I am resistant to anything that makes me slow down and take a look around me, at least physically. I always notice beautiful things while I’m on the go, but as you might imagine, it’s fleeting. This is why yoga is so hard for me, and why in need it. I first thought about practicing yoga more than a decade ago, when I was chest-deep in running around as a public relations liaison in the entertainment industry, but it wasn’t until August, 2016 that I forced myself into getting on the mat. To do that, I had to enroll in a college class geared toward teaching yoga, because I just couldn’t get myself convinced to go to community classes once or twice a week on my volition. I know me, we’ve met, and I would forget, or be too busy, or have laundry, or an article to write…you see where this is going.
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Another Time and Place, Maybe
For years I had been feeling disconnected from the world, my friends, life. I had the biggest emotional and physical upheaval in 2012, when I chose to walk away from my best friend and life partner of more than a decade, because I realized that he was emotionally thrashing me against the rocks. Our on-again-off-again friendship, and intimate relationship towards the end, had taken its toll. I wasn’t good enough, and never would be able to live up to the woman he wanted me to be: the Ellen to his Clark, Caroline to his Jack, the Diane to his Lloyd. In giving up that relationship, I also gave up everything I had known, almost every friend we had, and a life I had become used to. Suddenly, nobody was there where everyone had been. There were no hands to grab when I needed to help or be helped; nobody to call because I couldn’t breathe through the tears. I grasped at anything that looked like it might care, even for a minute. That was not only the wrong thing to do, it wasn’t even my rock bottom. It’s also a story for another time.
Yoga Has Answers
Anyway, I enrolled in this yoga class, and even then I was resistant to having to be in gym clothes with a room of other people who probably didn’t want to be there as much as I didn’t. It really was a last-ditch effort at saving my own life. I was foundering, lost, wayward, and always running. I was out of control. I was also hopeful. I mean, the worst that could happen was that I would be a little more flexible and get into the habit of keeping a journal. The best? I’d find my footing and begin to live again. Little did I know, that would take another year.
My instructor, Amber, was so great at her job. She practices bot the spiritual and physical side of yoga, has this air of understanding and acceptance, and I want that. For two hours each week, first thing in the morning, I lugged my beloved yoga mat to class, flopped down with my classmates, whipped out my journal, and went through sun salutations, up and down dogs, warriors I, II, and II, and other poses my body really isn’t meant to be in but managed. I learned to sit in silence for longer than 15 seconds. I learned how to breathe into the poses, and hang out on the razor’s edge of pain to push my body further. Most importantly, I learned to see inside myself. That was literally the most difficult part. Well, that and sharing my vulnerabilities in my journal every week with a person I barely knew.
Continuing the Quest
After the semester ended, I continued my practice regularly at first, and the sporadically as time went on. I bought the book we had used in class, another book called Wanderlust, a yoga bag and block, and woke up every single morning to spend a minimum of 15 minutes on the mat. My practice was this:
- Wake up
- Shake it off
- Unroll the mat
- Queue the music
- Grab a bottle of water
- Start the music
- Write for at least 5 minutes in a stream of consciousness
- Move through my poses (the required 15 minutes was usually turned into an hour)
- Write for 15 minutes
- Shower and get on with my day
- Repeat at night, as necessary
It was great, I felt great. I overloaded myself on self-help books, consulted therapists and coaches, bought crystals, chanted mantras, stared at candle flames, attended life purpose retreats…and then I started finding other things to fill my morning with that weren’t nearly as healthy or helpful. It didn’t take long for my body to crave the yoga, and usually I ignored it until I couldn’t. I needed to get into those poses to make myself stand straighter and not have any pain. I needed to write every single day, just to clear my cloudy brain. I invested in journals, pens, sticky notes, and tried three times to create a bullet journal, only to throw them all away because I stopped using them within days of making them. I am telling you, I invested and spent my way to spiritual enlightenment. Only, I ended up being broke and unenlightened. I was disconnected again, and felt so cloudy and lost. Nothing was working.
White Hot Truth
Then I got an email from Danielle LaPorte's team, asking if I wanted to be a part of her upcoming book release for White Hot Truth. I figured, why not? I had been following Danielle for years, since the release of The Fire Starter Sessions. We’d shared tweets in the early days. I felt connected to a peer wo could teach me how to be connected to the universe again. I bought The Desire Map and workbook, and went to a few retreats. I wanted to be a facilitator, but never could find the budget to buy in, even though I knew I’d be good at leading people to their life’s purpose. I am all-in as a Danielle LaPorte fan, and to get the chance to read her book before anyone was like a dream come true. It was also the best decision I had made in half a year.
Danielle is known for coming at us with her #Truthbombs, pushing us to be better, doling out spectacular insights and life advice, and now for telling us all to toss it all away if its not working. In her latest book, she talks about all the things that didn’t work for her, how they might work for us, and to find our own spiritual paths because – ultimately – it’s our relationship to deal with, and if we’re not understanding it, not communicating with it, not deeply ingrained and connected to it, it’s not the right relationship and it needs to change.
It Only Takes One Step
So, I changed it. I had been on the fence about moving, but the truth of the matter is that Colorado is priced beyond my means. It makes me deeply sad that I can no longer afford to live in my native state. It also opened an opportunity for personal growth. I have wanted to live somewhere more temperate – where my face doesn’t freeze into position when I walk out the door in the winter – for all of my teen and adult years. And so, here I am, in Florida, ready for this new life I am creating for myself. I have already started writing every day, and just today began implementing my yoga practice back into my life, though it looks something like this now:
- Wake Up
- Shake it off
- Drink some water
- Write a bit, because dreams are fresh
- 15 minutes in repose
- 15 minutes in yoga poses
- Work, work, work
And in the evening, after the work is complete and the world is once again quiet:
- 15-20 minutes of writing what’s next for tomorrow
- 10 minutes of journaling in stream of consciousness
- 30-50 minutes of yoga poses
- 10 minutes in repose
- Final thoughts and gratitude in my journal
- Off to bed
So far, I feel great, and life is falling back into place. I plan to have at least one yoga and/or repose session on the beach each week. I am looking forward to building a life here, finally in my own space after sharing with roommates for the past decade (at least), and stepping into the life I’ve always wanted but wasn’t quite sure how to make happen. Be on the lookout for more stories of connection, both human and universal. And if you’re ever in South Florida, let me know. Maybe we can meet on the beach for a cuppa joe.