I spent 10 years as a slow but committed distance runner, which is to say I spent 10 years learning to divorce my brain from my body. Forcing myself to think about anything but the physical discomfort, I’d put my legs on autopilot and just go. There’s much to be said for grit, and it served me well for a long time — until it didn’t. A bunch of things in my life fell apart, most of all me, and I knew that of all the things that were no longer of service, incongruence was top of the list.
I came to yoga during a difficult and painful season of my life because I didn’t know what else to do. Grief is physical; it takes up residence in the body. I had moments when my sadness felt so thick and palpable, I thought it might strangle me. So I forced myself to walk into a hot yoga studio in Kansas City, paid for an unlimited month, and went 26 times in 30 days. And then I just kept going.
These days, I’m exploring what yoga offers me outside of crisis, and I think the biggest thing is this: I am learning to companion my imperfect body, moment by moment. I am learning to set aside achievement for presence, and critique for grace. I’m learning to bless my body instead of punish it. I’m learning to connect what I think and how I feel to what I do, and vice versa. In short, I am learning congruence, body and soul.
Tonight, I had a hard time getting myself to the mat; I almost didn’t go. But I went. And at the end of class, lying in stillness on the floor, I thanked my body for carrying me through the hour. And in that moment, finally given permission to speak, my body thanked me back for honoring what it needed.