Yoga. I never bothered to try it, because I assumed that a large, inflexible, uncoordinated woman with poor balance would not be able to do yoga.
About a month ago, I finally gave it a shot. All my girlfriends were doing it, and I just wanted to be cool. Peer pressure caused me to experiment with yoga.
I was correct. I can’t do it. And I love it so much, I wish I had tried it years ago.
I didn’t realize that yoga is magic. When you require your body to attempt what it really cannot do for a good solid hour, until you’re sweaty and exhausted, your brain apparently winds up in some kind of crazy super-freedom state that allows you to think beautiful new thoughts.
(Aside: I suppose this must be what certain drugs do for you, too….except if you do a whole bunch of drugs you wind up looking like shit, but if you do a whole bunch of yoga, you wind up looking awesome.)
I can tell you that I must look ridiculous in my yoga practice, which is okay because I can’t see myself. I’m sure I never look like a warrior or a tree or a crow, but at the end of class, I’ll be damned if I don’t think like a yogi.
This is good news, because my thoughts are kind of shaky these days. I’m still off-kilter from my recent breakup, and I spend a lot of time either sad, angry, or in a state of rigid avoidance. But for some reason, when I’m physically exhausted and instructed to clear my mind and focus on my breath, amazing thoughts radiate through my consciousness.
I know I sound dramatic, but here’s what happened in my brain at the end of a recent yoga class.
We’re sitting cross-legged (sukhasana! I’m learning!) and the instructor quietly suggests, “Extend your spine, take a deep breath and thank your body for all the hard work you put in today.”
Thanks, body. You did great!
“On your next exhale, round down over your feet and extend your fingers towards the front of your mat. It’s important to recognize how hard your body works and to appreciate all that it’s capable of. Hold that pose for five breaths.”
Hey, feet. Thanks for the hard work.
My feet are okay. They’re not weird-looking or anything and they never give me any trouble. I love my feet.
You know, I actually love my whole body. Hear that? I love you, Body. I have an abundance of love!
….I have an abundance of love.
….I’m not afraid of being alone because I have an abundance of love.
I really thought those things, all in a row, like popcorn popping in my brain. I was probably a little oxygen-deprived in that moment, because sitting cross-legged and bending forward like that causes the bulk of my belly to be crushed up into my lung-space, but whatever. It was worth it for that brilliant realization: I HAVE AN ABUNDANCE OF LOVE.
The class progressed into the meditative portion, where you’re supposed to lie flat, clear your mind, and concentrate on your breath. So of course, that’s when my brain goes nuts.
This “abundance of love” notion rolled right into a burst of clarity regarding my recently-ended relationship. While our relationship was good in many ways, it was always marred by possessiveness and jealousy. I’ve never had that particular problem before, and I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand why those problems kept surfacing, when I didn’t feel like I was doing anything to trigger them. I didn’t understand why we were constantly fighting over nothing.
And right there in yoga class, it came to me. Abundance versus Scarcity.
I have learned about abundance before, but I have always heard it applied to material things. An abundance mentality says that there is plenty for everyone. We can afford to be generous because there is enough to go around.
Scarcity is the opposite of abundance. People who live in scarcity feel that there is never enough, and so they are constantly fighting for their share.
I never applied the notion of Scarcity and Abundance to human relationships before, but BAM!—yoga clarity!—I suddenly saw how it works.
I come from a big, loving family. I was raised with the certainty that I am loved. I have a great circle of friends. I have kids who love me. I recognize that I am extraordinarily fortunate to feel an abundance of love.
I’ve never been one to feel jealous or suspicious; I’m very trusting. I’ve also never cheated on anyone; I don’t see the point—just love who you’re going to love. I have this crazy theory that almost all hurt feelings between friends are the result of misunderstandings, because I truly believe that people who love me would not intentionally hurt me. That’s what my life experience has taught me.
Not everyone has had that life experience. I suppose if you were raised in an environment that was abusive or unstable, or if you suffered through abandonment or infidelity, you might feel emotional scarcity. You might feel like you need to fight for affection, guard it and keep it to yourself. Once you have someone’s affection, you might feel like you could lose it at any moment, and easily become suspicious or jealous.
Suddenly all those fights, all that jealousy and possessiveness made sense. Why I felt so smothered, and why I felt like I could never do, or be, enough. We’re talking about opposite worldviews here. No wonder we couldn’t get along.
That just took me 900 words to explain, but during yoga, it flashed into my brain on one big exhale, like I breathed all the clarity in and all the confusion out.
Peace in… fear out.
Abundance in…scarcity out.
I’m telling you– you gotta try yoga.