A few things I need to get off my chest. Dear yoga, it's me, ashley, are you listening?
Without you I am so stiff and unfeeling and just SOLID in mind and body. As soon as I practice just a little bit I feel so much more open and able to go with the flow. Things seem funnier. Other things seem sadder. Everything is more infused with beauty. My concerns start to melt.
I would like to understand why you chose me. I was, after all, an unlikely candidate. But you spoke to me when I was a high school girl in Iowa, through a book that I can no longer find. I remember a picture of someone in Cobra pose. Am I just making that up now? I remember mimicking it on the wood floor of the "great room" in the house I grew up in and have never been back to. I remember teaching it to my Junior Varsity tennis team and everyone being amazed at that new feeling of openness in the chest and belly.
Then you and I drifted apart. I left for college in Santa Fe, New Mexico. My first yoga class wasn't very exciting. I was just there for a boy. And then that boy got more into meditating than yoga, and I followed, the puppy-in-love that I was. He left, and then I remembered you again. Or rather, a friend dragged me to see you at the Bikram Studio in Santa Fe. There, I remember the dirty brown carpet, the mirrors, the sweaty room. The baggy, crimson Harvard t-shirt I wore. The teacher exhorted us to "Push your hips forward to the wall! More! More!" in Camel Pose. And I pushed, thrilled at the daring feeling of the pose and the teacher's passion. We were back in love then, yoga.
But the world is a dangerous place for love, and we drifted apart yet again. I couldn't overcome the financial obstacles to get to you. And Zen, which was free, took your place for a while. I sat in stillness wearing all black and trying not to cough in dark rooms. I meditated as I polished wood, as I scooped peanut butter into my oats, as I kissed that boy, who came back to me, for a time, trading places with you. I studied and found meaning in everything but you. I didn't need you, I thought. I had The Odyssey, the Pythagorean theorem, Sophocles, and Chomsky and Annie Dillard when I needed to escape the Greats (which was more often than not). You, yoga, I resisted, ignored, saw through, as I sometimes do with those who I should really love and let in to my life. That is how our story begins, dear yoga.