Two inches

I was on my mat, attempting to keep the tension away from my face.  I’ve barely moved my arms and I was already in pain.  I had reached my edge for the day.  I was not injured.  I wasn’t sick or had any ailments.  I wasn’t hungover and I had enough sleep and water.  No, it wasn’t anything physical.

I told myself a few months back that I’m way past dissecting my practice with words.  I hadn’t felt the need to carefully document each breakthrough and breakdown.  In many ways, it’s a byproduct of becoming more introverted since teacher training.

Although this post starts out about my practice, it really is about something bigger.  I promise I’ll get to that.

Back to half moon.  I moved a mere 2 inches.  I’m not one to measure against myself or others – this isn’t about the comparison.  I noted that I only moved 2 inches because the thought of going further seemed too impossible at that moment.

I am not one who shies away from pain.  After years of being a Bikram yogi and 9 weeks in training, pain has had a new meaning to me.  So when I looked in the mirror, simply too frozen to go further, it wasn’t because I was afraid it would hurt.

I was immobile because I hated being there at that very moment.   It wasn’t the teacher or the dialogue.  I just hated the class.  I hated every single thing in that room – the temperature, the humidity, the cigarette smell of my neighbour.  It took every ounce of energy not to walk out.

I’ve been struggling the past little while but that was the very first time I had felt such utter dislike for being on my mat that it stunned me.

I initially blamed my edginess on PMS.  As we hit the floor series, I thought about it some more and my feelings hadn’t changed.  It wasn’t a hormonal imbalance.  I suddenly recognized the feeling.

It was a similar feeling when I was struggling at a job position I was ready to quit.  When I would visit my hometown and reluctantly catch up with old schoolmates.  When I am about to break up with someone.

It was a feeling that I get when I have finally outgrown something.

And even though I had moved on away from writing about my practice, this was something I had to write down – to organize my thoughts, my plan of action.  I know deep down the things I need to do to get my practice back, to stop fighting with myself to get on the mat, to address the anger that comes with that room.

So until I pick up the lessons I need to learn, I’ll just breathe for now because I know that this too shall pass.  It must.

And this, I know that this is where the real yoga begins.

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Unburdened

For two years, I wrote about food and history and what memory each dish brought back to me.  Then suddenly, I just stopped.  No words, no pictures, no recipes.

I had also written about yoga, my practice, my journey to teacher training, and everything in between.  And similarly, it all stopped.  I didn’t really know why, but I knew what I put out wasn’t from the heart.  I wasn’t giving my best.  Not to those who read my blog, not to myself.  So I bid adieu, packed up my ideas, and put away the key.

Months went by where I would encounter something interesting or think of an exciting recipe, but I didn’t dare go back.  Not even once.  I realized soon after that I’ve outgrown that part of myself.

And so a new chapter began, though unwelcomed at the time. I had become less creative, impassioned if you must, in other areas of my life.  My yoga practice teetered between the highs and lows, eventually coming to a standstill that was neither inspiring nor challenging.

As a student, I was always looking forward to what breakthroughs I would reach.  As a teacher, I felt stuck on my mat.  Each time I finished practicing in class, I felt incomplete.  Insatiated.  I didn’t know what to do.

So I began to retreat inwards and began stripping away all the things I thought could be in the way.  I practiced less.  I distanced myself from the yoga.  I didn’t push hard or practiced advanced classes.  I was starting from scratch.

It was back to the basics.  Keeping it simple.  When in doubt, go back to the beginning.

And it was quiet.

Peaceful.

Slowly but surely, the growing pains began to ease.  I carefully stepped back into the mat without the burdens I carried with me.  And I thought I owed it to myself to do the same with my writing.  So this blog, this new, fresh and empty space, is my attempt to get back to the basics.  To write and write only, as raw and as honest as I could.  No dressings, no costumes, no poetry.  No elaborate trips to memory lane or diggings of the past.

I don’t really know what I would use this space for.  But I suppose I don’t have to figure that out just quite yet.  I suppose I can take it one day, one post at a time.

