Last night, Corpse Pose brought me back to life.
A few weeks ago, I sat down to really think about why I wasn’t “happy, silly old me” anymore. Nothing seemed exciting in my world (except for the season premier of This Is Us). I’ve been dragging myself around for a while now. I’m still having my special brand of fun (running, cycling, gardening, Oktoberfesting), but most of what I’ve been doing to lead a happy, fulfilling life has lost its luster. The thrill of my activities and interests is just…gone.
Some of my melancholy mood has to do with weight gain, yes. Despite my ongoing effort, weight control will always be an issue for me. If I want to keep myself in check, I can’t drop the ball or slack off or “rest upon my laurels,” whatever the hell they are. Apparently, this is the one tough life lesson that I’ll go to my grave learning a hundred times over. I think we all have one.
In addition, some of my unhappiness and physical fatigue has to do with the continued political shit storm of our times. The fighting, the arguing – it’s exhausting. Some of it is brought on by my own offered opinions, yes, but most of it just swirls around in the air, making life heavier and more foul than it has to be. It’s a churning negative energy that won’t go away.
And the hurricanes. One after another, wreaking havoc and devastation. They’ve made us all feel helpless and vulnerable as we attempt to live our lives on this changing, ever-warming planet.
Oh, and that asshole, Kim Jong-un. Need I say more?
I thought about it, and I came to the conclusion that it’s not what I’m doing, it’s actually what I’m NOT doing that’s fueling my sadness, and contributing to a bleakness I can’t seem to shake. I know that I’ve simply been waiting around for something to change so that I can enjoy my life again, but I’ve been doing so without lifting a finger or putting in the time. What I realized is that I needed to bring something simple back into the picture in order to feel better again.
Enter yoga, stage left.
During my weight loss journey a few years back, I “discovered” yoga (yes, it was me, I discovered it, who knew?) – and I practiced nonstop. I loved it. I talked about it and I wrote about it.
I went to many different studios, and took all kinds of classes with different teachers because that’s how it was for me and my “big discovery.” When I started practicing “for real,” I wanted to look under every rock and around every corner to figure out what really worked for me. Hot yoga. Power Yoga. Gentle Yoga. Mixed-Level Yoga. Restorative Yoga. Even Goat Yoga! You name it, I was there, breathing, bending, twisting and downward dogging my way through class, forming opinions about what I liked and why I liked it. I was a warrior, a tree, an eagle, a pigeon, a cat, a cow, and a cobra. Sidebar fun fact: I was even a fish. I wrote this: How to Write a Yoga Manifesto and this one: You Can’t Always Get What You Want and this one: Yoga: A Body Loves It.
I was into it, man.
And now, I’ve been out of it for a while. Away from it. I stopped going. I’m not practicing. I disconnected from the thing that made me feel whole, (and wonderful, and peaceful).
Of course I have my excuses all lined up: “I went through a bout of depression.” “The class I love is too expensive, and too far away.” “One of my favorite instructors is no longer offering her class.” “I just don’t have the time anymore.” “I know enough about yoga to do it on my own, at home.” And my favorite: “I don’t need it.”
And it’s all such bullshit.
The truth is I became complacent and I let it slip away.
Last night was the second of an 8-class series I signed up for at the local high school. Yes, there are distractions that don’t make it “ideal.” Teenage football players clomping through the halls after practice. Coaches yelling here and there. An empty rec room devoid of any “yoga studio” charm.
But it’s this class that is softly leading me back. It’s leading me back to a regular practice for all the noble, delicious, life-affirming reasons I remember. Reasons like knowing when to let stuff go, being centered, remembering what’s important, being grateful, setting intentions, building inner strength, and feeling good about life and myself.
What I understand finally, without a doubt, is that my yoga practice is an important part of my authentic happiness, and my complete well-being. It’s important enough to pull it to the front of the line again. It’s what I need. And the distractions of these chaotic times, the excuses inside my own battle-worn mind, and all those yelling kids in the hallway won’t keep from it.
At the end of class, I extended my body for Shavasana. I inhaled and exhaled and made myself blissfully still.
Not thinking, planning, or wanting. Not anxious, emotional, or angry. Not busy, worried, or seeking. Not writing, rebuking, or analyzing. Not vulnerable, sad, or fearful.
I rested upon my mat and I was not anything.
As Buddha looked down, and the lights grew dim, I relaxed back into myself. Eyes closed, palms up, legs wide, on my back, breathing slower and slower still, I melted into a happy, quiet, little puddle.
But, magically, I came back. In that sacred space, where all of us practice love, acceptance, and kindness, I came back. In that room where all of us wish for peace, good health, spiritual prosperity, and a happy world, I came back.
Corpse Pose, the pose that laid me bare, the one that felt like ascension but kept me rooted to the ground, brought me back to life.
And I’m happier than ever to be here.