Can we please get back together? I really miss our mornings and afternoons.
I know I used to complain that it was hot and I was tired and all those chaturangas were too hard for my weak arms, and while those things were true and still are true, I realized that I can’t live without you in my life.
We broke up.
Okay fine: I dumped you last winter because I’d decided you didn’t live up to my expectations. You didn’t make me lose weight. In fact, I gained weight and I blamed it on you. I got mad. Yoga was supposed to give me a perfect body and it had been two years, so where was it?
Why had I gone up two entire pants sizes? How could you let that happen to me, yoga?
I felt betrayed.
All those vinyasas were supposed to magically turn me into a sexy yoga chick, possibly even a vegan sexy yoga chick, but I was still the same old me. I kept trying to put almond milk in my coffee, hoping maybe that would eventually work, but it never could compare to straight up half and half from a cow. I felt guilty about that and terribly disappointed. In you.
In class, I never judged others, but I sure did judge myself. I should be better at this by now. Look at my sister over there in her effortless “wild thing” looking all skinny and beautiful while my fat ass is struggling, still, trying to wrap my right leg around my left calf without falling and oh my god, yoga, did you happen to see my belly flab when I did a shoulder stand? It nearly suffocated me.
You sucked, yoga, I thought. I didn’t want to be with you anymore. I quit.
And then I was free again. Screw yoga. I wasn’t going back. I was free to go eat strawberry cake and sit around doing nothing each afternoon and for about three days, this was magnificent.
I was like a rebellious teenager again, doing what I wanted and what I wanted was to not go to yoga anymore, so there. If I was going to be pudgy and weak, I may as well be pudgy and weak at home reading books in my big, cushy bed instead of sweating my ass off getting sore muscles for absolutely no reward. I discovered that used yoga pants make lovely pajamas.
It took a little while, but I started to miss you. No, it wasn’t you. I still didn’t want to lug myself through any asana flows and I was quite pleased with the fact that I no longer had to even think about doing a half chair pose. The first thing I missed were my friends.
Making friends as a grown-up can be tough sometimes, especially when, like me, you work from home (we poor writers can get isolated), but within a couple weeks at yoga, I’d made lots of friends, real friends, and wow, these were people who encouraged me and were happy to see me there in class.
They were mindful, compassionate people who cared about the same things I did. They made me feel welcome in a way I had never experienced before, and they did this even without me fitting the mold of the perfect, hot yoga chick.
They didn’t even care about my belly flab. These kinds of friends are hard to come by. Unless you’re in a yoga studio, and then you become part of a community.
Anxiety came back. It took a little while but all of a sudden it hit me and I noticed a lot of excess chatter cluttering my thoughts; unpleasant chatter that was judgmental and worried, negative. It interrupted my sleep. I woke up crabby and sluggish. Patanjali said that “yoga is the practice of quieting the mind.” Hmm, seems I had mistaken that quote. I guess I was so busy believing that yoga was the practice of shrinking the thighs, that I hadn’t even realized how yoga had soothed my restless brain.
Yoga, without you, I’m pretty much a big mess. I make poor choices, I store up bad energy and release it in ways that most people would accurately describe as “acting like an asshole.” I realize now that I’d much rather get rid of my karma in pigeon pose instead of picking a fight over the phone with someone I love just because I feel like venting frustration.
I want to get back together. I need you, yoga and I finally get it.
It wasn’t you. It was me.
I blamed you when the real problem was my own faulty expectations. Yes, I wish you made my butt the size of two hamburger buns and I wish six pack abs were a close possibility and maybe they still are in the long term, but I want to start accepting my body as it is.
I’d rather think about how good I feel in extended side angle instead of how bad I believe I look when I’m doing it. I’m still committed to hating half chair, so we’re going to have to agree to disagree on that one. All good couples have to compromise though, right?
All along, I was the one who didn’t want to compromise. I got angry. You said, girl, if you don’t like revolving that triangle then it’s perfectly fine if you just lie on the floor and breathe for a little while.
Yoga, you’ve taught me a lot of huge lessons. Your absence has taught me that my relationship with you is a reflection of my relationships with people. I blamed you when the real problem was my expectations and I’ve done that to people I cared about over and over; hurting those I loved because of it. I needed our breakup to figure that out and ultimately, I think finally getting this about myself might actually be a much bigger deal than fitting into a size four again.
That’s the miraculous thing about you, yoga. Your benefits extend way beyond the mat. You’re changing our lives even when we think we’ve given up on you, that we’re done with you for good this time, that we hate you. That’s a special kind of magic, yoga and I need more of that in my life.
The funny thing is, I asked if we could get back together, but I know I didn’t really have to ask. You are always there waiting for me when I’m ready and you will always welcome me back, unconditionally, on whatever terms I need.
Yoga, thank you for loving me more than I love you.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard