The last few years were full of change for me. Multiple career changes, workplace bullying, the loss of my father, babies turning into teenagers. Change.
I felt unbalanced. Emotionally, out of whack. I didn’t know whether I was coming or going. My self-esteem was at an all-time low.
My body felt it too. I gained back the 10 lbs that I’d kept off for years. I stopped exercising, and used every excuse in the book to justify purchasing the next size up, including insisting to myself that my nanny was shrinking my clothes.
I started working full-time again, after years at home with my kids. I disconnected as a Mother, even forgetting to search my scattered boys’ backpacks for notes. I didn’t even know what they liked for lunch anymore. I started travelling for work, missing days upon days of my childrens’ lives. I hated trying to balance everyone else’s needs with my own. So, I got lazy, gave up, just let everything slide.
I started practicing hot yoga, but wasn’t committed entirely to strengthening my body, but more than importantly than that, my spirit. I would go, and stop, and go. Even with the new ways that yoga enabled my body to move, the physical effects of my imbalance continued to show. My skin was dull and blotchy, my hair thinned out, and I started to see some wiry greys poking their way through.
The worst? My body started to rebel against the instability, and I started to get aches and pains and injuries that interfered with both my daily life and my ability to stay fit. One day I couldn’t move my neck, the next I had tendonitis so bad in my wrist I couldn’t even type, never mind wash my hair. I had pain in my leg so bad I sometimes felt I couldn’t walk.
Even when I was practicing yoga, I felt crooked. When I’d lay in Savasana, it was like I couldn’t get flat. My hips weren’t level, one should higher than the other. It was like one side of my body wanted to go one way, and the other another. In the mirror, I saw the physical effects of my lack of symmetry. I’d pull back into boat pose and would appear to be leaning to one side. I’d lie to myself and think it was my towel or my mat askew, but it wasn’t. It was me.
A few months ago, I started to feel my life straightening itself out. I found work that I loved, had supportive friends; I’d weeded out the chaff. So I thought….
My yoga teacher pulled me aside after class last week. ‘I notice you’re crooked. You’re off balance.’ What? I was totally feeling on track.
It wasn’t just in my head, I realized. Other people could see on the outside how I’d been feeling on the inside. I thought I was more centred; at least that’s how I felt. What was going on? Was it just taking longer for my physical to catch up to my spiritual?
‘You need to stand more grounded.’ the yoga instructor continued, ‘Plant your feet to the earth. Centre yourself, keep your weight even on both sides. Other people work on contracting. Your practice is lengthening. Grounding and lengthening. Use your centre and your breath to keep you even.’
I walked away thinking about what she said. It seemed like I still had a lot of work to do to regain my equilibrium. But, I was heading in the right direction, since I was aware. I knew, that unlike the Divi Divi Tree that naturally grows crooked, I didn’t have to stay like this permanently.
I could stretch and lengthen, open myself up to balance, use my centre, and, of course, breathe.
If I’m losing balance in a pose, I stretch higher and God reaches down to steady me. It works every time, and not just in yoga.
Editor’s Note: Today at Yoga, another teacher said something even more compelling: ‘You cannot change from the outside in. You must change from the inside out. ‘