Friday, July 29, 2011

Dear Yoga: A Love Letter

Dear Yoga,

We've spent a lot of time together over the last five years. From that college class I crashed when I first moved to Nacogdoches to my beloved Morning Glory Yoga Studios, you've helped me grow and change and even, on occasion, stand on my head. It was through you that I met some of my dearest friends in this town. It was through you that I developed my love for red wine. It was through you that I began to accept my body's limitations, even while pushing myself to break through new barriers.

You see, Yoga, the lessons I learn on the mat don't stop at the studio. The deeper I develop my practice, the more I'm able to apply you to every aspect of my life. Yoga, as you know, is a process. One does not enter the studio with all the ability, all the talent, that one will ever possess. This seems like an obvious statement, but it's not. You see I'm the kind of person who likes to be good at things the first time around. If I don't have an immediate talent for something, I give up and move on to something that holds more promise. This is why I never bothered to learn an instrument, why I chose to be a writer instead of a dancer. We all have our strengths, I told myself, and sticking with those things is safer, easier, logical.

Then along came you. I was not good at you at first. My legs were tight. I could not touch my toes. My balance was shaky, at best. My body was not lithe like my instructors or the women who stood at the front of the room. I have curves. I am soft. My muscles hide under layers of skin. But I had friends in class. I liked slowing down and focusing on the task at hand. I enjoyed the music and the meditation and the stretching helped my back loosen and bend in ways that it never had before. I kept coming back to you, yoga. Even though it wasn't love at first sight, even though our connection wasn't instantaneous, I kept on trying.

Eventually, I found my groove. I discovered that a yoga practice has layers. Today, I am good at balance poses. I love standing on my head. I have excellent stamina and can do sun salutations all day long. The other day, I got into side crow without a second thought and didn't even flinch when I lost my balance and my head clunked against the floor. Today, I put my mat down proudly at the front of the room. I may not look like a yogi, but that's exactly what I am.

Yoga, you gave me courage to try new things. Would I have had the confidence to join a roller derby league, to train for and run a marathon, to uproot my life and start an MFA program if it wasn't for all those warriors, those triangles, those pigeons, those twists? I can't say for sure, but my guess is probably not. There was a time when I could not touch my toes, but every week I came to class and reached for them anyway. Each week my fingers stretched the slightest bit farther. And then, one day, I made contact. I wrapped my fingers around my toes and held on for dear life, and in that moment I understood that anything is possible.

For all the lessons you have taught me and all the wisdom I have yet to learn: thank you, Yoga. Namaste.