archives, yoga

Standing on My Own Two Feet.

{Photo: Christina Collazo}

{Photo: Christina Collazo}

After my divorce, I found myself practicing Yoga in a body I did not remember.

Sure I’d lived in that body for 36 years, but my Yoga practice was foreign to me. I’d been practicing Yoga regularly, weekly, teaching even, for almost 10 years by then. But when I found myself solo after 10 years of marriage and two kids in tow, I didn’t recognize myself on so many levels.

I remember the moment I found my body unfamiliar and unsteady during my Yoga practice. I just couldn’t do reverse triangle pose.  I was trembling, the footing not quite right.

“Shift your hips here, ground your heels here, extend here, lift from here…”

Ah, but none of it worked. I just couldn’t stand on my own two feet in this pose anymore. Defeated, I began sitting it out and curling up into a child’s pose when the teacher would call out Reverse Triangle.

I remember it as a moment of surrender on the Yoga mat. My tough love Yoga teacher was saying something to the class about powering through, we could do it! We were stronger than we thought! Dig deep!

But I allowed myself to sit that one out anyway. I no longer cared if anyone thought I was avoiding this pose. How could they possibly know I truly wasn’t standing on my own in that time of my life and I was okay with knowing that? Why are we so afraid to admit to one another we need support sometimes?

I would fall apart daily for a while, supported by my mother who took us in. I was uplifted by my friends who would drink too much wine with me after the kids went to bed. I was encouraged by the kindness from strangers smiling at me when I took too long with my kids in the grocery store line.

It eventually took almost a year of allowing myself to sit this one out before I realized I was gifting myself self-compassion.

By allowing myself to sit out of those poses on my own two feet, I was symbolically letting myself mourn for what could have been, grieve for the unknown of how I could mother my children and support us financially too, weep for the unknown if I’d ever be able to stand on my own two feet again.

Eventually, I did stand again.

I stood tentatively at first. Breath by breath on the Yoga mat, I unfurled. It was gradual, my unfurling into that dang Reverse Triangle and every other pose. At each practice, my feet would be a bit more steady, as I would breathe and expand. Soon, my poses on the mat mirrored my new-found strength off of the mat.

I began standing up for myself with dignity. I began walking away from unhealthy relationships. I began standing firm in who I was becoming. The unknown was, and is, never far off, but now I practice facing it with self-compassion.

Today I am unsteady. Literally, right now, as I write this, I have doubts! But I am aware of how far I’ve come. So far, this Yoga journey has led me back to a body I understand. I know how to allow myself moments of surrender with self-compassion.

I am infinitely grateful for the supportive loved ones in my life, and know I wouldn’t be here without them.

Maybe we aren’t always meant to stand on our own two feet.

It’s okay to surrender sometimes. Haven’t we always stood back up? Allow yourself the support of those around you! And if you’re feeling particularly strong today, genuinely smile at that hurried mama in the grocery store. You might be lifting her up and not even know how much she needed that.

We are all in this together, after all. One step at a time.

*****

#StandUp

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