Life is an overwhelming experience. To me. People, unplanned events, mood, hormones. All those things surround me until I feel like they are taking all my oxygen. And I can’t breathe. And I become nervous, I start stressing, snapping. I lose myself and my energy. And I feel guilty for being unable to control. Control myself. My body. My emotions. All those waves in which I drown.
While awakening to life I realized I didn’t need to control my body. Nor myself. It wasn’t about controlling, it was about going with the flow and instead of fighting with those waves of stress rolling on me, instead of trying to strive against a water of anguish penetrating each of my pores, I could master the art on staying on top of this sea of emotions and events. They wouldn’t disappear and I wasn’t able to fight it, no one could. But I could float. Yes float on top of it. I wouldn’t walk away but I could make it stay away from me by creating a mental space.
And this is what yoga brought to me. A space where I am safe. A space to be present, myself and breathe. It is a physical space, one that I build during practice, being conscious of my body and releasing tension. It is a mental space, that I create while doing yoga and which lasts as long as I remember that I can allow, or not, things to enter my space and disturb my peace. This space is crucial for me.
Whenever I don’t practice the people who know me the best can tell. Whenever I don’t have these – at the very least- 10 minutes in the morning suddenly I feel trapped. Trapped in a box with very limited oxygen. When I first realized this feeling was invading each of my days I was working for a company in Paris. And I felt that I needed something to hold on to. A kind of life buoy to stay on top of everything. Because I needed to succeed in this company I took yoga as my savior.
I started yoga during a cold month of January with a yoga challenge. Really, I mean. Before that I had had a few trials. Because yoga was trendy and I wanted to look like those amazingly good looking yoga goddesses but I always gave up after a few times. Not flexible enough. Too much belly fat. Not enough strength. This time it was different and I kept up with the yoga challenge. Thirty days. Waking up everyday at 6:15 to practice before work. Without a day off. The huge difference was that I needed it.
I needed to do something for me. I wasn’t expecting reward such as a good-looking body. I just wanted to have this moment, this space in time, before the rush of my day. And I discovered that this tiny moment of my day. This half an hour to myself was really changing my days. I could build a little space to be calm and quiet. I could have a little more oxygen to dip into the ocean of stress that life was for me at that time. My love for yoga started at that period. Not because of appearance but because of what started growing inside of me. Peace and breath.
I didn’t stay consistent. Life is overwhelming as I said. But I had experienced the benefits of yoga. And I knew it was good for me. Especially in the worst of days when I was woken up by a phone call from work at 5:45am and was coming home at 11pm straight from work. I knew it but I didn’t do it. I started again once this crazy period was over. To reconnect with the self I had lost. My self.
It was difficult because while practicing I couldn’t escape my thoughts. They were all coming to me. And while I was just trying to be present and focus on my body and how it was feeling in each posture they were all around me. Little by little they started to go away. It was just me, on my mat, the ground or the grass. Breathing in and out. Here and now. This was the only important thing at that exact moment. It didn’t cure my bad moments. But it gave me a space of time in which all I have to do was to be.
I kept on practicing. On and off. Sometimes everyday, sometimes once a week. Sometimes only a few salutations, sometimes long sessions thanks to YouTube videos. But whenever I felt that I needed it. And most important when I didn’t, I knew I had yoga. I started talking about it. Realizing that no, I didn’t need to be an accomplished yogi to talk about it. No, even if I can’t stand on my arms or do some crazy posture I can talk about yoga. I got more and more interested. Started listening to podcasts about yoga philosophy. Discovering new teachers.
Discovering new benefits as well. My body got stronger, my mind as well. I could breathe out what was building anguish in my lungs. I got more flexible, feeling how grateful my back was for the relaxation I gave it. I started repeating myself some mantras to get rid of my discomfort. Repeating the Four Agreements. And I discovered the power of space for time.
I was often panicked by the amount of things on my to-do list and the very little time I had. And the more panic I felt, the faster time was going. Yoga made me discover that time was mine. I could feel going slower to make the most of it, or breathe it out to let it go. It was valid for postures but also for life. Time was in my hand and it made a huge difference.
With the ability to float on the sea of my emotions, the possibility to be “just” present and time in my hands I felt stronger. Relieved from the obligation to be strong because to float you don’t need that. And because I could float I wasn’t invaded anymore and I could choose my direction.
Of course, things are not perfect. Of course I have days when I can’t handle it. Frustration wins. Stress is strangling me. But I know I have yoga, I can breathe. And I’m not under the waves anymore. Drops of the sea are falling on me. But I have space. My space to be.