On January 27, 2016, I finally got my ass into a Mysore-style class with a real authorized Ashtanga yoga teacher. I knew right then and there that something way different was at work, although I couldn’t have explained it at the time.
The first month I went to class 4 days a week. I couldn’t sleep at night. My body, although profoundly tired, was lit up in an extraordinary way. I felt a vibration, an energy, that wouldn’t turn off when I climbed in bed. It drove me crazy. Pulsations of life.
As I learned to relax more, not so overwhelmed with the new practice, as I paid more attention to my breath, the current settled down, and I could sleep again. Then I was sleeping better than ever. I added another day, five days a week. About 8 months in, 6 days a week.
A year of committed practice is no small thing. A year ago, I was ready to give myself over to the right thing, if only I could find it. I was at the tail-end of a dating relationship with a very sweet but addicted man; that relationship compelled me to be even more committed to health and sanity. I came home from my first Ashtanga class and broke up with him immediately.
Over the past year, I feel things in my life coming into alignment.
Certain things dropped away naturally, almost without effort, and some things fell/are falling away as a result of firm decisions. I stopped eating meat. I stood up to my ex-husband. I eventually stopped dating (not forever, just long enough). I stopped buying shit I didn’t need (this will be a work-in-progress forever). I stopped working at an unfulfilling job. I dumped a couple of job plans that I invented out of sheer practicality.
I added other things. I started buying healthier food (my kids ask, “Where’s the good food??” and I say, “You mean, where’s the junk food? It’s not here!”). I started reading again, a lot. I started listening to podcasts that inspired me. I started writing again. I started initiating conversation with people I was interested in knowing better at the shala. I started working for a friend.
The last couple of months have been marked with a new calm. And I just know the calm isn’t a permanent condition. I earn that shit. Every day I take my whole self to the mat, do what I know, with the best breath I can manage. And I come out settled. Until the next day.
Every day we collect dust and debris. The spirit starts to rust the moment it’s been shined up. Every day I go back to the practice to blow off the dust and debris and knock off the rust.
Ashtanga most certainly has been the “right” thing for me. And the one right thing lead to other right things. On this one year anniversary, I am profoundly grateful to this beautiful practice, the other students who have encouraged me in so many ways, and my teachers, who walk their talk.