In January of 2014, I started my year-long scholarship with Yogis Heart. I was gifted an entire year of unlimited yoga at any studio I chose. It is now September, 9 months later, a good time, I felt, to do a bit of reflection.
I remember when I started the scholarship; I was so excited! I thought , “Great! Everything from here on out is going to be better! My skin will clear up; I will lose weight; I will be less stressed; I’ll have lots of friends because I’ll be so much happier in general and I’ll have so much more time to give back to others because of the reduced stress! Everything will be perfect now that I don’t have to worry about paying for yoga!” Fist pump! Woo hoo!
Ummmm not quite.
There are so many journalistic and Op-Ed pieces printed in the media about how yoga can change one’s life. It can aid breast cancer survivors on their paths towards recovery. It’s great for digestion. It is a fantastic tool for stress management. It is often an essential factor in addiction centers. Even the great and powerful Dr Oz has touted yoga as a fantastic way to “stretch your way to better health.”
I am certainly not disagreeing with any of those things. I love yoga, for its spiritual and physical benefits combined. It is probably one of my favorite things about the life I currently live, and I am to be able to practice it on a regular basis.
Still, it hasn’t “fixed” me in the ways that I necessarily expected. As I mentioned above, I thought that once I no longer had to worry about paying for yoga, all of my troubles would simply melt away in the hot rooms. I (naïvely) thought that once you take away one hindrance, you take away them all. All or nothing mentality much? So lo and behold I was shocked (SHOCKED) to find that just because I practice asana a lot, my life wasn’t perfect.
Dealing with an addictive personality has been a long-term struggle of mine. The interesting thing is that I feel that what I am most addicted to is myself. Yoga didn’t “cure” that, and I have the funny feeling that it will never cure that. Yoga did not take me away from thinking about myself and all of the “me” issues that I conjure up on a daily basis. In fact yoga did/ and continues to do the opposite. It has made me turn in and think about what is really going on; why there is so much self -hatred? Why do I think I’m not good enough? Why do I say I am lonely, but shy away from opportunities to improve relationships? Yoga makes me think about these things.
And you know what? It sucks! It is not comfortable. And this discomfort shows up in many ways, through my physical body as well as in my actions. I thought yoga was supposed to give me the perfect body and then everything else in my life would follow suit, and that is so not what happened. Yoga gave me a life; or rather it showed me that I have the ability to live one. Not to live perfection, but to live a life that is perfectly imperfect. Doing that is not simple and it is certainly not easy, but it’s real. Real is what I aspire to be and how I strive to live : Raw, Educated, Adventurous Life.