A girlfriend of mine had a few of us in stitches the other day as she played at being me in relationship with my mat... "Oh, mat, how I long to be with you." "Oh, mat, I can barely tear myself away from you" "I cannot stand to be apart from you" "I am counting the hours until we can be together again" ... and on and on with a level of dramatic flair that I honestly don't usually add when I'm contemplating the joys of my yoga practice. It was made more funny because the conversation moments ago was centering around her own struggle to get herself onto the mat and to start a home practice - something she's wanted for many many years. We discussed working with resistance and slugging through to get to the point of practice. And then she made it seem like for me that was all child's play and I'm in a space of deep love and wild passionate connection with my mat and therefore my practice. We all laughed.
I laugh because I do love my practice. I am so grateful that I am able to practice yoga with my body, and that I have enough interest to keep at it even when it is a challenge. But to make the step from normal every day life into the sacred space of my mat is not particularly easy at this point. I, honestly, many days would rather take a nap. But as mentioned in my last post, I'm doing my best to consistently use my freedom to choose yoga - because it consistently supports me to keep on going in my life. In a knock-down-drag-out way I have to keep on going. There isn't space to choose to NOT keep going (as in doing all those things for other people that I listed last week). Well to be honest there IS space, I just choose not to hop a plane to Bali, or go live in an ashram, or numb out in my relationships 100% of the time. So I do choose yoga again and again.
And here's the thing. Yoga consistently shows up and saves me. My personal yoga practice was about two years in when my daughter was born. Suddenly I was a stay-at-home mom to a young infant and all of my time and energy was given into this other person. Introverted by nature and then tied down by nap schedules and anxiety I found myself isolated and lonely. The only piece of my old world that stayed steady and didn't change was yoga. And I ran to it. Thank goodness! In the quiet hours in the house when I couldn't leave or make noise, yoga seemed like the only choice that would actually do anything positive for me.
So I'd step on the mat and go on quiet wild adventures. My mat always met me and always supported me and never disappeared. My practice was always there for me. And for a little while during each day I could remember a connection to something greater than myself. And I got to feel a connection to my teachers, to students, to friends that loved me and saw me, even if I felt like I had disappeared and didn't know when I'd resurface. Practicing yoga brought a sense of power and control to a life that felt wildly out of control. Thank goodness. I swear, a year after my daughter was born, when I went away for the first time to teacher training for 6 days I suddenly realized how underwater I'd been - and coming back with the yoga community felt like taking my first breath of air in over a year. Having that training and my practice felt like life support.
And so, the drive and call to be on my mat was extremely real then. It was honestly, life or death. Life or submission to depression and martyrdom to motherhood. I chose Life.
When you've been through something like that with someone, it leaves a mark. A deep impression on my soul and in my being. And so that is why my yoga practice has a deep and important place in my life and in my heart. Without it I might not have survived those first years of motherhood and remained a recognizable, functioning AWAKE person.
Now. Today, it's not quite the desperate and passionate love affair that it was a few years ago. I'm not counting the hours until I can get back there, and I'm coping with the resistance as it surfaces. I'm not in that passionate life-or-death love, instead I'm in a sweeter kinder space with myself and my practice. It does continue to show up for me. It does continue to "save" me, or at least continue to help me slough off the damage of the world. I do my best these days to let my practice be a safe haven and a call home to myself and the great Heart. When I forget and get called out by the stories of my life, yoga helps me re-center and remember my place in it all. Not invisible and not the center of the universe. Normal and seated in my heart, just like everyone else.
What I know is, my story is not unique. Many students come to me and say the yoga came into their lives at a particular moment and opened an otherwise closed doorway into personal transformation that was needing to happen. And it continues to provide a kind place in the wildness of this fast-paced world. I hope that my teaching reflects the inherent love and power in this great practice. I hope it inspires the students to keep at it, and keep on choosing to tether to the mat, to the Heart, first. Because in my dream world we are all healed, no one is lonely, and everyone remembers his or her inherent goodness. To get there will take some support - and for me yoga works.