I discovered yoga in my first year of college. The local gym I belonged to, offered a class and I gave it a try. I was hooked after the first 5 minutes. I couldn’t explain or put my finger on what it was that I loved about it at the time but I would crave the feeling I experienced. I would think about it without realizing it, and couldn’t wait to get back on the mat.
Throughout my life, I would dip my feet into yoga very sporadically. I would do a class or two and then not so much as look at a yoga mat for months on end. For as much as I adored being in class, I would inevitably end up in a self-destructive cycle of binging or an extended fast that lasted for days. I couldn’t understand it at the time and didn’t see the connection at all. Eventually, I decided it wasn’t worth the aftermath and worked very hard to avoid yoga altogether.
It took a lot of effort to stay off the mat. There was a voice inside of me constantly telling me to go back and I was committed to ignoring her. I had tried so many times and it always ended the same way, with me desperate to escape my body, to restore the separateness that yoga would begin to bridge, even after just a few classes.
It took me until I was 40 to find my way back. I had started therapy a few months earlier and was beginning to realize how much of me was frozen in the past and how so much of my energy was spent keeping so many parts of myself that way.
I spontaneously cried through the first class. I laid on that mat at the end of class for savasana and the teacher who had never met me before that day, came by periodically to wipe my tears.
After that, the voice in my head stopped speaking, it began to take my hand instead and lead me back to class again and again and again. As my breath began to expand, it found it’s way into long abandoned corners of my body, it swirled around at the base and uplifted emotions long buried, it unearthed frozen patches of internal tundra, warming them with the fire of my breath. Yoga began to unfreeze me, untangle me from the coping methods I’d taken on as a kid and mistook for my personality. Yoga gently lifts the veil between who I thought I was and invites me to see who I really am.
Now I can see why yoga used to scare me half to death. Up until that point, I had only known how to live outside of my body and with the breath, yoga inevitably invites an irresistible reunion. I have come to cherish and revere the part of me whose voice I heard all those years even after doing all I could to make her go away. She knew what I needed to find myself again, and that yoga was the path that would lead me there.