I’ve been doing yoga off and on since childhood. Mostly at home, but have taken classes in a studio here and there as well. The past few months, though, have been a brand new chapter in this drawn out story of my yoga journey. I’ve been practicing (nearly) every day for the past three months. I don’t have time or money right now for classes in a studio, so I’ve been practicing at home in the rare moments of quiet….early morning or late at night. With the help of the DownDog app, Pinterest, and my mama, I’ve expanded my asana repertoire way past what I’ve ever known. In the midst of all that, I have found the true purpose of yoga: to get to know yourself. It helps to calm my insanely LOUD mind. It brings me back down to earth and calms me enough to find a solution to whatever I’m struggling with. My anxiety has lessened, my pent up anger is definitely subsiding and I’m sleeping better. I find I can step back from the insanity no matter where I am, re-center with a few deep breaths, and then step back into the fray with more solid legs. This I know is all thanks to yoga. Despite what some think about yoga as a religion, I feel closer to God on the mat than I do anywhere else (aside from the ocean). This is where I can hear his gentle whispers that I’ve been blocking out during the day. Yoga is a time I can settle into myself and start acknowledging emotions and thoughts that I have been reluctant to listen to. My yoga mat is where I am finding myself, buried under years of doubt, pain, fear and struggle.
Aside from the mental, spiritual, and emotional growth I’ve experienced, I have also been excited to see the PHYSICAL changes. My body is stronger, more tone. My balance is getting better (which was SO NEEDED), my aches and pains are less. I’ve been able to stretch and hold my body in ways I haven’t been able to in years. Some of my favorite moments on the mat are looking at a pose and thinking “oh no way in hell” only to try and realize with a little bit of focus, I CAN do it! There is nothing more satisfying than nailing a difficult asana, or feeling myself sink deeper into a familiar one that used to give me trouble. I usually end a session feeling all sparkly and ready to take on the world.
Today after work I was feeling pent up and restless and exhausted…the perfect storm. Just for fun, I decided to try a “beginner” headstand. I’ve been working on shoulder stands and arm balances so I thought it would be fun to see if I could step it up a bit. I got through the first two steps, but when it came to stretching my legs out above my head, my core muscles just couldn’t get the job done. I collapsed with a giggle and a shrug and figured I’d come back to it. I dove into a kick ass 45 minutes session that left me sweaty and shaky & feeling accomplished. As I settled into savasana (also known as the main reason I do yoga), my perfectionism started to creep into my quiet mind and nitpick at all the spots I had problems in. “You were really shaky in Warrior III today. Why couldn’t you do side-plank? That used to be no problem! Your forward fold wasn’t deep enough.” Then I thought about the hilariously failed headstand attempt and started feeling stubborn. “I’m gonna try it again. I know I can do it! I was almost there!” And then a quiet voice from the back of my mind came forward and said, “listen to your body. You are not ready for a headstand. Keep working towards it, and come back to it later. If you force it, you will get hurt. Just be patient.” Grudgingly, I acknowledged I needed to calm the f*** down and work on perfecting some other asanas first. As I sat up and started coming out of my meditation, I had an epiphany: that same line of thought could be, and SHOULD be, applied to the rest of my life.
The number one rule in yoga is to listen to your body. That’s not to say, don’t challenge yourself, don’t push yourself a little bit. But you need to listen to what it’s telling you. If a certain pose hurts too bad, release and try something else. Focus on the muscles that need help the most, and listen when your body is saying “ENOUGH!” Yoga is not to meant to hurt. It’s meant to bend, stretch and challenge, but never injure. As I pushed aside my ego and perfectionism this afternoon, I realized I needed to apply that rule to my life off the mat. I need to stop rushing every
thing and trust the process that is my life. Obviously, I will continue to work towards goals, continue to push f
or a higher education, better health, happier mental state. I will not settle but I also will not keep forcing things that aren’t ready to happen it. The more I push, the less I listen, and the more likely I am to end up hurt in a pile on the floor. Things only happen when the time is right. I will be married when the time is right. We’ll have a baby when the universe says we will. I will find the perfect job when I’m supposed to. Our first house will come to us when it’s time. I just need to keep on finding a way to better myself, and everything else will fall into place. WHEN THE UNIVERSE/GOD WANTS IT TO, NOT WHEN I WANT IT TO.
How’s that for a lesson in ego and perfectionism? I am not a patient person. When I decide I want something, I get pretty upset when it doesn’t happen exactly when I want it to. I plan things out and then get completely disheartened when that plan falls to shit….and it always falls to shit. I obsess about things until I convince myself it will never happen and i spiral down into a depression. I’m kind of a toddler, if we’re honest here. One of the few Bible verses that I remember is from a Psalm (I don’t remember which one) and it simply says: Be still and know that I am God. It’s plain but powerful. Basically He’s saying, do what you’re supposed to, SHUT UP and just trust Me. Being still has never been my strong suit…unless I’m napping. Being patient has never been my strong suit either. But hard work definitely is, so I will keep on my path and just wait for things to fall into place. I’ll keep working on my balance and core muscles too, and one day I’ll get my ass in the air.
To help with this whole being-patient-and-still shit, I’m stepping back from Facebook for awhile. It’s hard to focus on all the positive in my life when there is nothing but negative shit on my feed. It’s hard to hear my inner voice when I’m nose deep in my phone. And yes, honestly, it’s almost impossible to be content in my life, when I’m getting snippets of everybody else’s “perfect” life. I rejoice full heartedly for friends and family who announce engagements, babies, new houses etc. I love looking a pictures of vacations and adventures. But, being human, I find myself comparing and despairing and maybe even getting a little jealous. I don’t like that about myself. I have a great life, and I am thankful and happy. But there are huge gaps that I am working on filling, and I don’t need a constant barrage of outside influence. So for my sanity, I’m breaking up with Facebook for a bit. I will spend the extra time working on me, spending time with my rapidly growing child, and strengthening my relationship. I need a little bit more silence in my life, and less negativity. Less competition.
You can contact me in the “old fashioned” ways via cellphone and email. I’ll still be on Instagram, and hopefully writing here much more frequently.