I took myself to yoga today for the first time in several months. I chose to go on my own and purposely told no one about it. Could I endure it? Not physically, but mentally?
I practiced yoga for many years in Argentina, but since being back in the US, I’ve had a hard time finding a class and an instructor I like. While this didn’t stop me from searching for the missing puzzle piece, it did make me lazy over time. Eventually, I arrived at the excuse of “I simply don’t want to do yoga as my main workout each week because I’m bored of it.” For the most part, I eliminated it from of my routine, with the exception of a special occasion for charity, a few poses I’ve always done before and after exercising and, of course, my headstands, because I love them.
After much reflection, I finally understood the real reason behind my disenchantment with yoga: it wasn’t the practice itself, rather the quieting of my mind that seemed extremely daunting. I didn’t want to deal with what would come out, as I also didn’t want to deal with the flexibility I’ve lost over the years due to lack of practice. I didn’t want to acknowledge the reality that I was no longer as connected to my body and as centered as I once was.
Excuses, excuses, excuses. So I forced myself to go today. I put a reminder on my calendar three weeks ago and told myself I wasn’t allowed to cancel this date. The class is the one held every Tuesday at Grace Cathedral, and while it’s for beginners, they have beautiful live music and the church’s interior gives off a genuine feeling of calm and tranquility.
It wasn’t as bad as I had led myself to believe. (I’m my own worst enemy, after all). I made my mind focus on what my body was doing, and every so often –when I remembered—on my breath, as well. At one point, I looked up and saw a very old woman participating in the class and I teared up as I thought, “I miss my grandparents. And I wish they had as much life in them as she does.”
I was patient with myself during the process. I was kind. I reminded myself that it had been a while and I was a bit out of form, but that was OK. I forgave myself for having been so harsh in the past. I pushed my body to keep going. And when I lost my balance, my mind whispered, “Try again.”
When we laid down for the last meditation, memories flooded my mind. I was suddenly watching myself in my bedroom in Argentina as I cried after having received a call from my mother letting me know one of my dearest family members had passed in a car accident a few hours before, during the night I was out partying with my friends after having aced my last final of my first year of college.
As I looked at my 19-year-old self, that little girl that struggled to comprehend what she had just heard while tears instinctively poured out of her eyes, I said to her in my mind’s most compassionate voice, “It’s OK baby. I promise you’ll be OK,” and realized the end of 2016 will mark the 10th anniversary of that death.
It is a death I carry with me, even if I don’t think about it all the time anymore. And it is memories similar to this one and that of my grandparents and their perils, among many others, from which I was running away.
Running is exhausting. I’m ready to deal with what I’ve repressed, and learn to let it go, and forgive myself whenever necessary, and move on. Yoga is one of many ways to do this, because you are able to observe your body changing and your mind becoming more in tune with the All of You while you deal with whatever issues come up.
Except you don’t deal with them alone. You have your beautiful self to hang on to and lean on.
Photo by: A friend of mine / Buenos Aires, Argentina