roughly a year ago i tentatively stepped into the world of yoga.
i never believed yoga to be an achievable goal for me. no, i said, my body cannot possibly move like that! i cannot stretch like that, breathe like that, move like that. i could not. and i would not. so i did not. for twenty years i snubbed yoga. my attitude changed, however, over the winter break of my junior year in college (december 2009). something about yoga intrigued me. suddenly, what seemed so foreign and so unreachable felt utterly obtainable.
i started slowly, struggling through short twenty minute exercise tv videos. although i huffed and puffed through the poses, something felt so right. the movements pulled me in new directions. my body surprised me — it moved into positions i thought impossible. i quickly fell in love with yoga but treated it like a distant friend: we hung out sometimes but never regularly. i did bikram. i did power yoga. but i much preferred running, or so i thought. unlike yoga, running provided me the cardio i needed, the strength i needed, and the endurance i need…or so i thought.
flash forward to the end of june 2010. yoga moved farther and farther away from my in the month between winter break and june. running did not. running stuck to me like an impatient four year old intent on destroying my sanity. instead of waking up energized and ready and willing to run, i woke up sore, tired, and just plain miserable. my knees hurt. my hamstrings ached. but i needed to run because i needed to burn calories. whatever fun i originally found in running vanished. i was so out of touch with my body and so out of touch with my self that i took a moment to reconsider running. this is when i finally started acknowledging what i knew all along — i hated running.
so i quit. cold turkey. and embraced yoga like never before. and i have yet to relinquish my tight grip on my rediscovered best friend. yoga calms me. it centers me. it’s my counselor and is always there. when i step onto my mat i step into an awareness of myself — of my flaws, my strengths, my abilities — and i let go. yoga saved me from myself. it helped me realize how i abused my body through running. it helped me realize how out of control my food anxieties and disordered eating were. it helped me understand movement as pleasure, not as a means to burn calories. it simply helped me be.
i am in no way cured of my exercise and food anxieties but i can say with confidence yoga has granted me the strength and forgiveness to move forward positively. i have watched my body and mind connection change incredibly. i am conscious of the temple my body is now and conscious of how the word “respect” relates to it. without yoga, i am not sure where i would be.
i look forward to delving deeper into my practice and a future as a yoga teacher. and if you’re struggling to find your center and your balance and the thought of quieting your racing mind seems impossible, i encourage you to turn to yoga — you’ll never know what you’ll discover.