September 9, 2014

Love Letter to Yoga. ~ Alison Tedford

Yoga black and white

I have fallen deeply in love with yoga.

It seems to me that the only reasonable way to express this is the same way I would a lover of any degree of significance, with a love letter.

Dear Yoga,

I’m going to level with you: initially I fell in love with your apparel and its fabled ability to make a woman’s posterior appear more attractive.

Who can resist a lovely bum?

If something could magically reconcile my tumultuous relationship with my J.Lo. booty, I was game to try it. The exquisite architecture of the garment lifts and flatters. Magnificent folds of luon create the perfect silhouette.

I acquired my first pair and began to wear them. It was exciting, but inside, I felt like an impostor. While the risk of exposure as the fraud I felt seemed low, a sense of guilt began to build. I soon decided my yoga pants should in fact attend yoga, at least once. This article of clothing was created with the intention of assisting a well-meaning yogi find his or her inner peace.

I needed to honour that, and allow these pants to fulfill their destiny. It was the right thing to do.

This fashion-related flirtation and associated (potentially neurotic and misplaced) guilt led to our first hot night at a local studio…it was a hot yoga class, after all.

The air was warm and seductive. I had a well loved, borrowed mat, a towel, a water bottle and no inkling of what would transpire. I had long preconceived you to be a weird hippy thing, akin to consuming yak butter or wearing a dowdy broomstick skirt.

I worried spending time with you would perhaps turn me into some form of circus freak contortionist, or that the overwhelming sense of inner peace would lead me to eschew customs of modern vanity like leg shaving in the summer. I observed the proceedings with virginal nervousness.

I was fascinated with the bendiness, the peace, the serenity, the sensation of being “unplugged” but still very connected. It seemed to be a solitary thing, quiet, however the classroom setting made it simultaneously, and without seeming contradictory, communal.

The limitations of my stretches provided me a healthy dose of humility.

I had no sense of competition among my fellow yogis, given I was too new  to  feel like a peer. My bare feet touched the floor, making me feel grounded. My first class led to a punch card purchase and soon the novelty faded into a tentative familiarity. Unexpectedly, the pose I struggled with the most gave insight to the non physical areas that needed attention.

I did not initially find inner peace in Savasana.

So rarely in my daily life did I take time to be still, fully invested in the glorification of “busy”. The addiction to hearing “I don’t know how you do it”, in being in perpetual motion towards something lofty.

I always needed to be doing something, to have a sense of achievement. Lying there in corpse pose was uncomfortable, the opposite of ego.

Silence was deafening; it seemed to disrobe me in a publicly violent and terrifying way. Being alone with my thoughts was something I dreaded. They echo eerily in the blank space. It really shouldn’t be that hard to just lay there.

It was very “Are you there God? Its me, Margaret.”

You shone a light at the things I needed to work on, a seemingly delicate and flickering candle flame that in the stillness felt like a flaming blowtorch. Unsettling and foreign at first, these challenges were met with smaller victories as I got to know you better.

Over time, I was surprised how the physical act of releasing muscles into poses allowed me to jettison the extraneous bits of my life that no longer served.

The mantras we were given were easily related to areas that felt unresolved and allowed the kaleidoscope of day to day felt more focused, shifting less alarmingly into familiar patterns. The act of setting an intention for my practice was meaningful. Dedicating my fawn-like awkward bumbling and fumbling to a specific purpose seemed prayerful and allowed the “selfish” act of taking time for me and my body to become almost altruistic.

At the centre of it all was gratitude.

Thank you, my dear yoga, for giving me a glimpse into different pieces of my inner workings, and for the loving way you “tear down [my] walls and smack [me] awake.”(words of Elizabeth Gilbert).




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Editor: Renée Picard

Image: Wikimedia Commons 


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