This time last year, my spouse and I were in a BAD place. In spite of the beginnings of vaccines making their way into our world, the kids were not yet vaccinated and therefore we were keeping them close. Which meant they were with us ALL.THE.TIME. No camps, school, or other activities. My spouse and I were on edge. Anxious, unhappy, irritable. Especially for my spouse, who now works from home, there was no escape. I saw our beautiful home become more like a prison for him. Zoom meetings are great but happy hours, water cooler conversations, actually being next to someone, you can’t replicate that.
Luckily for me, I had the studio. It kept me sane, working, talking, even hugging with caution and being together. Yes, precautions were made but having the community of my wonderful students really kept me going. There is so much about yoga and our studio that keeps me mentally healthy. And I’ve heard the same from so many other students.
I once asked my students, “what prizes do you want? What games should we play? What incentives do you need to come to class? What can I do?” To my total shock they said that they didn’t want prizes or other challenges (although they do seem to enjoy the ones we do, LOL). They said they come to yoga because it keeps them healthy mentally. That after class they feel calmer and more relaxed. I thought they might say it made them feel better in their bodies (and I’ve heard that comment too) but better in their minds? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. That’s what yoga does for me, especially since I became a parent.
My two youngest kids are only 18 months apart. Call it lack of planning, no plan, or the celestial plan it was the plan that unfolded. And I am utterly grateful. My two heathens are simultaneously best friend and greatest enemy; living life in an intermingled hurricane of togetherness. Can you imagine? They have never known life without the other. The beauty of this relationship is awe inspiring but the strain on my body was not as lovely.
By the time it was all over (in about two and a half years) I had been pregnant twice, birthed two babies and breastfed for over a year and a half. My body was completely depleted. I was an anemic, dehydrated, exhausted emotional hot mess.
I wanted to feel human again. I went back to my comfort zone and start doing yoga regularly. It was amazing and felt incredible but then the strangest thing happened..…
I would do a fun, invigorating yoga class. I felt great in that sweaty, warm, energized yet also exhausted way. I’d lay down on my mat for our final resting pose and I WOULD START BALLING! Like huge tears just streaming down my face. Sometimes, I had to hold it in so I wouldn’t sob out loud. All my emotions seemed to stream out in those moments, allowing me a release that I felt in no other part of my life.
You see, the mat serves as a sacred space, where we can allow our feelings to emerge without judgement. Clinical psychologist and registered yoga teacher Dr. Melody Moore (in this piece for Self Magazine) stated, “I used yoga to process my dad's death.....On my mat, I gave myself permission to cry and move through that grief.’" Certainly yoga isn’t therapy but on our mats we can begin to FEEL. And that’s a start.
People view yoga as exercise but it is much more. With each breath, with each moment of focus, with each feeling of grounding that we get on our mats, we begin to understand and relate to our turbulent bodies and our whirlwind emotions in new ways. We are able to be present in our bodies in a way that is hard to duplicate on a treadmill.
In a time when our mental health has been put to the ultimate test, our mats offer respite. A place to experience emotion, elated exhaustion, community along with stretch, self-care and stress relief. For some, this can be scary but for others, it can be a lifeline (and still scary!)
So many people are hurting right now and my heart aches for them. I want them to know that our studio is here, ready to welcome them in with open arms no matter their shape, size, gender, gender identity, race, or ability. Yoga has sustained me through these typhoon times, join us and see how it can help you find the calm after the storm.
Read my thoughts on yoga, teaching, parenting and everything in between.