When you lose your Yoga, but it ends up coming back
Whenever I’m at an MLPC event or workshop, or just a communal sit-in pre and post class, I always hear the same tone of voice coming from people who haven’t been attending classes as often as they’d like. You all know the one - voices drop an octave or two and saying “I know” or “yeah” in response to “we haven’t seen you in a long time!” is laced with guilt and… is that dread? I only know it so well because I’m one of those people. I still am, in fact. Only believe it or not, my octaves are steadying now rather than wavering against the pointed finger of shame scolding me for not making it to yoga class that day.
Because the truth is, life happens, and we’re human. We even get sick of yoga. I’m sure Yasir gets sick of yoga (but he’s also proven to be a rare exception to the rule - Yasir, you’ll have to answer this sometime!) and we also outgrow things sometimes. Yoga is one of those things that is possible to put aside. The beauty of it? It’s always waiting for you when you need it more. Yoga is always right where you left it, patiently waiting for you to return. How do I know this? I speak from years of experience.
I’ve been doing yoga for around fifteen years now. It started off when I was a teenager because I wanted to be like Phoebe from Friends. Or maybe I wanted to be like Dharma Finkelstein from Dharma and Greg, Lynne from Girlfriends or insert any other spiritually-heightened, over-privileged hippie chick circa late 90’s/early 2000’s living comfortably in gentrification while making low-wages and surviving on bohemia and beauty alone. Either way, my introduction to yoga was not one with honest intention, but it was me trying to force myself into a box during the process of discovering myself. My friends thought I was weird, my sisters were doing yoga, I was pretty flexible from years of dance training - I guess that’s what I was supposed to do, right?
Wrong. Three classes and a mild eating disorder later, I dropped yoga like a hot potato, save a couple of YMCA classes here and there over the span of 5 years.
And then, I found Bikram. Ah, Bikram - with your body shaming, anxiety shaming and cultish atmosphere. How I loved you, merely because of the fact that as a chubby teen, a well-meaning but tactless Westmount mom told me “the pounds will melt right off!” as I was getting ready to go into my very first Bikram class and official yoga studio class. At 23, my pants size was creeping back up to the double digits (UK) again, and so I punished myself along with everybody else for months at the Bikram studio - riding the highs of sweat and devotion, fantasizing about becoming as trim, toned and universally beautiful as the bikini-clad instructor standing gracefully at the front of the mirrored room cooing “mama give me money”.
And then, you guessed it. I got tired, and other than the odd Moksha class during visits to Toronto, where my host was working at the front desk and I’d tag along to keep them company, yoga and I once again went our separate ways for another five years.
When 2017 rolled around and I was invited to try a studio’s 30 day challenge, I returned to yoga with the curious eyes of a child and acted as though I had no history with the postures. I continued to grow stronger and more committed to my yoga practice, because I started again from scratch. This was the longest and healthiest relationship I’d ever had and I’m finding that today, while I’m still doing yoga consistently 5 years later, it was because I let myself go back to basics and I changed my entire attitude that went along with my commitment to the practice. I take my breaks. Sometimes, I’ll do yoga for months straight then take a break from my mat for just as long. Sometimes I’ll do it a couple of days a week, daily, or just once every other week or so.
The point is, finding yoga once again came from a different intention this time around, which is why it stuck. I don’t do yoga to be interesting, or to be thin, to feel beautiful or quirky. I do yoga now because when I realize the big little things I never noticed before: my digestion is off; I’m not sleeping as well as I used to; I’m craving community; my joints feel dry and my body craves movement; I’m feeling anxious - that is what takes me back to the mat, and that’s when I know that yoga will serve me.
With all that being said, I’ll leave you with this - take your breaks, but come back. When you approach yoga with pure intentions, it will always be yours. It’s like the age-old adage: when you love something and let it go, if it comes back, it was always yours to begin with.
Happy practicing and you’ll be hearing from me again, soon!