Why I Do Yoga

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Yoga does me, the way a good man can. Since my man died, and I’m not ready to leap into another’s arms, I do yoga.

I did yoga before he died. I did yoga before we got together. It feels good to stretch my tight muscles, like a massage from the inside, based on movement and breath.

Yoga’s simple, but rarely easy. I went on a yoga teacher training retreat. After doing yoga 2-4 times a day for six days, the last experience was excruciating. Not in my body, but in my unmanageable mind. What? Are you fucking kidding me? Haven’t we done enough yoga?! That was my practice for the day. Yoga mirrors life.

Off the mat, I find myself saying, Haven’t I done enough? Eaten enough vegetables, drank enough water, seen enough loved ones die?

When I heard the news about Kevin, I thought, What? Are you fucking kidding me? He’s dead? That’s not possible. But it was. I could feel my heart hugging itself so tight for protection it was closing. Grief had me. My reality was pulled out from under me. I felt sucker punched by the universe.

I couldn’t get myself to do anything. I texted two girlfriends saying I’d go to yoga if they’d pick me up. Their answer had an exclamation point.

It started to rain. I made a cup of tea and relaxed on the couch with a thousand reasons to back out.

Grief wanted to hold me back. I suddenly wondered if there’s such a thing as grief yoga. There is.

In the midst of my heavy sadness, I felt hope. I can’t explain it,

but grief, writing, and yoga feel like my three sisters. I may have a lifelong relationship with them.

Because, shit—people are going to die in my life. This will not be the last time I’ll grapple with grief.

She’s a hard, tough, mean coach, with wisdom and heart. Grief softens and I strengthen with each yoga practice.

I practice being present. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by music or a movement. Yoga opens me up.

When Kevin first died, I went to yoga with desperation to have some sort of control and someone tell me what to do because in the face of death, I lost my sense of direction.

I asked the instructor if it was ok to cry in yoga and could she please focus on opening the heart?

People in yoga were gracious. They gave hugs like sharing food. They didn’t expect me to talk. They were strangers and I felt at home.

I do yoga because my mom died at age 56. Though the doctors called it cancer, I’d argue my brother’s death from a car accident five years prior caused the broken heart that hit my mom like an illness.

I don’t welcome either of those to live in my body. Yoga makes me stronger, safer, more present and peaceful as I make my way through life’s WTF? moments.

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