This is a personal letter to my yoga practice, published in Elephant Journal, Nov ’14…Cheryl x
Dear yoga practice: I miss you.
We used to be great friends, but lately I’ve felt you slipping away.
I want to be honest and tell you that I’ve been harbouring strange feelings towards you, to the point that sometimes I can’t be bothered to work at our relationship anymore. I know this sounds harsh, so I’m reaching out to you. What can we do? We used to have a great thing going. Do you think we can get this back?
I know where the problems began. I was so diligent in cultivating our connection from the moment I met you, right up until the birth of my daughter. During my pregnancy, we got it together every day and I felt unbeatable. The more my bump grew, the more amazing I felt, and you were what kept me going.
You made me feel strong, empowered, like I could take on the world. Then my labour came. The longer it went on, the more difficult it became. I forgot what you told me about being present—my thoughts of breathing went out the window. In those final few hours, I couldn’t get through by relying solely on you anymore.
And when my beautiful girl arrived, all 10 pounds and eight ounces, I knew I had done what I had to do to bring her into the world, even if it wasn’t the way we had practiced.
After the birth, things with you went a little more downhill. My mind became packed and distracted—I pushed you away. I didn’t think you could help me escape the feeling of not being able to cope with the pressures of motherhood. I thought I’d rather catch up on some shut-eye than check in with you at all. In truth, I didn’t know when I could fit you in or when I’d ever be able to again.
With a little one demanding my constant attention, there always seemed to be a more pressing use of my time. The roller coaster of hormones and emotions left me feeling raw—too raw to face what you might have in store for me on the mat. An aching body, an overwhelmed mind, a sorry excuse for a practice that looked nothing like it used to.
I kept seeing the amazing relationships people had with their yoga practices, from their physical prowess to the sheer amount of time they had to hook up on their mats. It left me feeling inadequate. We never quite got there did we? And yes, sometimes that made me so annoyed with you—defeated, deflated and downright jealous of what could be.
Sometimes you just didn’t cut it for me, the way I really thought you should.
Over time you often became unrecognisable to the yoga practice I once knew. With your hip leggings and cool videos, I couldn’t keep up with how fast you were moving. I thought that you were only concerned with how far I could go, how deep I could practice, how much time I could put in.
I felt like you’d rather be with someone more beautiful, more bendy—someone with more time to devote to you every day. Someone who could travel with you at the drop of a hat to far flung yogic places and incense filled ashrams, who could sit in meditation without a brain so cluttered, full of to-do lists.
But I was still aware of your magic, and I longed to get that back.
I can see it each day in the students I teach. I can feel your energy as they lie in savasana, and I got a glimpse of how things could be again. If only we made time for each other, no matter how small the window of opportunity needed to be.
In truth, I had forgotten that you care and that you are only there to help—that you would rather we snatched 10 minutes of time than see me suffer through the guilt of not spending a full hour in your presence. I had forgotten that you don’t need an agenda, the latest yoga gear or a laptop to be able to get it together.
I had forgotten what it used to be like, just you and me, with nothing left to prove.
So, can we start again? Maybe even at the beginning, without the pressure. Without worrying about what we should be doing. I know that means some big changes on my part—to let go of wishing you were a certain way, to stop thinking about my past and how we used to be.
Why don’t we just show up and see how it goes? Let’s make a date tonight—just a few minutes. I’ll turn off my computer. I’ll take a deep breath and we can take it from there. I know we won’t regret it.
I’m looking forward to it already.