Heart Yoga

I started going to this yoga studio in my neighborhood. I like being in the studio occasionally to get instruction and adjustment and also- community. But mostly I’m going because I get a free week the first week and one of my friends teaches there.

Tonight, I got home later than planned and a flat bike tire meant no long Tuesday night ride for tacos (not really #eatingcleanchallenge0414 friendly anyway) so I made a quick omelet, scarfed some veggies and hummus and went to the 7:45 Power I class.

All the Power I classes are structured the same- there are some basics poses that are practiced- Sun Salutations A &B, ukastana (chair pose), pigeon and of course, crow. I’ve done these poses a thousand times. But today was different. It felt hard. I couldn’t get my hips squared in warrior. I couldn’t release my neck in ANY pose. My quads burned during ukastana. I felt frustrated that I couldn’t get it right and just move fluidly through the poses. I felt awkward and it felt like a struggle.

The instructor said some things during class that struck me. He talked about being in our bodies. Feeling what is happening inside our bodies when we move through the poses. Focusing inward on our spirit and flowing through the movements however our body allows. Then, finally, towards the end, he said something that resonated with me. We were hugging our knees to our chest after doing some floor poses and he said ‘Don’t just half hug yourself. No one likes that when hugging someone for real- that half hug where they pull away slightly. REALLY hug you. If you can’t love yourself, how do you think other people could? Hug yourself hard.’

So I did.

I squeezed my knees in and really hugged me. I felt IN my body. I realized, in that moment, how much I’ve been living outside myself. How I’ve been so focused on all the outer circumstances that I haven’t been loving myself very well. I’m in a job I don’t love and I’m in a place in life that feels unsure. I gained a couple pounds over the winter and it’s been a struggle to get it off.

I’ve been focused on food intake and exercise output and how that affects the scale. I’ve been doing the old binge and hate yourself and then eat ‘good’ the next day routine. I’ve been focused on how those extra pounds feel under my skin and I don’t like it. So I’ve punished me. I’ve given up sleep and rest to go for that extra run or make that early class just so I don’t feel ‘guilty’ about the salads and fruits I’m eating during the day. I’ve counted calories and pinched extra bits on my body in disgust and adjusted and readjusted before anyone notices the muffin top peeking over my jeans.

I’ve been focused on all the negative things happening at my job. The poor communication. Working on the weekends. I’ve been focused on who shows up and doesn’t show up for meetings and who is picking up the slack and frankly, how some people are still employed in management. So I’ve gotten negative and harsh and critical. I’ve been defiant and mean and cursed a lot. I’ve bucked the system and gotten mad and threatened to leave.

I’ve been focused on my future. And what is and isn’t happening in it. Where I’m going and where I’ve been. Where I want to be and where I don’t. I’ve been focused on what could happen or what could not happen and how do I feel about that? And what should I do? And how should I prepare for impact? So I’ve retreated. I’ve avoided decisions and confrontations. I have skirted around hard conversations and continued to feel out of place and honestly, a bit lost.

I’ve felt anxious and unhappy.
I’ve felt alone and unsure.
I haven’t felt like me.

But tonight- for 20 seconds during that self hug, I felt me.

I felt that all the things happening right now are happening because they are supposed to. I felt a wave of comfort and calm wash over me and I felt that love deep within. I quit feeling uncomfortable in my skin, anxious about work and worried about life- I just felt ME.

I prayed right that second for the Holy Spirit to just continually fill me with that love. To continue to remind me of all the good that is still happening in seemingly overwhelming circumstances. My frustration with my yoga practice today is probably because I went to kick-boxing before work this morning and gave it my all, left my worries on the floor with my sweat. My frustration with my job is because it’s a challenge and an opportunity for me to grow, learn and show love and positivity to those I work with. Even if it’s not my passion, I can still empower others and be salt and light. My frustration with my future and life is a lesson being learned in patience, trust and most of all, humility.

I’ve gone to this yoga studio twice this week. Both times I was adjusted by the instructor. In shavasana. Corpse pose. I mean, who gets adjusted during relaxing? But the instructor came and pushed down my shoulders, stretched my neck and rubbed around the edge of my face and up towards my brow and it just calmed me and in that moment, I felt that prayer being answered. I felt full of light and love and also fully aware of ME- the limits of my body and also the infinite stretches of my spirit.

Walking home from the studio, I was forming this post in my mind. I’ve been so neglectful of the things I care about that really center me (hello- writing!) and I’ve been trying really hard to make a lot of things just happen for me. I’m starting to wonder if maybe some of those things I’ve been pushing so hard at aren’t meant to be. That maybe sometimes life hands you lemons and you don’t get lemonade. Sometimes you just get a crapton of lemons to deal with and you just have to lug them around until you find the sugar and ice and transformation can take place.

I didn’t solve all my problems today and tomorrow there will be a whole host of new ones.

But, for a few minutes today, I loved myself well.

Me. In my Easter getup. This dress makes me feel like a million bucks. Also? Like a character off Mad Men. 

PS. I guessed on how to spell all the Sanskrit names. Phonetics only. You’re welcome.

PPS. You should read this article. And then stop being that girl. I know you are her. Because I am too. We all are. Let’s start loving ourselves more. (Thanks for sharing the article Emily! Love you!!)

PPSS (? I honestly don’t know what comes after PPS) 
And also, stop saying ‘Oh you’re being good?’ when someone is eating healthy. No one is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ based on food choices. Just stop. (Thanks for that one Christina- I can’t stop correcting myself since you said that!).