On Self Care and Surprises

A funny thing happened recently. My friend asked me to go with her to try out a hot yoga class, and I went because I wanted to be supportive and I’m supposed to be saying yes to everything and yadda yadda yadda. It turns out, I really like it. Really, really.

I tried yoga in college. I went to a class. I bought a book. I never liked it. I found it difficult and boring and never thought I was doing any of the poses correctly. I felt like I looked stupid in that way all women under 35 feel.

But this place. This place is amazing. First of all, it’s HOT yoga. I’m warm, I’m relaxed, I’m limber. Secondly, you can come at any skill level. Even a total noob who is convinced she will hate it and will fail. Even she can join. And I’ve come to learn that you don’t even need to do the poses correctly! Just the best you can! And you can try variations when you’re ready. When you’re ready! Hardly anyone lets you do something when you’re ready anymore.

Self care has been a lifelong problem for me. I’ve had some really codependent, dysfunctional relationships in my life. So taking care of myself wasn’t really a thing I knew you were supposed to be doing. And then when I became a mom, forget it. Not only do you not have the time, but you feel guilty for trying to take the time.

Turns out decades void of self care are a recipe for mental health disaster. Which is pretty much how I ended up in this place. A recovering alcoholic with crippling anxiety and depression, OCD and low self esteem. Self esteem so low it’s like you’d have to dig to the other side of the world like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, and you still wouldn’t find it.

But now there’s yoga. It is the single, solitary thing I do by myself, for myself, and that’s actually good for me. The instructors begin class talking in soothing voices about clearing our minds and bringing ourselves to the mat. Forgetting our worries, leaving it all at the door. Don’t worry about how good or bad we do that session, just do our best. This is the kind of thing I need other people to tell me, I can’t seem to come up with it on my own. So I feel so good about being there. For probably the first 20 sessions, I cried each time. It just felt like the right place to be. And I was opening up emotionally. And I felt free.

Because it’s hot yoga, there’s sweat. A lot of sweat. All the sweat. Which sounds gross, but it’s really not. The sweating feels very spiritual to me. Like in a way I am shedding bad, toxic things. Getting rid of old baggage. Leaving it behind. And it’s also proof that I’m working hard. Sometimes the poses don’t feel all that difficult but then at the end you’re drenched and you’re like, YES! I did something!

It’s been the most positive change I have made for myself in such a long time. Maybe yoga won’t be your thing. But I want you to know that your thing is out there. It’s out there waiting for you! You just have to figure out what it will be. Try new things, you’ll be amazed at what clicks.

When I was a little girl, my dad called me Boo Boo. But now I am Yogi.

Namaste.

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