“Inhale, reach up, look up. Exhale, forward fold, look between your thighs…”
– Surya Namaskara A
Thus began my love affair with yoga.
While touring a new health club some years ago, the salesperson mentioned that membership included yoga. After over a decade of poor posture hunching over keyboards and peering at computer screens, I knew my rounded shoulders and tight hamstrings could use a good stretching class, so I agreed.
A stretching class, so I thought. In time, I found so much more.
Every movement was new and awkward at first, but the teachers were kind and encouraging, and I quickly learned that this was more than just stretching! Vinyasa flow classes left me sweat-soaked and out of breath, and I realized that my mind would just shut up and I could actually focus on my body. Meanwhile, the dimmed lights and calming voices of Restorative classes became a space where I felt safe and accepted. I was hooked.
My newfound yoga practice helped me to become more centered, and that sharpened focus helped me put fear aside and work through some stressful life events. Layoffs and severance packages? Inhale, lengthen your spine, look out. Job search? Exhale, palms to the mat, step back to a high plank, then lower. Cross-country relocation? Inhale, press to Upward Facing Dog, look up.
Remember to breathe. Everything begins with the breath.
A thousand miles later, my new studio quickly became my home away from home. As my practice deepened and evolved, it was only a matter of time before my favorite teachers began asking when (not “if”, but when) I would take Yoga Teacher Training. Where the “old me” would have shrank away from the unknown, I instead openly embraced the invitation. YTT opened my eyes to so much more, and my classmates are still some of my dearest friends.
And again, yoga’s quiet grounding and the support of my sangha gave me the courage and the strength to love myself above all else through more tough times: Crumbling marriage? Exhale, hips up to Downward Facing Dog, look between your thighs. Divorce papers? Inhale, step forward, lengthen your spine and look out. Judge’s rulings? Exhale, forward fold, look between your thighs.
Always, always, remember to breathe.
I’ve tried other styles of yoga as my practice continues, but Ashtanga will always feel like “church” to me – it’s 90 minutes where I can put everything else aside, pay mindful attention to this body that I inhabit, and give gratitude for what it can do (for that edge changes every single day!). Meanwhile, meditation clears my mind and helps me to connect with that quiet intuition that we all have deep down inside.
I would not be where I am if it were not for yoga. I would not be who I am were it not for yoga. Yoga helped me to rediscover who I was always meant to be. And I am so, so grateful.
“…Inhale, reach arms overhead, look up. Exhale, return hands to heart center.”
#yogalove #selflove #namaste #lovestories #spreadlove @maravilla_love
All Love Letters’ are pristine, posted as they were received. Please forgive any spelling and grammar issues, since the writing was done in the throes of love, and sometimes love doesn’t care about commas or misplaced letters.