When I found myself on my yoga mat this morning, it was because I needed to be there. I had been walking for days on end in tightness, tension, frustration & sadness and when I arrived at class, I still felt like the last thing I wanted to do was break out of this shell of armor.
So I pulled my mat into a dark corner and laid there, waiting. I was early so, as I waited, my heart called to me: “I want to open.”
Trying to stay small, in my shell, and not attract too much attention, I pulled myself on my knees and leaned back, grabbing my ankles. But it still didn’t feel like enough; I had built such a wall around my heart. So, this time, I pushed up with my legs and my hands, expanding into a full wheel, a deep, heart-opening backbend.
Suddenly, I could find my breath, again. So I lifted my toes, relishing the feeling, pushing back & opening my shoulders, rocking back & forth, lifting my heart.
And that’s when I heard it, two women watching me, lamenting that they weren’t as flexible as “that young girl in the corner.” How it was “so easy” for her to just flip herself into any pose she’d like and how, for them, it was never so easy.
What I wish they knew was that I didn’t show up this morning to show off my flexibility—in fact, the only goal I wrote down right before I left for class was, “Show up.”
Show up as you are.
Show up despite your fears.
Show up and lean in instead of running from your feelings.
I wish they knew how hard it was for me to show up today, that just being there was a personal triumph.
That I am in process, just like they are, and I come to the mat to practice—over and over, again—what it means to dare to be seen as you are & to explore what it means to move in my body, to breathe into my body. To let my exhales not be small, but loud, heard—visible.
“I am not afraid of being seen as I am”—that is my practice.
I hope that, the more I show up in the fullness of my process, in a journey that is always on the verge of arriving before rolling over & beginning anew, again, that these women feel it, too, and this frees them to open themselves more.
I believe we deserve to feel safe & liberated in our bodies, a mix of terms that, for me, cannot be separate. May all beings who practice with me feel safe & free & worthy as they are.
And may we remember and practice compassion for ourselves and each other. Everyone faces a challenging journey & their own mountains to climb. It’s when we welcome others to walk arm-in-arm with us—to belong as they are—that we all rise higher.