kripalu ruined my life.

i’m just worried.

why?

i’m worried that you’re going to change.

i will, i said, smirking.

when you get there, you’ll find me meditating, dressed head to toe in white with a big turban on my head! i might even be…vegan.

i laughed, he still looked concerned.

baby, i probably will change. but i need to change. and when i do, it will be for the better. i need this.

 

what an idiot i was. not for believing that i would change…because i certainly did. naïve, rather, for insisting so boldly that i knew so much and was so sure about myself and about life. 

i went into my yoga teacher training expecting to do a lot of yoga, to meet some like-minded people and to eat a lot of weird vegetables…and to learn some anatomy, sanskrit and how to lead safe and effective yoga classes. and i did. i did all of these things.

but what still has me befuddled is that i left kripalu having realized that the person i had always so pig-headedly claimed to know better than anyone or anything else in the world…had, in fact, been pushed so far out of my realm of consciousness that i hardly recognized her when she started coming around again during training. i was-and have been-completely disconnected…from…well…me.

my boyfriend at the time was right to worry. because with this realization came a ton of question marks, immense confusion, and a whole lot of heartache.

i felt like an alien in my own body…trapped in circumstances that did not feel right. i couldn’t quite figure out how to incorporate my new discoveries and perspectives into previous ways of life and relationships. i wanted so badly to be myself, but i feared rejection of the ones i loved intensely. a lethal combination.

ever put on a few pounds, and try to slip into your favorite pants? they are tight and uncomfortable and barely zip up, but instead of admitting defeat and reaching for the more appropriate, looser fitting pair, committing to either shopping for bigger pants or settling on the frumpy ones until you get back into shape…you pour yourself into the old ones, force the zipper up and go about your business. you can barely breath…let alone move, and you’ve got an awful case of muffin top…an option that somehow seems better than coming to terms with the fact that the pants you once felt so confident, sexy, and awesome in no longer fit…?

that’s kind of what it felt like. i wore my too tight pants when i got back, and I was in no rush to trade them in…even if i felt smothered and uncomfortable…and a new pair of pants might have been even more confidence boosting, sexier, and awesomer than the pair in which my butt was suffocating.

yoga opened my eyes to  possibilities-and uncertainties-that i had not known before. exciting, beautiful, even magical at times, it also flipped my perception of myself, my relationships, and my world upside-down, turned it inside out, shook it all up, and then tossed it back at me in a big old jumbled mess, laughing and saying “okay, your turn. now what?” reality can be…terrifying.

one of my yogini friends posted the following on her facebook wall. it’s straight out of kripalu yoga: a guide to practice on and off the mat by richard faulds, and i think that it comes pretty close to the sentiment i’m trying to convey:


my hairdresser knew i was a yoga teacher and asked me where he could learn more about yoga. i asked him, “jeff, are you happy with your life right now?” he said he was. so i told him, “then don’t get into yoga. your whole life will change.” as much as I was kidding him, that’s also the truth.-kathleen grace koch


i did get into yoga. 

I dug deep into yoga.

and while it took me quite some time to admit…and whether i like it or not…my whole life has changed because of it.

for the past year, I’ve felt kind of stuck. stuck in the muck that is transition…stuck in my own head…walking around in a sort of fog, trying to process not so much new information received from external sources, as the truths i discovered within the depths of my own soul…trying to figure out how to be myself…my true self…in the midst of chaos and change.

eventually i donated the retired pants to goodwill and got myself a new pair. 

existing on the surface of life, in tight pants nonetheless, has never appealed to me. if i am ever going to be fulfilled i need depth, i need truth. i need to drill into the very core of life. i need to taste, touch, hear, feel and smell its essence. i at least need to try. i need to speak my truth, and now, as the baghavad gita supposedly says (and i say supposedly because i don’t actually recall ever reading it in the book but I really like it and it’s relevant, so i’ll go with it…) i need to tolerate the consequences of being myself. 

over the past year, seemingly, everything fell apart. seemingly, i lost everything. seemingly, everything i thought was real was unreal and my biggest fears and worst nightmares came true right before my very eyes. seemingly my true self  must be an awful, ugly horrible beast to deserve such suffering and pain.

but…above all the woe-is-me-self-loathing…somewhere…deep down…i could still hear that little voice that said everything is not always as it seems. whatever falls apart is no longer serving you. evolution-or dissipation, even-of relationships only creates room for deeper, truer, stronger unions…with others and yourself. beyond pain is growth, wisdom, empathy and gratitude. trust. 

i trust that even when life seems shitty, and nothing goes the way you wanted or expected, and your pants don’t fit…i trust that everything is just as it should be, that things will get better and that life is beautiful. i trust. i just have to. 

i don’t know if we are ever able to fully see truth. i don’t know that i will ever know just why the hell i am on this earth-and sometimes in this hell on earth-or exactly what i am supposed to be doing here. 

but. i do believe that the first step toward the capacity to even come close to kind of sort of maybe comprehending just what this life thing is all about is to question. hatha yoga nushasanam. and now, the inquiry of yoga. 

yes, my exploration into yoga has impacted my life and my philosophy on life profoundly. no, it has not been a smooth or easy transition. but despite everything i “lost” along the way, i gained so much more. i gained myself…and believe it or not,  good or bad, pretty or ugly, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, til death do us…okay that one doesn’t apply, but you get the point…come what may, i’d rather be me than anyone else.

so thank you, yoga. thank you, kripalu. thank you for ruining my life…and giving me the tools to build a better one.