Friday, July 29, 2011

Dear Yoga: A Love Letter


Dear Yoga,

We've spent a lot of time together over the last five years. From that college class I crashed when I first moved to Nacogdoches to my beloved Morning Glory Yoga Studios, you've helped me grow and change and even, on occasion, stand on my head. It was through you that I met some of my dearest friends in this town. It was through you that I developed my love for red wine. It was through you that I began to accept my body's limitations, even while pushing myself to break through new barriers.


You see, Yoga, the lessons I learn on the mat don't stop at the studio. The deeper I develop my practice, the more I'm able to apply you to every aspect of my life. Yoga, as you know, is a process. One does not enter the studio with all the ability, all the talent, that one will ever possess. This seems like an obvious statement, but it's not. You see I'm the kind of person who likes to be good at things the first time around. If I don't have an immediate talent for something, I give up and move on to something that holds more promise. This is why I never bothered to learn an instrument, why I chose to be a writer instead of a dancer. We all have our strengths, I told myself, and sticking with those things is safer, easier, logical.


Then along came you. I was not good at you at first. My legs were tight. I could not touch my toes. My balance was shaky, at best. My body was not lithe like my instructors or the women who stood at the front of the room. I have curves. I am soft. My muscles hide under layers of skin. But I had friends in class. I liked slowing down and focusing on the task at hand. I enjoyed the music and the meditation and the stretching helped my back loosen and bend in ways that it never had before. I kept coming back to you, yoga. Even though it wasn't love at first sight, even though our connection wasn't instantaneous, I kept on trying.

Eventually, I found my groove. I discovered that a yoga practice has layers. Today, I am good at balance poses. I love standing on my head. I have excellent stamina and can do sun salutations all day long. The other day, I got into side crow without a second thought and didn't even flinch when I lost my balance and my head clunked against the floor. Today, I put my mat down proudly at the front of the room. I may not look like a yogi, but that's exactly what I am.


Yoga, you gave me courage to try new things. Would I have had the confidence to join a roller derby league, to train for and run a marathon, to uproot my life and start an MFA program if it wasn't for all those warriors, those triangles, those pigeons, those twists? I can't say for sure, but my guess is probably not. There was a time when I could not touch my toes, but every week I came to class and reached for them anyway. Each week my fingers stretched the slightest bit farther. And then, one day, I made contact. I wrapped my fingers around my toes and held on for dear life, and in that moment I understood that anything is possible.

For all the lessons you have taught me and all the wisdom I have yet to learn: thank you, Yoga. Namaste.

21 comments:

  1. Beautiful. This makes me want to love yoga. You have hit the nail on the head for why I don't enjoy it though - I'm not good at it right away. I should try again.

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  2. This brought a tear to my eye. 

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  3. Absolutely beautiful.  "There was a time when I could not touch my toes, but every week I came to class and reached for them anyway. Each week my fingers stretched the slightest bit farther. And then, one day, I made contact. I wrapped my fingers around my toes and held on for dear life, and in that moment I understood that anything is possible." = possibly the most eloquent and insightful thing that I've read on a blog in a very long time. 

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  4. I've never done yoga for the same reasons and I'm very shy in classes. Thank you for this beautiful post. I may be following in your footsteps very soon :)

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  5. Larissa Philpot5:35 PM, July 29, 2011

    We will miss you Chrissy!  Come back and visit us!

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  6. The essence of yoga, for me, is not reaching your toes, but to keep trying each time. This has reminded me to get back on the mat. I do yoga in periods. I've been on a non-yoga stretch lately and I need to get back on the mat. Because, like you, I love yoga!

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  7. i enjoy that you have humility in your words. i believe this is something yoga must teach, if one is truly learning. far better to hear your experience with yoga than from one of the many vain yogis that enjoys far too much the "glory" of photographing his or herself stretched and contorted into a pretzel...their name attached to a registered trademark. as a society, i find we are very competitive. surely yoga is the one place a person (especially a woman) should feel free to go and study through her mind and with her body without feeling insecure. i have often been to big city yoga studios, and couldn't help but notice how far behind i felt in comparison. then i recalled, "hey, Ashland...are you SERIOUS? This is yoga, not the gym!"
    you possess the qualities of a true yogi.
    it's not about how far you bend, or how yoga magazine-worthy you are, and i think so many people forget that and become lost in the "me" of it.
    i appreciate this post more than ever :) best wishes to you in the days to come.

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  8. Monika / my sweet prairie2:54 AM, July 30, 2011

    awesome.  I love your blog.  p.s.  I was raised by a woman who did yoga daily.  I get it.  : )
    ~Monika

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  9. Incredible post. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. :)

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  10. Beautiful post, my dear.  I love reading your thoughts and feelings about yoga, which is very close to my heart, even though it's not always easy to step onto the mat.

    And I totally agree with what Raquelita said.  I got chills, reading that final section.

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  11. Thanks, Arrie. I'll miss you!
     

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  12. What a wonderful compliment! Thank you so much. I'm glad you liked it. :)

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  13. I hope so! You won't regret it. 

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  14. I will! I hope to go on the retreat to Costa Rica, if scheduling and finances work out. Fingers crossed!

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  15. Exactly. Yoga is the journey to the poses, not the poses themselves. Like so much in life. :)

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  16. Ashland, thank you so much for your comment. I'm about to leave my studio due to moving out of state, and I'm trying to remind myself that a yoga practice is one thing you can easily take anywhere. I will miss my studio very much, but the things I learned there will be with me forever. 

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  17. Monika, thanks for the comment and stopping by! Daily yoga seems like a wonderful practice. :)

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  18. Thanks for being a part of my yoga journey! 

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  19. That is a real compliment, coming from a blogger as fine as yourself. Thanks, Rose-Anne.

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  20. And thank you for being a part of mine. It's been wonderful!

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  21. So awesome! thank you for such a wonderful reminder of why we do yoga. XO Miss you already!

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