How Yoga Found Me

I came to yoga at a time when my self-doubt and fear had scarred me not just mentally, but also physically.

My self-initiated stress caused a sore to form in my stomach, which could lead to an ulcer. I was unable to eat anything but the blandest foods. The doctors told me to “just stop stressing,” but the hole in my stomach was only adding to my stress. I needed to do something proactive for myself. I had tried talking about my problems, but that only made me focus more on my past when what I really needed to do was find a way to be present.

I studied yoga in college and had a basic understanding of how it helped my physical body stretch out and relax. I did it at the Rec center a few times and had my first few experiences with meditation. But I never did it regularly.

On a particularly gray day for me in August, I got the urge buy a yoga pass at a studio in Kent.  My online search told me there were a few options, but only one that really called out to me: One Love Yoga in Kent. It was still under construction, and they were not sure when it would be finished.

I followed the progress on Facebook, and grew a bit restless. I didn’t know how long I could wait. But finally, they posted a status that the doors were open, and I purchased my first unlimited monthly pass a few days later.

One Love is a heated studio, and it took some time to adjust to the hot air pumping through my lungs. But the heat took my practice to another level. Along with the sweat, my worries poured right off of my shoulders. The heat brought a kind of relaxation I had never felt with non-heated yoga. The challenge of matching my breath with movement and staying balanced gave me no other choice but to keep my mind “in the moment.”

Those first few months were challenging but so exciting as I mustered up the courage and strength to move from only basics classes to slow flow, then vinyasa flow, then power vinyasa.

The teachers have helped me on my journey in many different ways, whether it’s through humor, coaching or reassurance.

I used to laugh when teachers told me to go into poses like crow and tripod headstand during those first few months. Now, after doing yoga at One Love for six months, I have the self-trust and love to try those challenging poses, even if I fail.

Capitol Handstand

 

 

 

The Impractical Joke

My parents have always hated practical jokes. That’s why I never suspected them to play one on me, and also why I thought my house was being robbed at 11 p.m. last Thursday.

I was home with Nick, listening to music in my room and watching Louis hop around. I knew my parents were at an America concert, and didn’t expect them back until midnight or later. So when I heard footsteps upstairs, I was surprised but not alarmed that they were home early.

America, the band. Nice hair.

America, the band. Nice hair.

Nick and I had just gotten out of the hot tub. He had thrown his wet clothes in the dryer and was only wearing a robe. I went upstairs to say hi to my parents and grab some of Nick’s dry clothes.

I got to the top of the basement stairs and peered around the corner into the kitchen. No lights were on and every drawer and cabinet door was open. I heard people running upstairs and my mind rewound to 2nd grade when my house was robbed by teenagers.

I screamed at the top of my lungs, “NICK! NICK! WE’RE BEING BROKEN INTO!” while simultaneously falling all the way down the stairs. I ran over to him as he stormed out of the bathroom, robe flying on either side of him, screaming, “YOU BETTER GET OUT OF HERE.”

It was then we heard my dad’s voice: “WHAT? IT’S US!!”

I collapsed onto the ground and could not stop sobbing for about 30 minutes. It was the most frightened I have ever been. My poor parents had not seen this coming. They stood at the top of the steps saying, “We thought it was a funny joke.”

Then I felt the aftermath of falling down about eight steps on the side of my left ankle. The pulsing pain began as the shock wore off. By the end of the night, I could hardly walk. The next day, I went to urgent care to get x-rayed and see if anything was broken, and share the absurd story was the amused nurse practitioner. I was lucky, it was just a sprain.

Perhaps the most ironic part of this hilarious and scary story was that I was leaving for a weekend trip to Washington, D.C. the next day. I had managed to get over a cold earlier in the week that threatened to soil my trip, and was so excited to have a phlegm-free head by Thursday. And then I sprained my ankle.

I spent Friday icing and elevating, and tried to push the “It will be like this forever” thought out of my head. We left for D.C. that night, and by morning, my ankle felt much better.

I walked from monument to monument and museum to museum with only a slight pimp walk to first day, and almost no limp the next two days. I was even able to do a handstand at the Capitol Building.

Capitol Handstand

We met some very interesting people on the trip:

  • The hotel shuttle driver who has loved driving since he was small and still does, except when he finishes a 9-hour shift driving the Holiday Inn bus and then his 19-year-old daughter asks him to take her somewhere. He acknowledged the weirdness of him having a 19-year-old daughter when he looks about 25 himself. He forgot to go to the liquor store Saturday night so he was preparing to search far and wide for somewhere that sold booze on a Sunday
  • The subway rider with the pierced chin who stopped to make sure we had enough money for the exit fare
  • The Georgetown Bro who assessed our outfits and told us to go to The Big Hunt, then got in trouble with his girlfriend for talking to us
  • The homeless man who peed himself on the ground in front of the ATM and was too drunk to get up
  • The 50 blonde D.C. 20-somethings drinking bottomless mimosas at Urbana, whose combined cacophony of alcohol-amplified voices made our ears ring even after we left the restaurant
  • The Saturday cabbie who told us to pay anything we wanted because his credit card machine was broken, and whose favorite presidents are Clinton and Obama. He came to D.C. from Ethiopa for opportunity, but is going back because after 13 years, he is tired

The Fizzling Friendship Flame

Some friendships are so effortless and deep-rooted in commonalities that you can go months without seeing or talking to the person, then start right where you left off when you see them again.

Others are a constant – you talk almost every day and know almost everything about the person.

But what happens when the distance does take a toll? When you lose those things you once had in common, whether it was a lust for club-hopping or a passion for Wes Anderson movies? 

These differences can cause the slow fade of a friendship that once was strong as steel. Or a major discrepancy like boyfriend-stealing or drug-using can extinguish that flame of friendship in one spray. 

The heartache of losing friendships can be just as painful as losing lovers. Sometimes, the slow loss – the widening gap between text messages, the waning desire to hang out – is a more drawn-out, difficult death of friendship than a sudden irreconcilable difference. 

Sometimes it’s really hard to accept that you two just aren’t helping each other grow any more. You’ve taken different paths in life that won’t intercept again. You can try and try to get back to the place you used to be, that time of jokes and mayhem and constant good times, but you might never be able to find it.

Though the loss takes a toll, these people we encounter and form friendships with will always have a piece of us, and us a piece of them. The lessons learned – how to be loyal, how to listen, how to let go when it’s time – those lessons will always stick with us. 

And the nostalgia for the old friendships will always remain, too. I still feel a twinge of sadness when I see an old photo of a friend I no longer talk to, or hear that song we used to sing at the top of our lungs to.

It’s not easy, but it’s best to remember the relationship for the greatness it once had, rather than the distant melancholy now. Those lessons learned and great times spent should be the parts we remember. 

 

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