Yoga. Oh how that word would bring me instant frustration for years. I have been blessed/cursed in life by becoming used to being able to do just about anything I put my mind to if I worked hard enough at it. Not to say I haven’t known disappointments but in much of my teen years and even into my early twenties, the things I decided I wanted to do I was able to eventually stubborn my way into accomplishing. This gave me unrealistic expectations that if I was stubborn enough I could make things work. Guess where that approach fails miserably? Yoga class.

I really liked the idea of yoga and everyone I knew who practiced yoga talked often about how amazing yoga made them feel. I decided to give it a try and signed up for a class at my gym. I was going to do the yoga class and then the kickboxing class that was right after. By the time kickboxing came around I really needed it to work out my frustration. The yoga class left me more frustrated than I was when it started. I have since consulted with my yogini friends and the class I took was nothing like a traditional intro yoga class, it was too easy physically but with long emphasis on breathing with the instructor telling us to clear our mind completely and only focus on breathing or we would not be doing it correctly. Well as it turns out the harder you try to stubbornly clear your mind of everything the harder it is to actually quiet your thoughts. This class was so frustrating for me I was completely turned off from yoga for the next year. Over the next couple of years I learned the class may have been the problem and I was encouraged to try again.

Try I did, again and again. Every class felt like a giant failure to me as the instructor guided us to completely clear our minds. I could not do it and the harder I tried the more frustrated I became with the whole process. I tried yoga at home, yoga in classes and yoga from position cards and experienced the same frustration. This year I decided on two, related, resolutions. One was to learn how to simply “be” not to be constantly worrying about what came next (is anyone else hearing Jed Bartlet saying “What’s next?” in their heads?) and to enjoy my present. Additionally, I had DECIDED (yep still stubborn) that this was the year I was going to learn to enjoy yoga.

The beginning of the year played out as it often has before. I tried lots of types of yoga and I was getting frustrated again. I found a video that I enjoyed the movement of but the instructor’s sugary imagery of imagining yourself as a sun shining in your own sky reaching out your rays to the flowers was more than I could stomach. It was so phony and ridiculous it just irritated me. Then I felt this shift within myself lately. I have been attributing it to being on the cusp of motherhood with the adoptions looming. I am not sure if that is all of it or not. I just know a shift has occurred. I no longer feel the need to worry over things beyond my control (a problem I have had for years), I still want to help the world but no longer am I willing to do so at the expense of my health (mental or physical) or my family, and I am truly ok with who I am as a person. It used to bother me that I was so emotional and open hearted (I saw it as me being weak) and I fought against my own desires to make things easy for everyone else. Another major shift was the recent discovery of finding my purpose in life.  I have recently found more balance in my life than ever before, embraced my inner vegetarian in a world and family of carnivores and I feel completely at peace and happy with who I am as a person and in the world at large. These shifts I think are what have led me to the place I have been trying to reach.

I decided to give this yoga thing one more try and I signed up for a foundational yoga class at our local YMCA. I was anxious the whole drive over to the class and had to steel myself to go in, afraid that this would be another failed attempt to enjoy yoga and that I would leave frustrated once again. Boy was I wrong. I LOVED the class and woke up the next day dying to do it again. I think it was a combination of things that changed my experience this time. I think I found the right class, the right difficulty level for a beginner who is already fairly flexible and an instructor to emphasized just allowing it be ok to be wherever you were mentally and physically. Lastly of course I think the biggest change was one within me. I think I finally allowed myself to be who I am, to embrace it and to follow my inner voice in a way that left me open enough to finally enjoy the experience of yoga. I think yoga and I will have a long and fruitful relationship now.