In early 2015, I tried out yoga for the very first time. Despite a brain fart that almost made me pass out, I got hooked quickly.
My original intent was to use the practice for stress relief, and it worked brilliantly. There is a studio around the corner from where I work and a class that starts 30 minutes after quittin’ time. There was truly no reason to not participate.
Until there was: I kept frickin’ hurting myself.
Now, lest you think I’m one of those crazies who’s an upside-down and backwards face-spinning in a unitard kind of yogi. I’m not. My biggest goal was a relatively passive pose–side plank–so it’s not like I hurt myself trying something crazy; I hurt myself doing something that you do A LOT of in yoga: arching your back.
I have a crazy bum back that I have legit pulled eating a blueberry muffin (seriously), and some of the stretches that felt fine at the time resulted in an inability to get out of bed the next morning. I could NOT turn my head, couldn’t sit up. When this happens, I have to slither out of bed, sliding my legs off the side of the (very tall) mattress in an effort to stand while my husband attempts to wrap his arms around my torso while I scream like this.
And it takes forever to fully heal. Months. So after doing that twice in four months in yoga … I stopped going for a bit. I figured I needed to fully heal, which I thought might take more than I was allowing, and also: I was scared.
Fast forward to this year. My work has this delightful health and wellness initiative that brought an instructor from my former yoga studio to campus occasionally, and I stopped in to one of the classes.
It. Was. Delightful.
Then I read Glennon Doyle Melton’s “Love Warrior,” and her experience with yoga was such a freeing, positive one. And I remembered how much stress release the practice brought me, and I wondered if picking it back up might not help some fear and worry I’ve been harboring about a current project. AND the studio sent me a free class in April for my birthday. So yeah, I listened.
I popped in yesterday after work, further enticed by the instructor teaching the class, who is particularly gentle, who is particularly focused on proper alignment and breathing.
After I set up my mat, as I stretched before class, my eyes traveled over the new words on the chalkboard wall. Right in front of me, toward the top, were the words
If you can’t beat fear, just do it scared.
I swear, I felt my worry about my personal project float away.
As class started, I wondered if I would have to relearn all that I’d forgotten over the last two years, but my body remembered more than my mind did. When the instructor had us all go side plank, I could still do it properly, without dropping my top foot to balance. Huh.
The hour passed by in a moment, and I got home feeling giddy.
“Is this that lie people talk about? Getting all happy after they exercise?” I asked my husband when I got home.
“It’s a runner’s high,” he said.
“Stop lying. No one gets happy after running. But this is great.”
I’m going to try my hardest to refrain from too much that bends me backwards more than a few degrees. I’m going to try my hardest to take it easy, to remember that, for me, yoga is about the stress relief. It’s about my mind emptying, about not having to think for myself for an hour and listening to the instructor, about spending my efforts breathing in sync with my movements.