Saying yes is not an easy thing to do. It means setting aside the ego, the part of us that says “My plans and desires are most important.” It requires spontaneity, which planners like myself aren’t always comfortable with. It requires humility to understand there may be a larger, more awesome plan at work. But it’s exciting. Saying yes to possibilities, to challenges, to risks is one of the greatest adventures in life.
And it’s something anyone can practice. The next time you’re stuck in traffic, rather than getting frustrated and fighting the situation, trying saying yes to the jam: Turn up the radio and rock out to a favorite song, or use the time to call a friend and catch up. When someone calls you for last minute dinner plans that you might normally turn down, say yes instead and see where the evening takes you. Or if you hear of a dream-vacation yoga retreat that you might normally talk yourself out of because it’s too expensive, see if there’s a way you can say yes and make it happen.
A few weeks ago, I had another opportunity to practice saying yes. I had just posted this blog about body image and the story of my eating disorder. I was still reeling from the overwhelmingly positive response from people who’d read it. I felt called to do more work and have more conversations on that topic but was unsure where to go next with it. Around the same time, I started doing private yoga sessions for an eating disorder treatment center for which I have a lot of respect. One morning, out of the blue, the director of the center emailed me, saying essentially, “We need another therapist. How can we get you to come work for us?” I was shocked because I had no plans to change jobs and hadn’t been looking for anything new. My initial reaction was to say no and hang on to the status quo. But, I thought, what would happen if I said yes?
We met to talk about details. I explained that it would be important to me to have a schedule where I could still teach my yoga classes. I also was honest about my pay requirements and other expectations. Everything I asked for, they said yes. And so, with a healthy dose of awe at the way the Universe works, I said yes, too. I start next week.
Am I a little nervous about this change? Of course. But I’m excited about a new career chapter that will allow me to continue to teach, write, and help people in the way I feel called to. And I’m still amazed at how the Universe provides exactly what we need, as long as we’re willing to say yes .