Honesty and Heartbreak and Finding My Way Back To The Mat

I work at Athleta now.

That is just one of three part-time jobs I’m juggling out here in Colorado. Full-time writing gigs in the ad world are few and far between these days. I know this schedule isn’t forever, but it’s working-ish so far. But that’s another post I’m working on right now. 

So, yeah. Athleta. One reason I chose it was because they were the first to call me back. And the second was for the community. Power of She, they call it. It’s about doing what feels real and authentic and true to you–finding out what makes you feel like the most awesome you, tapping into that and frickin going for it. Together.

At least that’s what I took from the mandatory orientation presentation.

Athleta got me thinking about a post I wrote awhile back about finding my way back to yoga after so long. Doing what I wanted to do and needed to do in a real moment. Every time I walk through Athleta’s doors, it makes me want to roll out my mat and do some deep breathing. I like it, and I’ll definitely be taking advantage of free classes in-store very soon.

If you’re struggling to heal, like I still am, or find your way back to something after so long, I hope this one speaks to you. It’s a nice little #tbt to wrap up this beautiful, sunny Thursday we’re having in Colorado.

((***EDITED TO ADD: I wrote this Wednesday, October 25th thinking it was Thursday the 26th already. My days and brain are totally upside down.))

Enjoy, my friends… and Push on, PUSH ANIMALS >>>

It had been a year since I stood at the end of my mat. More than a year. More than a year since I stood feet plated, hands at heart center, belly button tucked, eyes closed, knees soft, jaw relaxed, breathing in and then out. In. And out again. Slow and steady and rhythmic. More than a year since I was still and calm inside myself and my thoughts in a room surrounded by people craving the zen of a silent Sunday morning flow. Deep breath in. Deep, deep breath out.

For more than a year my mat stayed in its neon yellow bag in a closet, moving just once when my address changed. It was patient, waiting for me to need it again.

One or three or two Saturday evenings ago I had another good cry. It started deep in my gut and flooded every cell in my body. The crying turned into sobbing. The kind of sobbing born out of a deep and painful heartbreak. I let it out–the pain–into the closest pillow, until I felt nauseous and dizzy. Until I couldn’t physically breathe and cry at the same time without passing out. And slowly, minute by minute, Saturday turned into Sunday, and I nodded off in a foggy, misty, achy, snotty haze. 

Then, as it does every week, Sunday came. A rare chilly, foggy, gray January morning just barely peeked through the shades; my mood in weather form. I shifted a little in my blanket burrito. Everything hurt. My head. My heart. My abs. Coughing and crying and sniffing the pain out of my body the night before could’ve passed for a workout. The toilet paper roll was still wedged between my shoulder and the headboard. I srunched my toes, bent my knees; I let the blood fill my muscles. 

When I finally peeled myself out of bed and plodded down the stairs to my coffee maker, I remembered lululemon was hosting free yoga that morning. I don’t know where my brain plucked that piece of knowledge from or why, but there it was. And I couldn’t forget it. It had been more than a year. 

After a little back and forth, I went forth and threw back the last gulp of my third cup of hazelnut coffee. I squeezed my hams into my favorite pair of black leggings and headed to lululemon, my mat slung around my shoulders and over my back like Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games.” Prepared for war. My only plans the rest of the day involved being sad. And I needed a break from that.

I walked into the studio, found a space near the back, and rolled my mat across the floor. The edges curled against the cold hardwood. In that moment it felt like a release because for more than a year my mat and I had been wound so tightly. Tucked away. Waiting. Compressed. Like me. Like just about every single thing in my life. It needed to be wrung out. Talked to. It needed attention, and it needed to be loved again. 

For the next hour I moved through each pose, following commands, closing my eyes when I was told, breathing in and out. I was rusty, but I held crow twice, and that felt good for more than 12 months away from my practice. 

Savasana. Our last pose. My favorite, but that Sunday morning I dreaded it. Because in five minutes I had to rejoin reality. I had to walk out of lululemon alone, mat wrapped around my tired body. I had to walk home and I had to live with the pain again.

But because I felt just a little bit lighter, and a little more clear, I had to promise myself I wouldn’t go another more-than-a-year without unrolling my mat. 

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