They say when it comes to change, let go or be dragged.
No one likes change. Good or bad, it can be a bumpy ride to confusion, inner turmoil and a refrigerator full of comfort food.
That’s what’s so great about yoga: it can be sweet, but it can also be sneaky. Not sneaky like I’m-gonna-shank-you, more like close-your-eyes-and-trust-me. Then it goes behind your back, takes your shortcomings and your darkest fears, throws them in a blender and pulverizes them to an unrecognizable, pulpous mess, at which point you realize there’s no going back because your coping skills have been robbed. You have no choice but to let yourself fall apart on the mat, trust the ones who have come before you and ease on down that road toward the unknown.
It’s a good thing they don’t tell you this in the beginning. I would’ve run like hell.
After 16 years of yoga, this is what happened to me while I wasn’t paying attention:
I don’t starve myself. I don’t live on Diet Coke and Tic Tacs all day. The waif look is so 90’s.
I trust people over 30. Grownups have kids, and mortgages, and responsibilities. I used to think they were just boring slaves to the dreaded “man.” They’re a generation (or two) removed from the under 30, vodka and Red Bull drinking, ecstasy poppin’, “selfie” taking, pregnant-at-16, twerking kids of today. Are these 20-something hellcats really the future? I never thought I’d say this, but a little maturity ain’t the worst thing in the world. (By the way, Jack Weinberg, the 1960’s activist who coined the phrase “don’t trust anyone over 30,” is now in his 70’s.)
I don’t wear all black all the time. (OK, sometimes I do… but much much less frequently.) Not that I’m ever draped in bright, Pepto Bismol pink or any other shiny, happy color you might see around Easter time. I saw someone the other day at yoga wearing ripped up black tights with a black Siouxsie and the Banshees shirt. And you know what? It was a bitchin’ look.
I don’t go out dressed like a slut, get drunk and bang random dudes. First of all, my husband wouldn’t dig it. Second, just going out to walk my dog without a bra on makes me feel reckless enough.
I get up early. Somehow, I became a morning person.
I tell the people in my life I love them, out loud, all the time. Thanks to all those Urdhva Dhanurasanas, I have an open heart. “I love you” is important when one of your parents passes away, when you realize your dog doesn’t have much time left, when your best friend moves across the country to freakin’ Georgia and when your mother-in-law in Australia calls you her daughter. I love you all.
I don’t like guns. I just don’t think they’re sexy or cool. This isn’t the old west, and as far as I know you aren’t a Crip or a Blood. Maybe go to a meditation and do something to promote peace on earth instead of threatening it, intimidating it, hurting it and trying to kill it.
I don’t kill spiders. How would you like to be picked up with a tissue and flushed down the toilet?
I recycle. I never gave a shit before. And it’s not like I was preoccupied my work as an activist on the part of the sad state of global suffering. It was somehow just too much trouble. Which leads me to…
I give a shit about stuff that matters. There’s little stuff; I’m never late to work, I don’t gamble away my rent money in Vegas and I make coffee in the morning for my husband because I get up like, four hours before him and it makes him feel special. Then there’s stuff like being with my mother when she was spending her last days in assisted living. And stuff like making it out to my brother’s wedding in Connecticut, even though I have an such an extreme fear of flying that I’d rather eat a huge bowl of pudding made entirely out of tarantulas.
I don’t give a shit about stuff that doesn’t matter. I’m not about to throw a fit if my husband drank the last Orange Crush. (Which he just did.)
I don’t have regrets. Are there things in my life I wish I did differently? Of course. Could I have made better choices? Obviously. That’s just life. But there’s absolutely zero point in regret. I’m talking about everything from the bad decisions after one margarita too many, the time you cut bangs, the pointless relationships and the silly poetry you wrote in the wake of their failure, and everything in between.
I didn’t finish college, I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff and maybe I ate too much raw cookie dough today. So what? I love my life.
I grew up. Never saw that one coming. I still feel 17, I still get the edgy when I see a police car behind me and at any given time my husband can walk in the door and, surprise! I’ve dyed my hair fire engine red! I’m still trying to find my way, and I’m not sure where I belong half the time. But no one can tell me what’s right for me. I already know anyway.
I believe heaven reveals itself to us right here on earth. Yoga cracked my heart open and sat right down. It revealed a place to me I never would have known existed, where there’s happy people, love for miles and fizzy lifting drinks. It rules, and it rules hard. It makes you feel alive, like a football game in the third overtime in the freezing cold. It’s brave, like the guy who sprints though a crowded airport all the way to the gate to tell you he loves you and to beg you to not get on that plane. (That’s for you guys who fly.) It’s unafraid to live, to tell the truth and to walk the righteous path toward freedom from the bondage of self.
Is this heaven on earth? You bet your sweet ass it is.
So friends, strike a pose, there’s nothing to it. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Now call your mom and tell her you love her.
That’s what yoga is all about.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: elephant archives