I started practicing yoga the way most people do: reluctantly, and with a Groupon. Deep down, I knew it didn’t interest me, but I was lured in by the physical and emotional stability it offered. After my free class ended, high on complimentary herbal tea and the fantasy of shopping at Lululemon, I impulse-bought a one-year membership. The next morning when I woke up, I realized I was stuck. It’s taken a lot of practice, deep breathing, and mindful meditation, but practicing yoga has finally given me the strength to quit yoga.
Here’s my story of how I stopped being a coward who “Nama-stayed” and gained the strength to “Nama-leave.”
My first yoga class was hard. So were my second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth classes. My hands slipped on the mat, I couldn’t focus on my breath, and everyone around me was making sex noises and encouraging me to do the same. I worried that it would never grow on me, but I felt so trapped by the membership that I was prepared to resign myself to this slow torture. I thought, “Well, this is my life now, and there’s no use in trying to change it.” I was so beaten down by yoga, I couldn’t muster the courage to leave it behind. I felt so lost.
Once I was totally defeated by the New Age-y nonsense, I learned about the notion of surrender. So I surrendered to the notion of dragging myself to that foot-scented room on a daily basis. I soon began hearing the instructor’s voice in a new way, sort of like an unborn child hearing its mother; a mother who says stuff like, “Let your hips melt up to the sky.” Part of yoga is learning how to be patient with your surroundings, even if those surroundings are full of self-important hippies with trust funds. As the class was in “happy baby” pose, I listened to the echoing of farts escaping from the upturned b-holes of young and old women in the class and thought, “Surely the instructor is going to say something. There’s nothing normal about a room full of farting adults.” Instead, she smiled softly and murmured, “Our bodies are full of humor, aren’t they?”
That was a major turning point for me.
I anchored myself in that moment to become completely attuned to the present. I used my anger, frustration, anxiety, sense of smell—my yoga—to get up from my mat and leave the room forever. I don’t think that’s something I would have ever had the strength to do if I hadn’t gone to yoga in the first place.
The strength and support yoga offers is something that never leaves you. Going forward, I’ll remember the practices yoga taught me to keep myself from ever doing yoga again. And for that, I give my thanks.