One of the beautiful things about having a yoga practice is that it is always there for you.
When it’s been the kind of day where the world is resting on my shoulders and the weight of it all is crushing me. When my head is stuck in the clouds and I am craving something to draw me back down to earth and help me feel grounded. When I am stuck in a battle of toxic and untrue beliefs about what my body should look like or where my life should be and I just need something that tells me it’s all ok, that I am ok as I am am in this moment. When I need a tool to help me learn to trust my body – again and again. When I am so exhuasted yet still need “me time”. When I need to celebrate the miracle that is this body, this mind, this heart, this spirit of mine. When it’s been months since I’ve last practiced. When I was a brand new baby yogi. When I find myself in beginner’s mind. When I need to be knocked back into beginner’s mind. When, despite being experienced, I feel vulnerable and new; or need to lean into growth and new experiences. When I feel lost. When I need to be reminded what being in the present moment feels like. When I need to touch the innermost dwelling within me where wisdom and bliss can comingle. When I need to be alone. When I need to be reminded that I am a part of the larger whole.
Yoga is there for and through all of that and more. My practice and my teachers are there with open arms, a loving reminder of what coming home feels like. A loving opportunity to remember who I am, who WE are, and how I want to move through this world.
I often tell people that yoga saved my life. And I mean it. There were times when my anxiety and adrenal fatigue were taking such an enormous toll that the days felt painfully long, I felt like I was falling short and failing in everything I did. At the end of the day my yoga mat was my place of solace and safety. I could be whoever I was in that moment, as I was, and it was enough. Even if all I did was lay in child’s pose and cry, that was enough. It was my direct line to the unconditional love of the Universe, and it kept me going in so many ways.
Living as a single mom with health issues and anxiety was, to say the least, difficult. There were solid years where not a day went by that I made it through the day without a panic attack, or my health demanded a nap that would never leave me rested, where I didn’t break down in tears or feel like one gigantic failure. It was my yoga practice that gave me the tools to slowly build up a sense of strength. Not in a physical muscle way, but emotionally and mentally. The lessons being on my mat brought me were (and still are) so applicable everywhere else.
Balance poses taught me that even though the world felt wobbly and I didn’t think I could hold on there was stability to be found in breathing into the moment. The focus required in poses that tone one area of my body and open another taught me that in the opposing forces of life it was possible to find a sense of calm and peace that would carry me through. The inward motion of child’s pose and downward facing dog allowed me to slowly learn that focusing in on myself and sitting with what I found wasn’t as scary or dangerous as it felt. The effort and release of poses I thought I didn’t like taught me that I can either go with the flow and feel a sense of grace or ease, or dig in my heels and focus on the resistance and resentment and feel even more unease/disease. And there were no lectures about not achieving enough if all I was able to manage was rolling my mat out, laying there and breathing; on the contrary, being able to do that was a celebration because there was always a sense of release. A sense of coming home. A sense that I had gained something.
During those years I released so many tears within my yoga practice. I also found a sense of pride in my growth, and learned how to trust and love my body instead of fear what it would do to me next.
Yoga saved my life because it was my living, moving practice that reminded me that each moment will pass into the next and I do have a choice in how it feels, to an extent. I can choose to breath my way through it and accept/experience each step – change how I enter or approach things for the sake of growth; or I can try to fight or ignore. refuse to see what is under the surface of it and feel even more disconnected from myself and the world around me.
I’m not saying that is what you will find on your mat, in your practice. That is what is beautiful about it. It can be so many different things to so many different people. It can even be so many different things to any one person. Sometimes it brings the chance to play. Or the chance to connect and be a part of something larger than oneself. A chance to get to know oneself now in this current chapter. A chance to release. To weep. To laugh. To stretch. To grow. To feel. To learn. To love.
A chance to be.