When I told Christa I would write this piece, I had a slightly different idea in mind but it became something else the more I thought about it. Whatever it is, I hope you enjoy it.
I never thought I would be a yoga person. I lived in Vancouver for five years and it felt like everywhere I looked, I saw another lithe woman with impossibly shiny hair and aggressively tight yoga pants. That’s who does yoga, I thought. Slim, rich, and carefree. Not chubby, awkward, and anxious. It’s sad now to think how many things I cut myself off from because I perceived it as being “for other people”. It takes so long to unlearn what we are taught, either consciously or subconsciously, by society, by our families, by our early experiences, and when we’re done, how much life is left to live?
I’m turning 35 this year and even though it doesn’t always feel like it, I am where I expected to be. I live in a great city, in my own apartment, and I have a close group of friends that I adore. I don’t always get to see them, especially now, but they are never more than a text message away and I am grateful for that above all else. Every stop on my journey has led to this exact moment and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
One thing I’ve learned from yoga is intention setting. It’s about coming to the mat for your practice and setting your intention for the day. Sometimes it can be being present or being mindful or finding calm or finding forgiveness. Sometimes it’s an abstract thought that you don’t need to articulate that’s just between you and the mat and you picture yourself living your intention.
I struggled so much with meditation in my early yoga days. Just lie here and think about nothing? How? But as you practice it becomes easier and now I find myself stealing moments throughout my day, wherever I am, and checking in with myself, and my body, and my mind, and thinking about what I need vs what I want. It can be very soothing, even if the answer is “I want this bag of chips” and my body is like “eat this apple, you dummy”. We’re learning to compromise. Knowing your body and what it wants is a long and lonely road. I’m not talking about loving your body (although that is also a good idea) but just, knowing. Sitting with yourself and noticing what hurts, what feels good, where are you hard on yourself, where are you kind to yourself.
I was watching RuPaul’s Drag Race one day with a person who spoke Spanish as their first language and they exclaimed, upon seeing something Ru had named after himself, “He’s happy to know himself” which at the time I thought was a loose translation of “he’s full of himself” but the phrase has stuck with me over time. Am I happy to know myself? Some days I am. Some days I think I’m trash and deserve nothing good in my life. I know a lot of people who are happy to know me and I shouldn’t completely discount their taste levels. To me this idea goes one step beyond “knowing yourself” because that’s too easy. We all know ourselves. We know what we like, what we don’t like, what we want, what we’ve been through. But are you happy to know yourself?
I think you should be.