Toes placed exactly where I need them to be.
I am in charge of my limbs.
I can arrange myself in this space to hold a shape, calm my nervous system, and hungrily draw in breath.
Yoga is the only way I’ve found to calm the internal hunger that’s ridden shotgun with me since I was small. A hunger for love, for approval, for connection—a connection to other beings, and to myself.
I’m not small anymore.
I’m also not too big.
“No such thing,” I whisper to myself desperately, “feet on the mat.”
You’re okay you’re okay you’re okay.
And it’s okay not to be okay. Yoga teaches me this.
Each time I gather my experience onto the confines of my mat, I am whoever I am—and that has to be enough. Because my body, my breath, my lungs, and my blood are all that I have. And we continue, together.
As a practitioner of yoga, I’ve often wondered what draws me back to the mat over and over, and as a yoga teacher, I’m often asked what I love about yoga.
It has taken heartbreak and deep loss to make me realize that the answer is—yoga loves me.
Yoga is there to hold my hand when I need it, to push me when I need it, to let me rest when I need it, and to lift me up, or ground me down. To whisper in my ear that even if the world feels like it’s ending, to stay right here in this moment. There will be another, and another, and another endlessly. And I can take comfort in this assured passage of time that I don’t need to hold onto it with bated breath.
In fact, the opposite—I fill my lungs with oxygen right now and that’s all I need to do—breathe in, breathe out, like the cycle of the moon, the passing of the tides, or the rhythm of a heartbeat.
If this moment feels unbearable, I can breathe and be here, and the more I do this, the more I realize I keep being okay.
Yoga gives me space to breathe.
Yoga loves me when I feel enormous—all heavy footsteps and huge lumbering limbs, and neediness.
It loves me when I feel broken and small and disposable.
It loves me when I wish I was anywhere else but on my mat facing myself.
It loves me when I’m shaking in a pose, feeling frustrated and weak. Yoga whispers in my ear that I must be stronger than I know, because I keep coming back and facing the pain and sorrow and mourning and loss that is all part of being human.
On strong days, I feel the wings unfurl from between my shoulder blades on the other side of my heart, and I feel light, and in awe of this body that does so much after all I’ve put it through.
And who is powerful enough to make my body work like this, to explore space like this, to journey into the landscape of heart and sweat and soul and breath?
When I pour myself into my practice, over and over again, I find my body to be good and strong and a home for me—rather than the whole of me.
It allows my spirit (or soul, or being, or whatever word resonates in the moment) to experience this painful, joyful, intense, beautiful and ugly, heartbreaking, and breathtaking life.
From the depths of the most staggering loss and brokenness, my heart beats on.
It’s like teetering on the edge of a cliff and realizing you’re going to fall. All it takes is the ferocity and spirit and life force of being a human to throw one hand back over the edge of the precipice and hang on dearly.
And then it’s the breath.
The breath that calms the panic, making space to react when I’m ready—to get my other hand hanging on too.
The breath that shows me I am strong and a part of something bigger than myself. And that I can climb back over the edge and feel my two feet on solid earth again.
Thank you yoga for opening my soul and cradling my cracked heart, over and over again.
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” ~ Leonard Cohen