Anniversaries are days that we remember which mark an important milestone on the journey. Some are more etched in our minds than others. As I practiced today, I remembered Oct 4th 2004 was the day I signed my divorce papers. It was a painful year letting go of the idea I had in my head about how my life was supposed to go. The end and the signing were uneventful.
Earlier that same morning I went to Starseed to practice Mysore Style Ashtanga Yoga. My teacher at the time was sometimes gruff with me in a very playful way. I was a serious student although I had a lot of obligations raising twin boys and their younger brother which may have made my attendance somewhat irregular. I had a full time job in my family business, a huge house on the hill, I traveled for work, managed the household which involved childcare professionals along with holiday and vacation planning. In addition, the boys were involved in many activities. I loved yoga and my practice which pretty much took the place of what I had done previously at the gym. It seemed like this was going to be a good fit. My family sort of tolerated it. Some said all I cared about was going to yoga. It seemed my obsession with working out truthfully turned to obsession for yoga and getting adjusted in postures. I had to miss yoga when I traveled for work but I remember being as regular as I could be back then.
That day during practice, I forgot a bunch of poses. I don’t think I even understood that I was supposed to remember them. My teacher came over and told me “Go to backbends”. I was not happy about this, however as I was a good student I did what I was told knowing full well that a whole slew of poses would not get done that day. The interesting part of this is what was happening in my mind. My mind went to what I was going to do that day and I judged the teacher as having no idea of what I was going through and that I was getting divorced today. That justified anger slipped in as well as a story in my head. Later, in the foyer after practice, everyone happy to have practiced, he suggested I purchase two of the books he had which were the Yoga Mala by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and Astanga Yoga by Lino Miele. I was all in. I cannot remember if I read them right away but there was little to discourage me. I was strong and so was my teacher. He taught me by putting me in postures and being stern in such a way as to be encouraging. The rest is a long history.
The transformational aspect of the yoga practice cannot be denied. Today when I ended my practice I could feel emotions swelling up behind my moist eyes. I have compassion for that younger woman who tried so hard to keep it all together in a neat box. I am forever grateful to those lessons in the studio, in relationships with others, with my kids (now adults) and how we all are getting through. We did not just get through, we each dug deep wells and we grew from that. I always believed that the yoga practice does not lie to us. How I look at this is that we have to meet ourselves physically on the mat to get to the heart of the matter to get to what is happening in our minds. I surely put the importance of individual postures before the understanding of a series and how I felt at the end. Today, I look at ways the practice feeds me so that I can be my best self and be the best in my relationships. I’m a grandmother now, experiencing joy at every corner, feeling whatever I feel without being sorry about it, accepting what is even as I modify my practice. I know things will get harder, changes will keep coming and I will have experiences that will continue to shape me. It never ends.I know I cannot be afraid to feel and what else but to love deeply.
There are no shortcuts. Every experience on the yoga journey and the life journey are part of us and that is what molds us. The postures build off each other but you can’t let them hold you back either. There is much to learn moving thought the sequence and getting to the end. How was the ride? Maybe some bumps but then you arrive. Practice, like life, has some bumps in the road. How are we going to handle them and how are we going to let them shape us. We are what we practice: Find JOY, Practice JOY on and off the mat. I think perhaps we are supposed to have FUN. No one could have told me to do it differently. The experience has to come from within. It has to come from the heart.