I’m currently in India, about to train to be a yoga teacher.
I don’t know where to begin in explaining. Because it’s not just this one thing that makes this feel like something I don’t so much want to do as have to do. I feel like I was always going to end up signing up for a 200-hour yoga teacher certification. That’s for so many reasons. I suppose it always is.
It’s January 2014, when I started my journey to get “strong and sexy”, losing forty pounds and learning how to respect my body. That was the beginning of a revelation. Self-love.
It’s exactly 13 months ago, where, to stretch out the tight body that training for my first 10k race made, I committed to a weekly yoga class to see if that might help loosen me up a little. It loosened me up a lot – and I’m not just talking about my legs.
It’s how that weekly yoga session became two, sometimes three, times a week – until even when I wasn’t running I’d go, because holy shit, man. It felt good.
It’s being terrified of the tanned, lithe, bendy yogis on a trip to Bali. Choosing the smaller studio in town because the big fancy one intimidated me. Starting in the baby class. Wondering what it might be like to go to the “grown-ups” class that started after my beginner’s. Getting up at 6.30 a.m. every damned day, because when I didn’t I felt like I’d cheated myself. Realising that I was, in fact, kinda in love.
A lot in love.
Really willing to put in the time with it.
This past four months I’ve done yoga almost every day. I’ve experimented with different styles, different flows, different teachers. But one thing has remained the same: yoga demands that I show up – mind, body, soul, spirit. That’s the key, for me. When I was running, I could “check out”. Think about something else – what was for dinner, how to respond to his text, what blog post I might write next – as long as my body did the work I could meditate on something else.
In yoga, not so.
Yoga isn’t about fancy poses. It’s about breath. It all comes back to breath. And if you are mindful of your breath, aware, then your whole self is there. In that way, yoga is like sex. The pose is the climax, and everything before that is foreplay. The best sex is when you are totally present, totally there in the moment and leaning in to exactly what feels good. Yoga is the same. You breathe, slowly, purposefully, deliberately, in every part of the sequence. It all counts. Moving your arms, curling your back, lowering to the mat, lifting up, opening your chest. It’s yes, like that, yes, just like that, consciously, deliciously, until you’ve built up enough heat in your body to reach, with your breath, into the final asana. The climax.
And, just like in sex, none of that works if you’re not loving with yourself. Whoever orgasmed from telling her naked self, “Wow, you’re some piece of shit, sister”? Yoga doesn’t work if my inner monologue is, what the fuck? You’re crap at this. You’re too fat/gross/stupid/whatever. Why are you even trying? You’ll never be good.
There is no “good” in yoga! It all counts! It’s all meaningful as long as you care! Because yoga isn’t even just about the physical – that’s just one part of it!!!!!
… Just like sex.
For ninety minutes at a time, my internal monologue is oh yes, baby. That feels good. Uh-huh. Do that a little more. Okay, no, not like that, maybe, that’s too much, but that gentle bit? Mmmmm yeah. God you’re great. This feels great. You can do more of that bit, uh-huh. Good job on doing this. This is love. You are love.
I am love.
Seldom do I commit to things. Writing is my longest relationship. So many things catch my attention, but it’s rare that I sustain my interest.
(I long ago gave up on berating myself for that.)
But yoga. She’s special. I wanna go steady with yoga. I want to go deeper, explore more, be intense for the sake of being intense. I don’t think I want to be a yoga teacher. Really, I’m doing this to really get to grips with my practice. To get up at 6 a.m. every day for a month to meditate, to breathe, to be even more loving with myself – and maybe see if I can find ways to teach other people how to be more loving to their selves, too, in whatever way that comes up.
I said I’m doing this for so very many reasons, but really, it’s just one: This feels important.
I’ve tried to put words to that, but mostly? I just have this feeling.
I’m doing it for the love of it.