I have a confession. I don’t love yoga. Not even close. Don’t get me wrong, I want to and have had hopeful moments, but they tend to be fleeting.
Last night during yoga instead of being present and focusing on my breath like a good yogi, I spent most of the class thinking of a catchy title for a blog post I’m working on. I never came up with a good title, so during Chair pose, I switched my focus to something else—something that turned out to be the start of a confessional blog post about how I struggle with yoga.
You see, I’m a runner. I always have been. My body was built for running uphills, not for turning myself into a pretzel, as many yoga positions tend to require. During a run, I’m able to let go and my mind becomes free, a creative juggernaut of sorts, and releases me from my insecurities and fears. I thrive on it—I crave it. I’m not complete if I’m not running. When running I’m catapulted to a state of empowerment and feel that I can do anything, be anyone.
However, yoga tends to have the opposite effect. My mind immediately goes to all that is wrong in the world—wrong in my world. I think about the job I don’t have or my messy kitchen or tasks that need to be completed. Is it the enclosure of the room—the ceiling and the four walls that restrains me? I’m not really sure, but whatever it is, it results in not being present and a wandering mind.
It’s only recently that I returned to yoga. For most of the summer, I was sidelined with a running injury and couldn’t run. I had to cancel races—it was not a particularly happy summer. I told myself that I needed to head back to yoga. So, I kept my promise and signed up for a month of yoga. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to force myself to go—I even bought a fancy yoga towel as an incentive. I held out on buying new yoga clothes. I’m still wearing the same outfits I wore over 10 years ago when I actually liked yoga—the same outfits I run in today.
I now go to yoga not because I enjoy it, but rather because I’ve convinced myself that it will make me a stronger runner—that I’ll get that PR (personal record) and get up that hill a little faster—that calf injuries and tight IT bands will be a thing of the past. Yoga has become a necessity, something I have to do.
I didn’t always dislike yoga. When I lived in Seattle in the early 2000’s, I loved it—I probably spent more time in a downward dog than I did running. Reflecting on those years, I realize it was the yoga studio that attracted me. My yoga studio was pure kismet—I don’t think I would have been happier or successful anywhere else. I learned proper form for many of the postures and how to be present. And most importantly, I learned how to let go and leave my problems outside of the yoga room. I will forever cherish my time at this studio and the friendships I made. Even to this day, I often wish that I had a time capsule to whisk me back to my favorite 6:30 power yoga class with Krista—or Heidi.
I know that yoga is good for me—I know that I need to do it, which is why I go back. I have experienced the benefits of yoga firsthand. When I was a regular yogi in Seattle, I was stronger and had fewer running injuries. I was probably in better spirits and let go of small irritations more often, too. While yoga may never replace the feeling I get from a good trail run, I know that I need to find my way back to yoga, I need to like it again.
It was only during the final posture last night—savasana—that my mind started to relax and I became somewhat present and thought maybe there’s hope for this wanna be yogi after all.