Starting yoga has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It has taught me the importance of listening to my body instead of striving to simply keep up with other people, and I take to heart every lesson I learn in class. Just today, my yoga teacher said to move however feels good, and that’s exactly why I’m in the fetal position right now.
And no, I’m not getting up, because I belong here on the floor.
I know I’ll probably never be able to touch my toes like this more flexible woman next to me, or stand for prolonged periods of time like the woman next to her, but that’s okay because I can curl up in a ball and sing quietly to myself, and there’s no pressure to push myself harder if this is where I’m at. I’m not “taking things easy,” I’m exploring whatever shape feels right for my body, and it so happens I’m naturally drawn to the shape of a roly poly – an insect you’ve probably encountered more than once in your own backyard, or on a picnic.
And in a space where I can take whatever form I want, I choose to take the shape of a tiny baby living in the soft dirt.
That’s the beauty of yoga. Unlike other forms of exercise, yoga’s not about hurting other people, and definitely not about hurting yourself. I’m encouraged to move in a way that feels natural, and I’m thankful for this approach because without it, I’d never have found the flow that works best for me: Lowering my body gently onto the mat and then getting into the defensive position of someone about to be hit by a baseball bat.
It just feels natural to cower!
This is the only me I’m capable of being right now and I refuse to let anyone judge me for it. Because I’m finally in tune with what works for me, and it’s absolutely refusing to move my body even though there’s a full hour left of class, I paid $5 to get in and everyone else seems to be in some kind of deep lunge at the moment.
Back when I first started yoga, I would’ve pressured myself into entering the same position as everyone else. But I’ve learned too much about my body’s true needs, and even more about myself since then; namely that what I really love is when I’m lying on my side, covering my face with my hands, and quietly crying into my knees.
And that’s fine. I’m not making an effort to pretend any differently because I’m no longer working toward a goal society has given me, but from a goal within myself: To remain curled upon the floor forever and never, ever get up.