I believe in the power of yoga. I believe in learning something new, despite my age, arthritic hands, busy schedule, and often-aching muscles. Two years ago my daughter and I joined a new fitness facility, an unfinished, yet elegant place, designed just for women. We blithely walked, into our very first yoga class ever, and worked our way through 75 minutes of stretching, moving, not moving, tensing, sweating, and relaxing, in a way that I had never experienced in my then-55 years.
In the initial months, we tried a few other classes – aerobics (too militant), and Pilates (too friendly). But pretty soon we gave up any pretense of exploration. All we wanted was more yoga. And before long we became fairly picky about what kind of yoga we wanted. Day after day, week after week, we worked our schedules so that we could attend power vinyasa, hot yoga classes as often as possible.
And after about a year I realized how much I had learned and changed from what I thought at first was a strictly physical endeavor. Besides developing better balance and a slightly more flexible aging body, I had also learned a modicum of acceptance. As I rested in shavasana at the end of each yoga session, I learned to deliberately let go, and to try to welcome the changes and disruptions that occurred in my life. In a year I had experienced about 25 hours of shavasana, and during these hours, doled out in five-minute intervals, I learned to react differently to events in my life.
When my daughter announced that she and her boyfriend decided to move 850 miles away, I believe yoga saved my life. She had lived away from home for more than 10 years. When she moved back to town at the age of 28, we had our first opportunity to get to know each other as adults. And we loved it. I learned how she liked her coffee, what shampoo she used, and how she lived. She taught me and the rest of the family a lot through the way she lived, and by what she passionately believed.
So when I walked into that first yoga class after she had moved away, it was only through the lesson of acceptance and the serenity learned in yoga, that I was able to get through those 75 minutes. I ached to have her on the mat next to me, to share this with her, and to share coffee later. But then I stopped; I determinedly opened my heart to the possibilities this move offered her. Little by little, the physical ache eased. I was able to sleep, to not miss her company every single day.
Six months after the move, my daughter is claiming her new city as her own. And I have learned to see this change as good for both of us. I believe in yoga, and in what I learned through yoga about valuing and responding to my life.
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