One brisk snowy night in November when I was newly 19 years old, I took my boots off and cautiously walked into a warmly lit yoga studio down the street from my part-time coffee shop job.
At the time, yoga seemed so foreign and exotic. My doctor had recommended I incorporate regular exercise into my routine and after a hesitant call to the studio owner, I began bending and stretching myself in a beginner’s class. Each week I showed up on Tuesday nights at 7pm, rolled out my mat and willed my body to move in unfamiliar and uncomfortable ways.
The practice dug into my bones, melting my resistance, and I began attending more classes. Striking poses in the small kitchen off the cafe where I mixed drinks a few nights a week gave me brief moments of peace. The scent of roasted espresso and hot milk lingered on my yoga mat, and my mat was on my mind while I slugged through school. Although my schedule was full to the brim and always nearing the tipping point, yoga bathed me in simple peace, taught me how to breathe into discomfort, and to trust my own intuition and the resiliency of my body.
Eleven years later and my feet still find mountain pose when standing, whether waiting in line at the post office or on my mat. When the undercurrents of motherhood and work threaten to swirl around my feet and pull me under, I roll out my mat. Lately my yoga practice has become as habitual as a cup of coffee and breakfast in the morning. It’s not usually relaxing these days, with kids crawling all over me asking for all the things I cannot give them in that moment. And still, my body works through the poses in subconscious memory, like those times when you find you’ve driven somewhere but cannot remember the journey.
In the midst of everything on your plate, through the tumult and struggle of normal life, how do you find space to breathe and care for yourself? Is it the last thing on your list, the very comfort most needed and yet often ignored? I want to encourage you to think about what activity brings you the most peace and add it to the daily list of non-negotiables. Give yourself grace when life makes it nearly impossible to commit, but don’t give up either. Show up for class, take that run, read that book in a quiet room. Do what you have to do to take better care of yourself and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.