I broke up with yoga.
It wasn’t yoga, it was me.
I needed a change.
I just wasnt getting what I needed from the relationship.
I was in a rut and had to get out……fast.
I must admit that for quite some time my relationship with yoga was a bit abusive. Somewhat tumultuous. I was constantly using and abusing everything that it had to offer me.
For a time my practice was purely physical. No emotion at all. What I wanted was to get a workout out of my practice. To move through a sweaty, vinyasa flow and feel like I really worked my body. If I didn’t get that, I felt like I wasted my time. I was pissed off. I wanted to leave my mat completely drenched in sweat, exhausted and with a sense of accomplishment. It was nothing for me to practice 5-6 times a week and sometimes more than once a day just to get that feeling. I focused more on having a physically demanding practice. I pushed myself to get into the challenging postures with no regard of how my body would respond. I would do every single posture in order to get the “most” out of my workout and by the time savasana came around my mind was on overdrive and I would get anxiety from all the crap going on in my head.
I never allowed myself to be open and vulnerable enough in my practice. To actually let emotions come up and deal with those as I moved through the asanas. I continually held back anything negative that wanted to surface. I just flat out didn’t want to deal with any of that. All I wanted was to burn some calories and sweat.
And that is when I got into my rut.
I hit a wall. I didn’t want to practice anymore. My body was worn out and I was constantly in pain. I was in the chiropractor’s office every week getting adjusted and my body started to feel foreign to me. I was pissed off and angry all the time. My mind was constantly running and I couldn’t figure out how to quiet it. I was completely disconnected from who I was and who I wanted to be and what I should be getting out of my time on my mat.
So, I took a break. I spent some time reflecting on my practice over the past few years and how much it had evolved.
I remembered when I would step on my mat needing to deal with whatever shit life had dealt me. I would find this amazing connection to my breath, body and practice and when the physical practice was over and I lied in savasana, I would be overwhelmed with peace and calmness. Everything would dissolve and I would know in that moment that everything is going to be okay. I treated my practice exactly how it should be treated: as a work in, not a work out. It’s a time for us to take everything that life has given us, holding on to what we need to and letting go of what we dont. To find acceptance, patience, peace, comfort, strength, openness, whatever it is that we are looking for, and to forget about everything else. It has absolutely nothing to do with how many calories we burn or how great our abs look. Those are all great things and are terrific by-products of the physical asanas but they are by no means the reason why we step on the mat. If anyone tells you that, shame on them. And shame on me for even thinking that is what my practice should be about.
I lost my way.
And i knew I needed to make a change quickly. I needed to go back to the root of my practice. To get clear on what my physical practice meant to me. I started to ask myself “how do I want to feel when I leave my mat?” I realized that what I wanted to gain from my yoga practice had nothing to do with the physical aspects of it but everything to do with what I was craving emotionally and spiritually. My mat is my psychologist, my lover, my best friend, my god, at times a complete stranger and occasionally my own worst enemy all wrapped into one. It’s a place I go to figure shit out. To marinate on things and to connect with my beliefs of who I am, what I want, how I want to feel and to throw away everything that gets in the way of me getting closer to my truth.
So, I decided to get back on my mat. But this time I would take things nice and slow. Not expecting anything serious to happen at first. Just flirting with what might come up when I let go of what my practice should look like or how physical it needed to be in order for me to feel “accomplished”. My practice has changed drastically. I don’t get on my mat as often as I once did. I’ve learned that I only need it a couple of times a week. Not every single day. And I’ve learned to listen to what my body wants and to ignore whatever my ego is shouting at me.
There are times when I may not leave child’s pose for half the class and other days I am moving around all over my mat popping up into handstand after handstand. Adrenaline yogi. Endorphin yogi. Chill yogi. Vinyasa yogi.Restorative yogi. Regardless of what yoga hat I have on each time I’m on my mat, I finally understand what its all about. Why I practice.
Its about connection.
Connecting to myself.
To my truth.
To my breath.
To my physical body .
To the core of my soul and the light in my heart.
Sure, I still crave a sweaty, physically demanding practice from time to time. I seek that challenge and like to be pushed to my edge. But if it doesn’t make my heart go pitter patter and light my fire, I’m not interested. I’ve learned to listen more to what I need. Meditation and journaling have helped me get in tune with the core of my soul and what it is yearning for every single day. I have completely fallen in love with my practice again. It’s a damn good feeling.