I could not keep still.
In the first few weeks of community quarantine, I followed classes from YogaPlus, I Go Beyond, YouTube. But eventually my mat fell out of use, remaining rolled up, leaning against a wall or across my similarly unused blocks.
Something stopped me from doing yoga. Perhaps it was because, for me, yoga was acceptance, peace of mind, calm. Yoga had helped me come to terms with the overwhelming work of motherhood. Last year, I finally tried aerial yoga, and finally enjoyed hot yoga. I learned the beauty of yin yoga for rest and healing, and the joy of vinyasa flow for challenging my body. I loved the different kinds of energy I found at different studios.
For me, yoga was accepting what my body could (or could not) give me. Yoga was about finding calm within, despite the multitude of things I could not control. Yoga was about finding joy in what was, instead of discontent, instead of pining for what might be.
For the past few months, I resisted this, because I did not want to feel calm, peaceful, or accepting of what was happening in the world. I could not still myself for a vinyasa, nor fold myself into Child’s Pose. I could not surrender in savasana.
I was angry, sad, anxious. How could I even begin on any form of acceptance or peace of mind? I did not want this world, this life. I did not want to accept that this lockdown was the new reality, that this pandemic was the new normal. I hated the distance we needed to maintain. I refused to accept that this was the way we had to exist now.
I wanted to fight. I could do daily push-ups. I had energy to lift weights. I did up to 150 squats a day, and lunges and stairclimbers. I even found myself doing Zumba. Anything to build strength and muscle, anything that spent my energy. I felt like I had to be in fighting form, like I had to be ready for anything.
I had been using the Headspace app for meditation. It helped me sleep at night. One day, I decided to explore the other options in the app, and I saw a video for mindful movement. Across stretches and movement, I found myself in familiar yoga poses, and I realized I had missed this. I had missed pushing my body gently outside my comfort zone. I had missed tuning out the world and listening to my body.
But most of all, I had missed the kindness that yoga always imparted. “Take what your body gives you,” the instructor said. And I was reminded that I don’t need to push myself all the time. That I can be okay, that I can be here and now, that I don’t have to be hurt or angry or sad all the time.
It has been many months, but I have found myself on the mat again. Sometimes it’s mindful movement through Headspace. Usually it’s Yoga With Adriene. This morning, I woke myself up with yoga instead of coffee.
I’m a long way from the headstands and arm balances that my friends are doing, but that’s okay. There will be days when I’ll feel more like a Zumba session than a yoga practice, and other days when I might want to go boxing. But it’s good to know that the mat is always there, and I can practice anytime, no matter the state of the world.