Editor’s note: elephant journal articles represent the personal opinion, view or experience of the authors. As an independent media outlet, we cannot verify the validity of any claims made on this website.
Yoga is hard.
It sometimes hurts.
I recently had surgery, where I had to take some time away from my mat. I was actually scared to go back to my first class. I already knew what being guided through the poses would tell me—that I was sore. That yoga was hard.
That my heels no longer easily go down in downward dog.
That the thought of doing splits is laughable. That touching my toes and doing sun salutations would likely result in a sore back (due to a month of strict core limitations).
I felt compassion for every single person who has ever felt intimidated by a yoga pose, out of place in a studio, or uncomfortable in every pose but a restorative one.
And all of this put me into a limbo.
My yoga practice has always been my safe place of magical comfort and belonging. How could stepping onto my mat not bring me that comfort? It feels a little like like I’ve lost my practice. It’s confusing. And it hurts.
So I write this article. To make sense of my thoughts, to remind myself what I already know, and to help others out there that need to hear this too.
1) It’s all happening for a reason.
We hear it a lot. I tend to say it often. And it still comforts me every damn time. I like to believe that we aren’t just mercilessly flopping around in life. We are taken in particular directions to learn the lessons and processes we need to know. By remembering that there is a greater purpose in it all, I find hope for the future and grace in the present.
2) Pain is weakness leaving the body.
It’s okay if it hurts; it’s shift. I have to remind myself of this every time I do downward dog and it’s not instantly grounding and relieving. My attitude is transformed from “Why?”, to “I’m actually pretty happy with myself, this is me growing.”
3) I go from upset to excited.
A clinging to the past is let go and there is excitement in the freedom of the future, the unknown and where it will take me; everything becomes an adventure and I’m reminded of what it truly feels like to have a beginner’s mind.
4) It’s good to take it easy.
This is a follow up to my last point. If my body is calling for restorative poses and meditation, then it must know what I need. Only the mind says differently, says “push more, try harder, do better.” What’s better?
Better is listening to the body and allowing for surrender and unison. There’s such a beauty that lies in letting go of resistance, of struggle, of trying to ‘know better.’ The body knows when it needs rest and TLC and when it needs action and flow. The more we allow ourselves the space and time to move into that wisdom, the better.
5) Yoga is always here for us.
It’s a practice, not a perfect; it doesn’t care if we take a day, a month, a year, or a lifetime off! A yoga lifestyle and practice is always ours to come back to. And it will feel different every time we do.
Our practice doesn’t care if our heels go down or what poses we do. Our practice is here to bring us peace in our beings, to teach us that which we truly value in life and where we need to let go to create new space.
Yoga is a lifestyle, it’s a means of always doing what is best for you.
“As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.” -Emmanuel Teney
My parting words to myself and everyone:
Have faith. Do what works for you.
Find a yoga practice that excites you (day by day, breath by breath).
Have fun along the way.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Jessica Cartwright
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Lisa Picard at Flickr