Confessions of a Bad Yogi

I have a confession to make. I am a bad yogi.  I did not practice one asana or mediate more than a few breaths at a time from November until February.  I did not even really want to. Hell, thinking about it made me physically ill. It was uncomfortable. I felt like I should want to practice. It made me feel guilty.

I know that I am not unique in this. I have read numerous articles that guaranteed, if you practice long enough, you will eventually come to a place where the thought of getting near your mat will be revolting.  I used to laugh when I came across these.  I’d think to myself, that will never be me, or, why would I stop doing the one thing that makes me feel grounded and whole? That’s crazy!

Well, it happened. In November I went through a break up, if you can even call it that. We had been together barely any time and yet it was hard on me. I was very angry, and I was disappointed. I think more than anything I was upset with myself. I had been swept away by little more than lip service and the rush of the fall. I had known that I was treading on dangerous ground and I had chosen to do it anyway. I put my trust in someone and it hadn’t panned out, again.

Prior to the morning when I received the blow off text, I had been working hard on establishing my daily yoga practice. It was really paying off in so many ways. I was more connected, more confident, and more centered than I can ever remember being. I have found that the more I practice, the better I feel. The calm and strength that I derive from my practice is addictive. It quiets my mind so much that I can actually hear that tiny voice inside me that lets me know what path to take.  I find so much joy in the small improvements that I see in the studio when I am diligently working towards bettering myself and being more present. My perspective on everything is noticeably different. These small breakthroughs on and off of my mat keep me coming back for more.

So when I received the “sorry, I’ve met someone” text, you would think that I would turn to my mat for solstice. If you did, you’d be wrong. It was 8 in the morning, the day before Thanksgiving and I simply didn’t want to deal with life. The thing about yoga is that it forces me to be present in my body; therefore I have to feel and process my feelings then release them. I wasn’t anywhere near ready for that.

Instead of turning to my mat, I cried, I railed, I engaged in some character assassination, and I found comfort in my friends. I traveled to New York, I hung out on Adam’s couch and ordered takeout, I went to the theatre, and saw bands that I loved, I danced, I laughed, and I cried some more.  I felt the loss and the disappointment almost every moment. I was bereft. I completely fell in love with New York City during this time. It was like a balm to the pain, which has turned out to be pivotal in my life, regardless of whether I end up there or not. I spent time alone thinking about what I want from my life, thinking about where I want to go from here, reevaluating, once again, what kind of woman I want to be.  I created a plan on how to get from here to there and I began taking the actions necessary to bring it to fruition.

All along though, in the back of my mind, I kept thinking about how I needed to get back to my practice. I was praying, but I wasn’t really listening. I connect with my God on my mat. It is where I am able to really feel his love for me and bring it along with me throughout my day. It was as if, at this point, I had decided, “No, I’ve got this. You let me down.” I had essentially turned my back on God.  I was angry with him and with myself.

I accomplished quite a lot in the two and a half months that I couldn’t get myself onto the mat.  I found an internship for the spring and then one for the summer. I began writing. I took the actions necessary to graduate and keep making progress in my life. I took control of the things that I could actually control and ran with them. Feeling in control kept me from feeling like I was completely falling apart.

A little over a week ago I spent the morning kayaking with my friend Elle, an amazing woman who I went through my yoga teacher training with. She is a light and an inspiration to me always. She is one of those people who upon first sight, I knew to be a kindred spirit, a soul mate. We spent hours on the water out in the sun. It was the perfect peaceful morning.

Later that evening, for the first time in a long time, I had an actual desire to practice yoga. There had been points in the preceding weeks, where I had wanted to, I would even set my alarm, so that I could get up and go to early morning classes. I was just never able to make it out of the bed. This was different. I got my mat out and placed it in my “yoga space” aka the kitchen. I went through my practice, albeit more quickly than I have been taught. It wasn’t an earth shattering practice, there was no burning bush, but I did feel better.

Over the next week some things unfolded that helped me to see that I was finally ready to let go. I had been holding onto the pain and sadness, wrapping myself in it like a blanket. I wasn’t holding on because I was still mourning the short-lived fling. I was holding on because as long as I did I would not be open to getting hurt again. If I stayed in the pain there was no risk. I knew what was coming and I was comfortable in it. There was no room for anyone to come into my life, not even God. I was protected by the anger and sadness. I had been playing it safe.

That Thursday I decided to go to my first class in a long time and it was difficult. My body wasn’t used to the heat or the postures, but I was glad that I had come.  The next day, after my 10 hour work day, I was hoping to stop and try out a raja course, which is very unlike my usual practice of active postures, it was all about relaxing into them and letting go. I, of course, tried to talk myself out of going throughout the drive up from Miami. I had a litany of rationalizations: I was too tired, my day had been too long, I was sore from the day before, and I wanted to practice in the morning so it was probably best if I just went on home to bed. Somehow though, all of these did not make a difference.

I walked into a packed room of yogis waiting to go into the studio. I felt intimidated. I was a little nervous and scared. I knew that this kind of class would have a lot of hip and heart opening poses, where emotion would be released. I was right. The class was challenging and at times downright painful, but I powered through, finding humor in my imperfections. The last ten minutes of the class, were spent on our backs. Mine, in body racking sobs. I cried through the last two postures and until the end of relaxation.

At first, I was conscious of the fact that we were packed into that room like sardines, that the gentleman to my right had to know that I was falling apart, that the teacher could see the tears streaming down my cheeks.  I was so overcome that I just let go.  It didn’t matter that anyone could see me or hear the sobs. I let it all out: all of the junk that had been trapped inside. I cried until I was out of tears, until I felt calm and cleansed. I left the room with an amazing lightness of heart and spirit. I couldn’t stop smiling.

My point through all of this rambling is that we all have our own journeys through life and each may look different than the last. When I start worrying about what I should be doing or about how things look different than I think that they should, I discredit what is actually happening in and around me. I am saying that I know better than God. That I know the right way and that this is not it. I do not give myself or God any credit and I am unable to appreciate the growth and changes that I am going through.  The beauty of life is wasted on me.

Looking back on the last couple of months I see now that I did exactly what I needed to do to heal. Each and every thing that I did and didn’t do had some kind of impact on me. I feel clearer and more centered than I have felt in a long time. I am stronger. And I know now, at least in this moment, that everything is as it should be. I am, once again, grateful. I am no longer playing it safe. I am not really that girl anyway. My heart is open and I am excited about the possibilities that each day brings. I can again see that life doesn’t have to be painless to be wonderful.

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