Yoga is magic and it gives us the Universe, but not in the way that I had orginally thought.
I used to think that one day, if I practiced diligently enough, I would eventually be free of all my neurosis’s and all the other uncomfortable and difficult things in my life. I practiced and practiced and studied with incredible teachers all over the world. My life drastically improved; I felt better about myself, I experienced more ease and joy, and I actually felt excited to get out of bed in the morning. However, a few things didn’t change. Some days I still felt sad. Other days I felt completely confused. I still injured myself sometimes, and other times I ate too much sugar or drank too much coffee. I could go on, but I’ll spare you. Anyway, the point is, is that I never became perfect. I truly believed that yoga would somehow transform me into this perfect version of myself, and the “old me” wouldn’t exist anymore. I even secretly felt bad about it. I thought that maybe I wasn’t doing it right. I felt confused because even though there were so many things that improved about my life, I was still a little bit funky in a lot of ways.
Over time, I began to realize that yoga wasn’t what I thought it was.
Yoga wasn’t going to give me anything that I didn’t already have.
A close friend of mine who is also a mother, sent me this torn-out page from the Velveteen Rabbit (see the picture above). She sent it to me because she knew that I would understand it, and because it describes what I now know to be true yoga.
Being a mother of twins has rocked me. I haven’t slept for more than 4 hours in a row in over a year. My asana practice is completely different than it once was, because now I squeeze it in between putting the babies to sleep and the other numerous tasks of motherhood. I never had tight shoulders before, and now, from holding two 20 pound babies all the time, my shoulders are fricken’ tight. My abdominal muscles are is still recovering from carrying two heavy babies and having a c-section. In the midst of all of this, I am still doing good yoga.
Yoga is the process of becoming real. It is the process of loving ourselves in a radical way; not in spite of our imperfections and challenges but because of them.
There are times in our lives that are full of expansion and sparkles and shiny things, and we feel like we are flying in a cosmic soup of deliciousness. And then, there are times when we must dive to the depths of the ocean and meet all those weird creatures who live in the world of no sunlight. These times in the dark ocean are uncomfortable, a little scary, and wildly foreign. It usually feels like we’ve lost ourselves completely, and if we’re not courageous in a certain way, we spend the whole time wanting to get out.
Its so easy to love ourselves during the sparkly times. The harder part of yoga is to also love ourselves (and others) during the deep sea diving times. This part requires a radical kind of courage and strength; it is a willingness to stay open, awake and in love, even when it gets really uncomfortable. We must be willing to stay awake during the transformation. We must be willing to receive ourselves fully even as we fall apart.
This is the path of unconditional love, where we love, regardless of the conditions.
We can’t have the sparkles unless we’re willing to dive for them. Otherwise, they are like those fake plastic gemstones that quickly lose their luster when you rub them a little. Some people like the fake, plastic gemstones, and when they lose the luster, they just buy another one.
My yoga is the yoga of the Real. I know that its not the easy path, but I like to dive deep in the ocean sometimes. I know that its worth it, and the jewels that come from the depths are much more beautiful and interesting.
Like the Velveteen Rabbit, I’m a little shabby these days. Parts of me are getting loved off from this whole experience of mothering twins. But, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I wouldn’t choose something else.
Here I am, and I’m gathering jewels. I’m chillin’ with the funky creatures who glow in the dark and sparkle in the sunlight. I’m devoting myself to this incredible experience of watching my children become Real.
I’m awake right now and I’m not waiting for something else to happen. I’m Real and I’m in love with this part of my life too.