And to those who welcomed my writing back warmly, thank you.  It’s always nice to know I have a home here.

On being brave

It was a particularly shitty day.  I had retreated into my home, away from the crushing defeat of the world outside my doors.  The first thing I had thought of was a nice glass of wine.  Or a bottle.

That was a familiar feeling.  No, I’m not an alcoholic.  Far from it.  But I am familiar with ways to which I am capable of making myself unable to feel.  To look away until it no longer ached anymore.  And alcohol, well, it was one of the easiest ways to get there at that moment.

But that day was different.  Instead of numbing, I forced myself to be able to feel.

And the first and only thing I knew how…was to get on my mat.

So I went.  For the first time that I could think of, I consciously did not run nor hide nor try to forget.  I didn’t pretend everything was just fine.  If I wanted to grow, I needed to be brave.  I needed to face every single throb and sting without retreat.

I sweated and ached and worked.  And I breathed.  Because I knew that the only way is through.

I laid on my mat halfway through class, unable to move from exhaustion.  I had pushed too hard.  Or maybe, my body could only take so much pain that day.  Regardless the reason, I reluctantly accepted it.  Instead of running or walking away, I forced myself to face whatever it was that came my way in the safest place I could think of.  I needed to know how to get myself past the fire – not by running through but by walking on the coals with bare feet.  Why?  Because there will come a time when I’m older where things will be worse than that day, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to get through it with the tools I’ve picked up along the way.

I didn’t leave the studio enlightened or even any happier.  But I was able to breathe just a little bit deeper and that was enough for me.

Bikram says ‘You have nothing to lose because you had nothing to begin with.’

Mr. Choudhury, I absolutely will not beg to differ.  I had nothing else that day but everything to gain.

A love affair

When I first met you, I had no idea what you were about. I tried to find out as much as I could, but nothing would ever prepare me for you.

They told me you would make me feel amazing. That I will be on cloud nine after each and every time. That you’ll make me fly.

That you’ll be like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

They also warned me that you can be difficult. And demanding. I was warned that you might even make me cry in due time.

Ever the curious cat, I went to see for myself.

I stood there, vulnerable and unknowing. Within moments my palms began to sweat. My heartbeat slowly climbed up, a mixture of nerves and my lungs catching up to the moment. My fingers were covered with inexplicable tingling sensation. Later I found out that it was just dehydration.

As I walked home afterwards and I wondered where you had been all my life. I was light as air, and yes, they were right. You made me soar. They forgot to aptly give me the name for this feeling. I was stoned. Yoga stoned, that is.

Now, years later, we found ourselves at a crossroads. Or rather, it was me who stood at that fork in the road. I’ve become disillusioned. Despaired. Disappointed. I didn’t feel like seeing you for awhile.

At first, I didn’t understand why. But then I realized others have come between us. Of course, I blamed them. And I blamed you. But I never thought to look inside.

Finally, it came to me that it was I who had slowly let others in between us. The frustrations made me feel as if what we’ve had all these years suddenly ceased to matter. The little things had grown so monumental I forgot what was on the other side. But in reality, I had become lazy, pure and simple.

Yesterday, despite my hesitations and reservations, I went back to you. As I stood there, just like the first time, you reminded me that you have been waiting for me, patient and unassuming. You welcomed me back with no questions, only answers I didn’t even know I was looking for.

And so once again, I was back. Sweating, breathing, tingling. And this time, it was because my electrolytes were off. And I was slightly hungover.

They were right. You are nothing I’ve ever experienced before. You’ve been the best relationship I ever had.

Thank you, Bikram Yoga. I think you’ve finally cured me of my fear of commitment. And small bladder issues. You and I are going places, kid.

The prodigal daughter returns

Because it seems I wasn’t quite finished yet.

Because there’s always more to be said.

And written.

Because I learned words are just as important as air and water.

So I’m following my heart and set out to pen some more, wherever words may take me.

They lead me back here.

It feels like home.