Practice doesn’t make Perfect, it makes Present
Everything takes practice. I think that is why they call it yoga ‘practice’. It isn’t something you learn and then you know, like tying your shoes. I used to think yoga was like learning dance choreography. I focussed so much on following the teacher, getting it ‘right’, and not looking stupid that I wouldn’t even think about my breathing or how my body felt. Now, I see the other people in the class and I admire their flexibility and how they know the names of the poses, but I don’t feel intimated like I used to. I will learn the names of the poses eventually, but my body may never be as flexible or do what their bodies do, and that is ok.
Now I practice yoga for me. It is all about my breathing and how my body feels. I set an intention for each practice so that I can work on what is going on in my life, no one else’s. And I realize now, that no one is watching and judging me, they are all doing what they need to do for themselves. I was the only one judging myself.
I notice that I have a lot of trapped energy in my hips, that is where the chakra to ‘experience emotions and experience pleasure’ is located. When I am in a certain pose and breath deep down into my hips, I can feel the energy being released. It is trapped there because there is still much hurt there that I stuffed down and haven’t expressed. Part of me felt like if I expressed it that I might have a break down and not be able to handle it, and another part of me was unaware of how much hurt I had inside still. This passed year, I tried to move forward in my life without releasing that. And so often as my body does, it came to it’s own stopping point which showed up to me as a feeling of confusion and dissatisfaction.
That happened last November when I was dating. Dating was a thrill at first, and a boost for my ego, but slowly my mind and heart became disengaged. I didn’t fully understand why I felt the way I did, but decided to take some time to explore. In December I deleted all the dating apps, and felt kind of out of sorts as I decided to make it a month all about self care. I felt awkward and unsure without the distraction of men texting and talking to me. I missed my dopamine hits of connecting with someone I found attractive, and imagining dating them and what that would look like. I missed the ego boost of a man 15 years younger than me wanting to take me out and spend time with me.
But I knew myself well enough to know that I had work to do. I felt like if I didn’t do the work, I would attract a person that would keep me trapped in my old unhealthy patterns. Plus, I really couldn’t focus on one person and get to know them. I wasn’t even trying to get to know them, and I really didn’t want them to know me. It was all surface, and it started to feel shallow and that I was wasting my time. So December was a month of weening off my dopamine hits, and letting go of behavior that would lead me into a toxic relationship.
In January, I started a meditation routine and included sit-ups and stretching, that I did every evening. When I first started doing it my mind would race to all the other things I wanted to do. I would sometimes think about the different men I had dated and wonder if I should text them when I was done. My mind was like a run away freight train that wanted to take me anywhere but inside my body and emotions. My mind’s job for so many years had been to numb me out, so it was still in that pattern. If I started to feel too sad, it would present me with a myriad of distractions to take that feeling away.
I appreciate that I had the ability to distract myself in the past, and lessen the pain and sadness I was feeling. I thank my defense mechanisms for taking care of me in a situation where it wasn’t safe to be vulnerable. But I don’t have to do that anymore. And it is time for me to learn new skills of calming my mind and feeling my emotions.
And so in February I started my yoga practice. The first couple of weeks I felt horrible. Every morning that I woke up at 5:15 AM to do my YouTube yoga routine I dreaded it. I dragged myself out of bed, made coffee, got my yoga mat out and sat on it while I let the coffee wake me up. With the remote right next to me to start the video I would cringe. But I made myself do it. I focussed on my breathing and how my body felt. I tried very hard not to let my mind take over, and if I had a rush of thoughts I tried to just observe them. I wasn’t great at doing any of this, but I did it anyway.
Doing this yoga practice in the morning led me to signing up to take a class I found on Instagram that was just 10 minutes from my house. After that class, I realized that the Health Club that I already belong to might offer classes, and when I looked it up, I found out there was a whole yoga program there which included yoga on the beach. So, along with doing my practice on my own every morning I added afternoon and weekend practices. Now instead of dreading it, I am excited about it. I am starting to feel the benefit of breathing into my hips and releasing energy. Sometimes during the day I feel my hips tingling and it feels good. It is a sensation that I haven’t felt before, or if I have I wasn’t aware of it. My body feels happier and lighter. It has been a slow progression to seeing the benefits, and sticking with it when I felt nothing.
Saturday morning I got up and went to an 8AM class. I had never been to this class or had this teacher, but when I showed up there was hardly a spot available on the outside turf. The teacher was a tall, lanky man with a loud but calming voice. He said that our session was going to be about trust. Trusting ourselves to let our practice go where it needed to, breathing into sore parts of our body and not being scared of what would come up for us. He put on a song about letting go, and so we began. As we stretched and breathed, I looked out into the Marina and the blue sky and felt so grateful to be among all these people who wanted to do something like this for themselves at 8AM on a Saturday morning when there were so many other things they could be doing. At the end of the practice the teacher had us lay on our backs as he read quotes about trust. I realized in that moment how broken my trust is. Not only my trust with other people, but within myself. When I first started dating my Ex husband, he used to give me amazing hugs that lasted for a long time. For some reason, a vision of him hugging me came to mind in that moment, and tears came to my eyes. Yes, I was crying on my yoga mat in class. I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks because I missed those hugs. I missed feeling like the search was over, that I found my home in him. Finally someone who understood and accepted me, it felt so good and I just wanted to be around him. It was so hard to lose that, my heart broke into a million pieces when I realized that he no longer loved me in the same way. I didn’t believe it for a long time, and I held onto to hope that it would come back. But it didn’t.
Yoga is helping me to release these feelings, to feel them, to be ok with letting go. The feelings are stored in my body because they were too overwhelming for me to express, and now they are slowly being released, and I am healing. The fact that love went away, doesn’t take away the fact that for many years it was there. It was a beautiful experience, and I am grateful for it. It is now time to move forward to different experiences with different people. It is time to let go of the hurt, the anger, the questions that will never be answered, my family as it was, and my vision for the future. Everything that I thought was going to be, is not going to be. It is going to be something different, not better or worse, but different. And I owe it to myself, and the people that I meet to be present.