I used to think that yoga was something that only really cool, hipster girls did surrounded by plants. I imagined that this kind of girl was totally chill in every sense of the word, and she probably had a long single braid down her back. She drank her coffee, black, at the same time every morning with her record player going in the background. She definitely meditated, even though at the time I only half believed that meditation was something that someone could actually do. Needless to say, I just did not believe that I was “one of those kinds of people”. Yoga wasn’t something I thought I would get anything out of. It wasn’t my “lifestyle”.
14 months ago I went through a break up that flipped my entire world upside down. Blindsided and 110% more emotional than I even knew I was capable of being, I went through some of the loneliest and most confusing days of my entire life. Eventually I was tired of being sad and in an attempt to move forward, I just started doing things. I bought a guitar. I started hanging out with new people. I took my little cousins skating. I fostered a dog. I prayed. I prayed a lot. And one day, I found myself at a yoga studio with a new friend.
It was an hour long class, and it was an easier session with a focus on meditation and stilling the mind. I remember feeling silly and embarrassed as I looked around at everyone else and changed my pose 15 seconds late because I didn’t know what a “vinyasa” was. My body protested against every movement, and I rediscovered my extreme lack of balance that night. Toward the end of the session, we laid on our backs and the instructor talked us through a meditation. Still the mind. Whatever you brought with you tonight, whatever you’ve been carrying, release it now. I let out a deep breath. In that moment I felt like I could loosen my grip on what I had been carrying. Deep Inhale; Deep Exhale. In the stillness of my mind, I felt God show up there. In the quiet between my scattered thoughts, it was as if he said to me, “Here I am, where you always leave me. Come back sometime.”
I started going every week after that. I would go to the studio, to my friend Sarah’s apartment and then to sessions at the local breweries. Yoga wasn’t, and still isn’t, easy for me. I wasn’t flexible, I couldn’t do any crazy poses, and I didn’t know all the yoga words. In those first few months I was existing in a haze of numbness and dull heartbreak. I would show up with my mat and my cheap yoga pants and a deep need to focus on something else. When I got on the mat, when I had to fight against my body and pay attention to my breathing and still my mind – I was doing something that I hadn’t done in so long – I was finally focusing on me. Every single part of me. I was finally giving myself the attention that I deserved from myself. You see, yoga isn’t some hard or complicated exercise – it is simply your body, your breath, and your mind. It is you. Everyone can show up with their body and a pair of stretchy pants and a willingness to learn. A willingness to get to know yourself. That’s all you need.
I think people think that they have to be a certain amount of flexible or athletic or “mindful” to practice yoga. I know I thought that. But I would argue that the more “inexperienced” you are at yoga, the more you will get out of it. Because you will learn the most about your body during that time, and you’ll be forced to face the thoughts your mind generates in idle moments. I am still learning so much from my time on the mat. I am learning to be patient with myself. I am learning when to push and when to be gentle. I can now fully appreciate my body, and better control my mind. I use my time on the mat to talk to God, and to receive His love for me in moments of meditation. I can now proudly say that yoga is not just for hippie girls with plants, yoga is for anyone who wants to know and love themselves better. Thank you for letting me share my heart with you.