"You're a Buddhist? Do you do yoga?"
I don't even want to tell you how many times I've been asked that question. And if you really are asking me that question, the answer would have been "No. I don't." I may have glared at you too.
I've been asked this so many times and it irritates me so much that it's become a standing joke between my husband and me. He sends me articles about yoga or if someone asks me that question in front of him, he hides a huge grin behind his hand.
Despite my general irritation with yoga, I have tried it off and on throughout the years. But it never took. Many yoga classes are too slow and too boring. Some are too fast and too confusing. I almost got into yoga last summer when I tried Hot Vinyasa. The sweat made me feel like I was actually accomplishing something. But most of the teachers were either too new-agey and soft-spoken or too hip and full of themselves.
But when my friend asked me to try a new place a few weeks ago, I said "Yes." I wanted to spend time with my friend. Plus I'm super stressed out and my body is super inflexible. I mean, despite not liking yoga, I've always known my body could benefit from it.
I carry my stress in my shoulders and neck. I'm a huncher from way back. Maybe it's because I was too tall too soon? As a young girl and teen, I hunched down to try and seem like I wasn't taller than all of the boys. And I don't handle conflict well. If there's tension in the room, my shoulders go up to my ears as though I'm shielding myself from a blow.
You try a lifetime of that and see if you're not wound as tight as a drum.
So I went to yoga.
And I liked it.
Like really, really liked it.
I found a class that just jived with me all around. It was after the kids went to bed. The class is never busy because it's the last one of the night and everyone else is probably going to bed. The yoga room is lit by candles and there's gentle music playing instead of hip modern tunes that are meant to make me push myself to the edge like a goddamn spinning class.
That's not what I need.
I need to lay on a mat in a hot room with only flickering candlelight.
On top of all that, it seems I've found a yoga teacher who speaks my language. He reminds me of the guiding teacher at my temple. He "gets" it. He's enlightened without being pious. He drops a lot of f-bombs and makes me laugh. He tells stories about letting go of all the shit that got you all riled up during the day and the way he tells it, it doesn't seem like some new-age pretentious bullshit.
It just seems like truth.
The other night, as we took a big breath in and then slowly exhaled, something happened.
"What if, when you exhaled this last time, you really let go? What if you let go of that thing that has burdened you the most? What would that be like? What would that feel like? What if with this breath, you finally let that shit go?" he said.
I thought of that place in my heart, the tender spot. That source of all my heartache. And instead of rolling my eyes, I allowed myself to consider it.
"What if I let it go?"
For a moment, while I exhaled, I imagined that I breathed out that hurt—flushed it out of my body, and where it once was, I was light.
Then I felt tears falling down the sides of my face. A part of me wanted to shake my fist at the room and say, "Damn you, Yoga! You finally got me!" But the other part of me felt … happy and relieved.
So I laid on the floor in the candlelight and kind of rejoiced in those tears.