Yogis of Karma - Gaby Ceja

If you’ve lived in Denton for a long time, maybe some of your earliest memories include having a birthday party at Spinning Wheels on Elm Street.  As you grew older, you probably knew nearly everyone else your age because there was only one other high school. On the weekends, you would grab a Jones Soda from Jupiter House and hang out on the courthouse lawn, because there wasn’t a movie theater around yet. You might’ve avoided going grocery shopping with your parents, otherwise you would’ve run into your teachers at the only Kroger on University. And sometimes, maybe you sorta miss going to McKenna Park to watch the sun set over what was once a vast cow pasture, but is now Rayzor Ranch.


Growing up, Denton was not only my hometown, but also my security blanket. As a major introvert, I felt right at home in the predictability that came with growing up in such a tiny place. If you knew me in high school, then you knew I was a Type A wallflower and the routine queen. I always followed the rules, and never strayed too far away from my comfort zone. I was pretty adamant about my straightedgedness.


So, when I moved to Austin to go to college, I was in for a bit of a culture shock, even though I was less than 300 miles away. The music capitol of the world, Austin was a city where culture and diversity were rampantly thriving. There were limitless places to go, things to try, and so many people to make friends with! It was the perfect opportunity to create a new persona, find myself, and develop into a young adult. But, at first, I felt inhibited. I was too shy. I had grown accustomed to the smallness where I had come from, and didn’t know how to break out of my shell. I hadn’t developed confidence or boldness within my routines back home.


Thankfully, I found a place where self-exploration was possible. With yoga, it was okay to take baby steps. You didn’t have to throw yourself out there; instead, you could feel around for what felt right before you experienced something completely foreign to you. Going through my practice, I learned that it’s okay to be vulnerable and step out of complacency. You could become familiar in a posture, but you didn’t have to stay there. Instead, you follow your subconscious lead, growing and developing into the person you were meant to be. You become exposed, in a safe way. Yoga helped me learn to be more sure of myself, leading to the opportunity to try new things and set myself in situations where I couldn’t be a know-it-all. I learned not to take myself so seriously. I discovered that I really didn’t need to reinvent myself; I could stay rooted in my traditions yet still rise up and expand outward to a different direction. Yoga gave me the ability to feel true to myself and explore new places simultaneously.


When I moved back to Denton for graduate school, I realized that Denton wasn’t the quiet little college town that I remembered. Denton was going through it’s own yoga practice - it’s own revival. Bars and restaurants had opened up on the square, a different mural popped up every week, and the music scene was raging like never before! Fry street got some apartments, inviting more students downtown, and Denton High School even won a football game. AND we got a Target! Even now, our community is developing a personality that strays away from the ordinary by taking risks and seeing what works for us. Without a doubt, Karma Yoga Denton has added to the uniqueness of Denton and I’m so grateful for that!


Yoga is like our home, in a way. Even as our practice changes, we can still find remnants of our old selves there. We can visit what feels familiar and then continue to go even further, welcoming the transformation. We can decide our practice will be like coming back to the sleepy parts within us and choose to feel nostalgic. We can sleep in our little twin beds and let our mom cook our favorite meal, or we can awaken and explore. We can make ourselves feel a little uncomfortable for the sake of experiencing all the newness around us. Yoga is where we can make friends. People join us all the time, adding to the diversity and energy that expands our surroundings. We are continually changing like the environment around us. Who knows what it will be like in the future? It’s up to us to keep the flow going!

Gaby Ceja


Pictured with Holly the Hedgehog