The first time I remember doing “official yoga” (whatever that is ;)) was on my own. It was about 10 months or so after my daughter’s birth and I was having trouble feeling like “me”. My back hurt, my core was weak, my neck and shoulders were chronically bent over and I just felt OLD. (I was in my mid 20’s so that’s not an ideal feeling.)
I had been active running and trying to lift weights pretty consistently. However, the WAY I did these activities was to “whip my butt into shape” and almost shame myself into doing them, shame myself DURING them (to go harder), and shame myself after about how out of shape I was.
This was the space I was in when I came to yoga. I actually started by book---Hittleman’s 30 Days of Yoga” to be exact. This way I could listen to my own music, “memorize the moves” and just do it myself at my convenience. I liked that and found that for some reason, when I’d just play around with it (without it having to be MORE and HARDER) that I ended up NATURALLY making time to do some yoga poses more frequently and for longer periods of time. It just made me feel BETTER---a rare commodity those days.
When we moved to our new home, we joined the gym. I was fortunate---at this gym they offered regular yoga and childcare. I started going 2-3 times per week (I’d try to “get a workout in” before too!) The teacher at these gym classes was gentle and yet strong, down to earth and yet deep. The classes were challenging without being about “pushing” or “shaming”. I remember her saying “let it be enough” SO many times. “You are enough”. “You are DOING enough”. “Today’s yoga was enough”. These phrases were like balm to my shame-burned soul.
As I kept making space for these yoga “appointments”---I noticed a few interesting things that started happening.
Physically: my knee that had been shot from running started actually HEALING and I could run again little by little. My back and shoulder aches started dissipating. I was standing taller and breathing easier.
Mentally: I noticed more self-kindness entering in rather than harsh self judgment. I started looking forward to these yoga times as JOY rather than punishment for an out of shape body. I started pushing less and less during my yoga times and as a result actually could do MORE.
Those times outside of yoga, at that time of my life, were still a bit of a rollercoaster emotionally to be honest. I had ups and downs and really didn’t TRY to take my time ON the mat into my life OFF the mat. But---little by little seeds were being planted in my heart. I was tucking away these body/mind lessons for when I was ready to see them.
Now, years later---with still a yoga practice that can look ragtag, btw---I can SEE these seeds of life changing lessons my body on the mat has taught me. Lessons of being uncomfortable, lessons of motivation, of resilience, of courage and of JOY. Looking back, my practice has changed me little by little until my life and who I am look NOTHING the same---and yet SO much more MYSELF. The person I have always truly been at my core. It is a gift I will always be grateful for and a gift I wish to pass along to you, my fellow traveller, in these writings. It’s my intention that whether you do yoga or not----these monthly writings will give you a glimpse of awareness into your OWN rich experiences, to see them with new eyes and for you to connect deeper with your own inner wisdom of soul and heart. <3 The posts that will follow are my “Lessons from the Mat”.