I call it “Yoga Strong.” Being Yoga Strong is about more than what happens on the mat, but is rather inspired by it. As I’ve gained physical strength, at times utilizing gravity and at others defying it, as I’ve learned when to be passive and when to be active, I have carried these traits into all areas of my life. I know when to flip myself upside down to spark a different perspective.
Yoga Strong shows up in the muscles, but begins at the heart.
I remember vividly the first class I took. The dark wood floors, incense filling the air. I felt instantly at home, in a place I had never visited. I found yoga at the perfect moment (or rather, it found me). I had felt weakened by a toxic relationship, filled with distrust and dishonesty, that I hadn’t yet realized I needed to leave. I was in a fog. I couldn’t see.
After my first Vinyasa class, the only thing I knew with certainty was that I needed to get back on my mat. And so I did, every single day. I walked into the studio, calmly and confidently, though I was aching on the inside. Gradually, a miracle began to occur.
As I cultivated strength on my mat, it was reflected in all areas of my life.
These first yoga classes taught me an infinitely valuable lesson I have never forgotten: any discomfort I felt on my mat, in challenging asanas (yoga poses), in lengthy Yin postures, was temporary. As were the challenges in my life. I realized that if I could simply breathe through the pain, feel it rather than hide from it, be inquisitive rather than judgmental, perhaps I could survive the bumps in my own life, just as I could survive a 90-minute yoga class.
As I built up my muscles, the fog lifted and I regained my vision. Without hesitation, I ended my toxic relationship and moved into a studio apartment. During this time, I often thought, “this will get worse before it gets better.” I braced myself for heart-wrenching pain and agony, but it didn’t come. I moved through my transition with ease and grace and it was at this point that my world blasted open.
Prior to all of this, I had felt like a little boat in a big ocean, getting rocked from one place to the next. Suddenly, I was a big ship. The waves were bigger, but I could handle them. It didn’t rock me as hard.
I moved through the waves as I would a Vinyasa sequence: one challenge at a time.
Over the years, my practice has evolved – it has waxed and waned, intensified and relaxed. It is forever changing, but one thing has remained absolutely constant: a steady practice has been imperative for me to live a clear and balanced life.
Yoga has cracked me open in ways I never could have foreseen and at all moments, but particularly in the challenging ones, I am able to tap into limitless freedom whilst within the four corners of my mat.
I have cried, I have laughed, I have let out anger during practices – at times I have pushed myself and at others, I have practiced self-care.
And so, I call it Yoga Strong. It begins on the inside, at the inner core, until it bleeds into the fascia, into the muscles, through the skin and into every area of life. Yoga attracts wounded beings, and turns out Warriors.