For the last 9 months or so I have told many people, “I hate yoga.” Weird coming from a yoga teacher and yoga therapist, huh? It is weird to say it, and yet it has been true.
I have not practiced much asana (the physical practice) in recent months, and I have forced myself to go to one class/month because I thought I “should” go to yoga. I remember one class in particular where I spent most of the practice irritated. I remember even asking my mat, “How can you help with my rage?” Well, lo and behhold, the mat answered. It said, “Bring it. I can handle it.” So I practiced being irritated and angry, and it was helpful. But I still was not compelled to practice.
I hit a turning point last month when I went on a 10-day silent meditation course. On this course you are not allowed to do yoga. I am mostly a rule follower (mostly), but when I am sitting in meditation 10+ hours a day I knew I was going to break this rule. We woke up at 4am and I did a practice before our 4:30am sit. I did a second practice after lunch during our rest period, and I fell in love with yoga again. I fell in love with being in my body, with allowing my body to express itself in shapes and movements, with feeling strong and flexible.
I could have tried to ignore my anger and rage and pretend that everything was fine. But being honest with the fact that I didn’t like practicing felt like practicing yoga, the yoga of truthfulness (satya). Honoring my anger and allowing myself to take a break from the physical practice, for the most part, felt like practicing the yoga of non-harming (ahimsa). Now I sit with the fact that everything is impermanent, that things ebb and flow. These days I do a daily practice, and it feels connecting, grounding, empowering, strong and sweet. It is my time for self-care and quiet, and I am grateful. I do not know how long this will last. In over 14 years of practice my physical practice has ebbed and flowed, and I usually have some judgement about what my practice should or shouldn’t look like. My relationship with yoga has changed significantly this year, and as I look back on where I am now to where I was, my relationship to yoga feels deeper, more integrated, more real than it has ever felt. We went through a dark period, and we are coming out of it.