I can’t recall exactly when I decided to roll up my yoga mat and call it a day.
Maybe it was a few years ago when I couldn’t find a yoga class that I enjoyed within a reasonable driving distance from my house. Sure, there were plenty of studios. But each time I stepped onto my mat and attempted to keep up with the flow and pace of the new fangled fitness yoga, I stepped off an hour later thinking, “Wow. I’m getting too old for this. I just can’t keep up anymore.”
I tried to go it alone for awhile. After all, I was a yoga teacher. I should have had the discipline and knowhow to make it happen for myself. But doing downward dog with my computer screen flickering in the background and a sink full of dishes just a few steps away was a recipe for distraction.
So I quit trying.
Surprisingly, I didn’t miss it that much. I happily replaced my practice (if you could call it that) with walking, swimming, and reading about yoga in Yoga Journal when it landed in my mailbox each month. And when my body felt stiff and sore, I just reminded myself that this was why I didn’t do yoga anymore.
But last week, I found myself standing back on a borrowed yoga mat, in a warm, softly lit studio, in the town where I grew up. I had traveled back to help my parents for an extended period of time, and one night, out of the blue, I excused myself from the dinner table and announced that I was going out to take a yoga class. Just to get out. Well, I didn’t say that part. I acted like it was something I do all the time, not knowing if I would even make it past the Starbucks just around the corner.
I did make it to class that night. And from the moment I put my feet together in Mountain Pose and extended my arms over my head like the teacher instructed, I knew I had been away too long. All the reasons I loved yoga came flooding back as I stretched and moved in tune with my breath. As we took our time moving in and out of each pose–Chair Pose, to Warrior II, then on to Triangle and Warrior I–it dawned on me how much I missed having an activity in my life that encouraged me to move slowly and mindfully.
And I realized I was stiff–really stiff. Every muscle I moved seemed to snap like dry kindling as I coaxed it beyond its comfort zone. But in spite of my rigidity, I was able to find ways to move with some degree of ease through the poses. I took my time. I breathed. I encouraged myself to stay present and not judge. By the third class (yes, I excused myself from the dinner table two more times), I surprised myself by walking my feet up the wall into a modified handstand–something I was sure I was “too old” for.
Finding my yoga practice after a long layoff was a gift. But perhaps the bigger gift was quitting it a few years earlier. Contrast is a powerful teacher–you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone, kinda thing. Reflecting back, my journey home to yoga taught me some valuable wellness lessons:
I’m still searching for a yoga class to love nearby. But in the meantime, I’ve rolled out my mat on my office floor and plan to practice in spite of flickering computer screens and dishes piling up in the sink. I’m back on my mat–and it feels really good!
Feel good. Be Well. Meg
WELLNESS PROMPT: Have you given up on an activity or hobby that you used to love? Why? What did you love about it? How did you feel when you were doing it? What keeps you from going back–or what would it take for you to give it another try? 10-minute write . . . go!