There is always a larger unfolding. A plan already in motion. An entire path being walked from just a single step.

There is always a larger unfolding. It is happening–even if you can’t see it.

This is part of a letter that I wrote to myself four and a half months ago at the start of my 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training certification program, which concluded on Sunday.

Our final teacher training weekend welcomed us with blue skies and a bright sun. We 20-some yogis came together for a celebration of yoga on the beautiful beaches of Rhode Island, exchanged blessed rudraksha seed mala beads that were carried in a backpack across India–oh, and we all took our final 3-plus-hour written exams and passed with flying colors, too.

Teacher training study group on a gorgeous summer solstice!     Takin a few minutes in the sun to study for the yoga teacher final. (PS: Cranium, Mandible, Clavicle, Ribs, Sternum, Humerus!)

We say in yoga that we are our own gurus.

We are our own teachers and guides, even though we are certain to find dozens and dozens of teachers, peers, guides, gurus and inspiring examples of people who give us hope, determination, confidence, lessons and advice to live our best lives. So what does it really mean then to be one’s own guru?

My yoga teacher training experience became a living example of individual souls on individual paths, coming together in small bursts of deeply intimate, meaningful and determined moments that, altogether, forged a family of “self-gurus” who loved, supported, “saw” and experienced one another in profound ways.

It was an honor and gift to experience the depth of a family and community that we constructed over months of these organic moments. Those moments were moments of being seen, sharing our truth and stories, discussing philosophy and spirituality in a supportive atmosphere, and truly owning our light–whatever the color or brightness in a given moment.

But you do not have to fall face-first into a yoga teacher training family to experience something like this in your own life.

In the end, that’s the only reason why I share personal stories as I do here and in books and in my workshops: each story or personal experience hopes to be a living example that you can set upon a path to experience something similar to what I have experienced but in uniquely “You” ways.

It might be with yoga or writing, or the martial arts and church choir.

Sizing up more before (top) and after (bottom) photos from teacher training. Some poses show progress and others, as you might guess, even show slight regression. Like anything else!     Yoga teacher training. Final weekend.

There is no limit to how you can cultivate your own light and experience the bright lights of others. 

In many ways, yoga simply represents one slice of a personal philosophy that I have been slowly unpacking for years and years.

And much of my work, mission or dharma (life purpose) is about helping you utilize arts like writing, speech, communication, creative entrepreneurship and now yoga to unpack your own personal philosophy in ways that honor your wants, needs and truth.

I use the word “unpacking” because I feel that our personal philosophies on what it means to live a good life full of love, service and purpose is not “created” so much as it is “realized.” This is our shraddha or faith, something profound that has been “placed in our hearts” through personal experiences and choices, but also something deeper than that.

Like a Rubix Cube, we might twist and turn our thoughts and feelings to uncode the special identity that is our soul.

Afternoon jaunt in the park with Mother of Elephants, @lizalokich and Moses the Yoga Dog.     The clouds came. But the sun said, "Encore," and left a trail of glowing star dust in its wake.

We unravel, we beat up the bad sides of our egos and judgments and let go of our worry-brains, and peel our love open to reveal a sweet center. Layers are shed so that we can discover the core of our true identity, our values, and the limitless potential that every one of us carries in our DNA.

We must use whatever tools are at our disposal: the arts, our work, our family lives, upcoming travel plans, a website or blog.

We must embrace those souls who seem to naturally understand us at our core, all so we don’t need to waste time and energy to explain or defend ourselves for who we are.

We risk, we strive, we dream and we pursue, oftentimes not knowing where the hell it’s all going.

We go anyway.

And there’s always something there, underneath it all. “A plan unfolding.” Even when we can’t see it.

Just think back to a place in time when you thought you saw what you wanted before you discovered what you really needed. Isn’t it possible that that plan was unfolding all along? What it took for you to realize the plan was trust, and one simple step after the other.

The seed is not known until it sprouts. The sprout, not known until it grows. The tree, not known until it sows its own seeds. One plan was in motion all the while.

Whether or not you know what’s unfolding, something is. We can’t see the journey through to the end. That’s why it’s so important to focus upon the path that you’re on right now, right now. Honor that unfolding process. Allow what’s still unknown to unpack itself.

Fin. #yogateachertraining #graduated     200-Hour yoga teacher training certification test, complete! #jai

So keep sprouting, keep reaching high, stand ever taller, and never stop placing your seeds wherever they might drop.

Their plan is already in motion.

Their plan is love.