My yoga teachers often say: "There is no judgment in yoga." Which is fantastic because I look pretty hilarious in yoga. I huff and I puff. I fall over and experience involuntary fits of laughter.
You could say I'm an epic yoga fail. Except I'm not.
Maybe this is what they mean by "there's no judgment in yoga." Something keeps bringing me back for more.
For one thing, yoga is not a competitive sport. You're not there to look at other people or even yourself, really. The yoga studio I go to doesn't have mirrors on the wall. It's just me and my yoga mat. And without the mirrors, I feel safe.
Safe to fail, safe to fall out of a pose, safe to embarrass myself, safe to accept myself and safe to learn.
I originally got into yoga after having the twins because six weeks of strict bedrest had completely locked up my hips. I could no longer sit cross-legged on the floor and my general range of movement had narrowed significantly. It was almost like my entire body had atrophied.
I needed some gentle, stretching rehabilitation.
For me, yoga requires a good dose of humility. I am not a naturally flexible person and so practicing yoga is not something I'm "good at." But I think that's probably the point.
Yoga isn't about forcing or pushing myself. It's about accepting my body with all it's quirks and flaws and learning how to work with it.
It always surprises me how little I know about my own body. There's nothing quite like holding a downward dog pose to feel how tight my hamstrings are or to notice the weakness in my wobbly wrists. And sometimes when I sink into a twist and feel the tightness in my hips, I gain an appreciation for the life-creating experiences that led me here.
One of my yoga teachers said sometimes it takes our whole lives to get all locked up like that. The journey of unwinding and unlocking our bodies can also take a lifetime.
I try not to be discouraged by that. A WHOLE LIFETIME to unlock my hips? Arrrrrrrgh! I want results now!
But life–and yoga–are not that simple. For me, practicing yoga is more like a journey of discovery. A process. It takes time and patience.
Yoga teaches me how to accept both sides of myself: the strong, sarcastic side that has been vital to my survival and the sensitive, empathetic side that has been vital to building lasting relationships.
It takes wisdom for me to know how to live from a place of strength. It takes courage for me to live from a place of vulnerable empathy.
It takes humility to live peacefully. It takes intentionality to live presently and not in a blinding panic.
Most of all, yoga teaches me to be grateful for the journey and for the One who gave me life to travel it.