Today I spent a lot of time pondering the fact that I used to hate yoga. Yup, practices daily, teaches yoga, me used to hate yoga. In all fairness I didn’t give it much of a chance, but I tried enough classes to know that it was not for me. I was a dancer, super flexible, strong, and in shape. What on earth did yoga have to offer me? I saw it as a bunch of stretching and breathing, all while moving slower than I liked to. No thank you. I had much better things to do with my time.
A little over six years ago my life began to unravel. Nothing made a whole lot of sense. Things were falling apart in ways I wasn’t sure how to cope with. The life I had built started to come apart at the seams, some of it was my doing, some of it was not. I was confused, lost, and holding a lot of hurt and pain that I knew I needed to release but somehow couldn’t. Then one day, I went to a yoga class with a friend. I have wracked my brain trying to remember what led up to that class. Who initiated it? How did we decide to go to yoga together? Why did we decide to go to yoga together? In the end it doesn’t really matter. We went. And I kept going back. That is all that matters. Pretty soon I was racing home from work to change out of work clothes and get to yoga class. I was rearranging my schedule to take classes I liked. I was making paying for classes a financial priority. I was hooked.
I had no great epiphanies during that difficult time. Things didn’t make more sense, stop unraveling, or changing in ways I couldn’t predict and was baffled by. I didn’t physically get stronger, more flexible, or get into better shape. What happened in those first weeks, months, and years was as simple, and as profound, as it gets, I learned to breathe and I learned to be with myself. Life did not get easier, none of the situations in my life changed, I started to change. It was so subtle I don’t even know that I was aware of it at the time. It is still subtle, but I have learned that that is the work. It is allowing for enough quiet, even if it is only a nanosecond of quiet a day, so those subtle changes can occur. It is in those quiet moments that I slowly discovered the true me was always there. In the face of fear, failure, rejection, and pain, in the face of love, success, joy, and peace the true me was always there, always strong enough to face what was right in front of me.
For me, yoga is a constant reminder not to runaway from myself, or any situation that arises. It was the tiny spark of this concept that kept me coming back to class in those first few weeks. It was what helped me weather the storms. It is the steadily growing flame of this concept that keeps me coming back to my mat daily and propels me to want to share yoga with others. Are there still days I hate yoga? Yes. Only I realize, it is not yoga that I hate, it is the coming face to face with all of myself that I sometimes hate. Yoga brings me face to face with who I am, how I respond and react to different situations, and all of the thoughts and emotions that cloud over the true me. I, like all humans, have parts of myself I am not so fond of. On the days I hate yoga it is because I hate having to embrace all of me, just as I am. And it is the realization that I must accept all of me in order to live and love more fully and freely that keeps me coming back day after day, month after month, year after year.