I am in a wonderful, tumultuous, complex and yet fulfilling long-term relationship… with yoga.
We started dating 19 years ago when I was a blushing young maiden of 18. Yoga came into my life and swept me off my feet with promises of handstands and enlightenment. Indeed, the rewards and breakthroughs came fast and easily, as long as I gave yoga time and attention.
After a few years, my yoga mat’s shine diminished and the bouquets of flowers and candlelit dinners became more sporadic. I seemed to reach a plateau in the advancement of physical postures and we settled into a comfortable, yet at time unstimulating routine. Hours-long practice sessions filled with primal sweat and increasingly higher states of consciousness eventually cooled to 20-minute “quickies” interspersed with frequent naps. When we argued, I often left with hurt feelings, and once in a while, physical pain.
At times I questioned my commitment to yoga, feeling like it wasn’t giving me what I wanted and that perhaps it was time for me to move on.
My mother (a long-time yogini and married to my dad for the last 50 years) has always taught me that if I get bored in a relationship, not to stray or look elsewhere, but to make the commitment to go deeper. She has often reminded me to not go around digging shallow wells. I recognized that if I were to stay interested and engaged, I would have to put in the time and effort to go deeper with yoga. We took romantic vacations together (yoga retreats), saw couple’s counsellors (David Swenson, Paul and Rachelle Gold, Jill Miller, Seane Corn, Dharma Mittra) and made the commitment to greet each other every day with fresh eyes, curiosity and loving gratitude.
While friends of mine flirted with—and dated—Tae Bo, belly dancing and Zumba, yoga and I stuck it out. Sometimes we would feel old fashioned and prudish as we witnessed trends like Chocolate Yoga and Disco Yoga sweep the nation.
My commitment paid off, and our love has deepened to one that I know will last a lifetime.
I have come to depend on my practice to keep me grounded, honest and healthy in all aspects of my being. When everything around me is chaotic, my ujjayi breathing and familiar movements reconnect me to my truth and my purpose. Yoga lovingly holds up a mirror for me to see myself and to investigate where there is inner work to be done. The best part about this long-term relationship is that although I am committed to yoga, I am not serious on the mat. My practice feels light, joyful and goal-less. The advanced poses come and go in my practice and that is just fine! I celebrate each moment, thankful for this friend and teacher who has entered my life and plans to stay the course with me.
Cheers to many more years together, my love!
Katie McClelland has been teaching yoga full time since 1997. She likes to joke that she was certified to teach yoga while still in the womb, as her mother went through yoga teacher training while pregnant with her! Katie’s roots are in ashtanga yoga and she derives inspiration from many styles of yoga including Vinyasa, Iyengar, Anusara and Kundalini. Katie is the founder of De La Sol Yoga Studios in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada which first opened in 2006 and expanded to a second location in January of this year. She is the host of Yoga With Katie, a 30min instructional yoga show which airs six days a week and is seen by 900,000 viewers. Recently, Katie has been speaking out at high schools and recovery centers about her history of drug addiction and ongoing journey towards wellness and wholeness. She is currently working on her first book, a memoir titled Waking Up.
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Assistant Ed. Caroline Scherer/Kate Bartolotta