From time to time I roll out my mat, but not with any regularity, and not with real commitment. My limbs are tight and stiff and protest the simplest of actions. My heart is tight and stiff, and my intent is sluggish and uncommitted.
I hurt. I ache. Physically and mentally. 'Go to a yoga class' you might logically suggest. But I'm embarrassed. I'm embarrassed of the way my body looks and I'm embarrassed of the way my body moves - or doesn't move. This body has never been terribly thin or lean, but she has been strong, and she has been flexible. She has performed on the mat with grace and presence and beauty, that uncoiled from the inside out.
She is now tired and heavy, stiff and tight. This is how I found myself - my new self - on my mat recently, on the deck in the misting rain, and I realized this was an opportunity. This moment was my opportunity to really practice yoga - not the yoga of soaring headstands, deep cleansing twists, and breakthrough wheels, but the yoga of commitment and compassion. This was my opportunity to open my heart to myself and lovingly accept that 'this is my uttanasana (forward bend),' 'this is my adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog),' 'this is my trikonasana (triangle).' This is my yoga practice. This was my opportunity to let go of my expectations of what my body should be able to do and what my body should look like. This was my opportunity to be present in this body and on my mat in this moment.
From this place is where the real yoga is practiced. It's easy to 'do yoga' when your body is fit and beautiful and will do what you ask of it. It's easy to make the yoga physical and forget about the yoga that needs to happen inside. It's easy to forget that there are 8 limbs of yoga and only one of those is the physical practice of asana (poses).
I am led back to my mat more often now - even if it's only for a few minutes. It is a connection that I am rebuilding and redefining for myself. And I give you this gift today - the gift of freedom from expectations. Discover or rediscover your 'mat,' your space where you can take even just 5 minutes to be - without fear, without judgement, without expectation; a space where you can reconnect.