A few months ago when I rolled my ankle and Fat Foot couldn’t run, I started yoga classes. Like a lot of love stories, our relationship took time to grow. We started out wary of each other—yoga was calm, quiet, reserved. I was loud, energetic, full of anger.
Slowly, we became friends and I looked forward to my weekly practices. And then one day, I missed a class. And rather than feeling indifference, I felt sad, empty. Somehow, without my knowledge, I had fallen hopelessly in love with yoga.
February is both Heart Month and gushy Valentine’s Day, and last week my teacher and good friend Kelly said that our practices will focus on opening our hearts and chests and loving ourselves. So, yoga, I’m taking this opportunity to tell you why I love you:
You’re making me bendy again. To someone who had danced for 17 years, you have been a wonderful return to that old, flexible life. But it’s not that simple. Each week is a humble reminder that I am not as young and elastic as I used to be, and certain poses take more effort. But you are teaching me about patience and to appreciate how much my body can do. I may not be able to forward fold as tightly as I used to, but I stretch a little deeper with every practice.
You’re not as easy as you seem. I admit, I misjudged you at first. I thought that you were easy, and I would have no trouble mastering all of your poses. Uh, wrong. It takes a lot of effort and skill and practice to contort myself. My muscles tremble, I fall, I laugh, I fail. And then I try again. There is no “mastering” you—our relationship will forever be a work in progress.
You still my 150-mph mind. It sometimes takes every ounce of strength to quiet my mind of outside nonsense and just focus on you and my breath. I’m like a rambunctious puppy learning to walk on a leash—my thoughts are going in a million directions. It’s hard to rein them in. Whether it’s undiagnosed ADD or a wild imagination, I am always thinking of at least three things at once. While singing a song. And sometimes dancing. But the second I step onto my mat, the world melts away and the only thing that matters is you.
And Kelly. I don’t have words worthy enough to describe Kelly. People toss around the word “love” too freely. But I genuinely love this woman. She is such an inspiring teacher, mentor, friend, human. Her positive attitude and sense of humor shine through in her practices. I can come into class feeling like shit, and bounce out of there reenergized and ready to tackle the world. She can make me laugh and cry and question and love myself.
Speaking of. I had a realization last week—I love my body most when it is active. I live for the moments when I’m covered in sweat and dirt and blood and am questioning whether I can take another step without collapsing. I love feeling the warmth spread through my muscles as I sink deeper into a difficult stretch. Despite my year of injuries, my body has yet to let me down. And I love it for that.
So yoga, let’s make this official. Will you be my Valentine?
If you want a great (and free!) yoga class with the best teacher ever, come to The Westin Birmingham on Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m.