There is the person I am on the yoga mat, and then there is the person I am off the yoga mat. On the mat, I am mindful and precise. Feeling each and every movement I make and each breath I take. This precision makes me feel strong and empowered. There is nothing I need to rush through physically, or check out of mentally, because each breath I take reminds me “I’ve got this”. The strength I feel on the mat is more than just muscle. It’s an inner knowing that I can handle what comes my way and everything is exactly as it should be. On the mat, I am a warrior goddess. My strong parts are bad ass, and my soft parts are feminine and beautiful. My body can stretch and hold itself into amazing shapes and I sometimes feel in awe of myself. When I’m on my mat, I feel joy. For no particular reason at all, there is an inner zest and feelings of connection – and in these moments it’s all good. During savasana, when I am on my mat, I am complete, whole and perfect.
When I am off my mat I am insecure. My strong parts aren’t strong enough and my soft parts are gross and fat – they need to be hidden! Day to day, I go through the motions and at times feel dull and often ask the question; is this all there is ? I feel unconnected as I rush through my day, working hard to make enough to pay the bills and then sleeping just to wake up and do it all over again. Then there are the times, that because of all of the above, I completely checkout. I zone out while binging on Netflix. I escape being in my body and my mind, because it isn’t a comfortable place to be. When I am off my mat, I feel alone. I don’t know who I can trust, who understands the real me and my struggles. When I’m far from my mat, I feel like I am in limbo – on the brink of living life but not quite there yet. Where is my perfect partner, house and white picket fence?
BUT….The time I spend on my mat teaches me that nothing is perfect, beautiful and amazing 100% of the time. Life is full of joy, sadness, yearning, fullness, dispair and bliss. The yoga is finding the place in the middle. Little by little, I start to realize that my feelings of loneliness and sadness will pass. I might feel the sun or the breeze and connect with simple bliss and be rescued from those feelings of drowning. The more I practice, the more that person on the mat makes her way into my everyday life. But the other person, who lives off the mat is valuable and worthy, too. I take them both, and in the middle, I find myself.
This week I was inspired to take out the books I have on yin yoga, as well as take a yin class on YogaGlo. First of all, yin yoga is amazing because you can do it on your bed! But really besides that, I have enjoyed slowing down a bit. With it already being August I am reminded again how quickly time seems to fly by. Then I start to think back on what I’ve done and accomplished- whether it’s in my work life, social life or in general and that makes me think of all the things I want to get done and do and see….and here I am; in the past, in the future, and letting the NOW slip right by. Well, yoga puts you in the moment. And a slow, gentle practice stretches those little moments out so you begin to notice more, feel more and enjoy more. I want to live my days as if it were a yin yoga practice- soaking up each breath, feeling every sensation in my body and being fully present.
Nurture. Grow. Rebuild. These two words seem to perfectly describe my yoga practice as of lately. I’m not as interested in the fancy asana, but what serves my body (my temple) and my mind today…this moment. When we get into a routine we seem to maintain. Keep the status quo and just get by. Until something goes wrong to shake this up, and we realize the ground underneath us is not always as stable as we may like to think. Something breaks, a heart, or a bone, and we hurt and need to mend. In our own bodies this takes time; to feel broken and then whole again. As it is happening, the mending or connecting back together, the process seems slow like it’s never going to be OK again. But weeks, months, or years later when things are OK, we know for a fact we can heal and stop hurting.
Last week, I bought a bunch of flowers and as I was trimming some of the leaves and the ends to put them in the vase one flower broke off from its stem. It was alive, beautiful and vibrant with color, so I didn’t want to throw it out. Instead, I just stuck it in the middle of the bunch, to be held up, but the stem wasn’t long enough to be immersed in water. After a day or so, it began to wilt, to die. Still not wanting to throw it in the garbage, I put it in a small ball jar so the stem could reach water. Within an hour the petals became succulent with life, they lifted up, in fact the whole stem was bent and collapsed and it completely resurrected when flushed with water, its life source. This happens to us. We are bent, broken, petals wilted but with the help of our life source, breath, connection, yoga we can rise up again and become whole. The flower can accelerate the process as proof of where we will get, if it takes us more time, so be it.