Yoga reminded me I wasn’t broken in the first place.
Yoga is a very important piece of my life. But just like anything that is important in your life, if you hold on too tightly it – the moment and the meaning – will slip right through your fingers.
I’ve been practicing yoga poses for upwards of 15 years. Looking back, I could even argue that I was practicing “yoga” since the age of 12. Particularly the Seva yoga or Karma yoga, the yoga of selfless service to others. Yep, I was that kid. The kid that got labels like, “sensitive,” “good,” “golden,” “harmonious” “self-less,” “responsible.” Most of those words either started with “too” before the word or “one” after the word. I was the neighborhood sooth-sayer, caring for hurt siblings, out-casted neighborhood friends and wayward animals. These labels were my first understanding of the role I played in life and who I have always known myself to be – an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold or arms to hug. I never did any of these thing because I felt “better than,” I wanted to make others feel included, cared for and ultimately loved. These days it is the most important role in my life and the only reason why I teach yoga.
Those labels weren’t necessarily “bad.” The thing about labels, though, is all labels put folks into files, stored in boxes, neatly placed on shelves. Ask anyone who knows me, I’m neither good at being uniform or limited, nor do I like straight lines or neat anything. I’m pretty sure the word “neat” isn’t even in my vocabulary, unless you are talking about something “cool.”
So what does any of this have to do with yoga??
I strayed a bit from that life above. I was fleeing my perceptions of the expectations of others, moved out west to find myself and conquer my demons and in so doing, I inevitably lost myself. I wasn’t perfect. I never felt perfect. But, I was always trying to be a version of “perfect.” I’m not even sure I knew what it meant to be perfect, but I definitely didn’t feel close. These were my beliefs that I bought and sold to myself when I was young. They were my truths, mostly false. And then Yoga walked in.
Yoga came into my life as a invite from an insightful angel of a friend. I don’t remember her name, but I remember her insistence that I needed to give “this yoga thing” a go. I also remember the anxiousness of my first class, and the relief that I had a friend to stand by my side. I don’t remember much of the class, but I remember the feeling I had after. It was the feeling you get when you spontaneously bump into an old, dear friend that you haven’t seen in years, and didn’t realize how empty your life has been without, until the very moment of a chance meeting.
Yoga brought me back to myself. A friend whom I’d lost, was found. I had no idea, until that very moment, how much I missed her. Back then, if you asked me, I would have said that yoga healed my broken heart & filled a hole that had been growing without me even knowing. But the truth is, yoga didn’t fix me or save my life. What yoga did was much more intentional. Yoga reminded me I wasn’t broken in the first place. It was everything I needed in that moment and nothing I didn’t already know.
Don’t get me wrong, the above ahh-haa didn’t come immediately. At the start of my asana (pose) yoga practice, I felt extremely lopsided, even broken. I believed I had a broken heart, an imperfect existence, constantly was trying to fix everything and ultimately saving nothing. Along with losing myself, I lost my confidence & my joy for life. Yoga was CPR for the soul. It was my second wind to pick myself up and try again, #yogaeverydamnday.
The yoga message, however, takes on less meaning if I treat the yoga as the drug that will heal all my wounds vs. the wisdom that brings me back to all the answers that have been inside me from the start. Yoga can be anything I need it to be – a workout, a meditation, a spiritual practice, all of the above and none of it. But when all is said and done, I found and continue my yoga as a whole and perfect person, continuously growing & creating new versions of myself. I am the only person who can save myself.
If I’m broken, I dropped myself & I must be the one to pick myself up.
If I’m lost, I abandoned myself.
And if I choose to be found, it needs to be me leading the search & rescue mission.
Yoga as a drug is the world curing me. Yoga as wisdom is me curing the world.
This doesn’t mean I can’t find or be a cheerleader or teacher along the way for myself or someone else. But I need to remember to leave the heavy lifting to the experts.
No one knows me, or my life better than myself. I am the expert. And so are you.