That time I wept in yoga class

At first, yoga was exercise to me. I wanted the body that graced the covers of "Yoga Journal" so I kept practicing — hearing about the non-physical aspects of yoga from my teachers but not really listening. 

And then it happened.

I was in a class I had taken many times before, getting into camel pose — a pose that didn't come easily to me. It always made me feel stiff and uncomfortable. It hurt, really. 

Place your hands on your low back and as you exhale, slowly lower into camel pose, opening your heart center. 

I did as instructed. And for the first time in my practice, I was able to reach back and touch my heels. You would think I would be beaming at this progress. But something weird happened. 

I sobbed uncontrollably. 

I didn't know what my heart chakra was. I didn't really care. I knew I was overwhelmed with deep feelings of self-love and self-compassion — feelings that had been stuffed down with my eating disorder for years.

Please don't read this and think camel pose is the new cure for eating disorders. I was well into my recovery journey when this happened. But ending my addiction and loving myself are two distinct things. They complement each other nicely, but one occurred in therapy and the other in yoga class.

I'm not really sure what anyone else in the class thought as I cried. I didn't care. I was so overcome by emotion that nothing else mattered at that moment except the beautifully raw feelings I was releasing from captivity. 

I am more than my body. I deserve love. I deserve my own love. I've been cruel to myself and my body for too long. 

After taking a long savasana — not my typical "leave as soon as someone else fidgets or sneezes" rule I used to follow — I sat in my car for several minutes to digest what just happened to me. 

Shit. That was definitely more than fitness. Did I eat something funny? Shit. I feel great. I feel human. I feel vulnerable. Shit ...

It was after that night that I truly started practicing yoga. Without intension, I was struck by the power of yoga beyond its physical benefits. I was hooked. When I was on my mat, I was able to see beauty in myself. Eventually, what I learned on the mat started to carry on off the mat.

Fuckin’ yoga, man. It’s legit.

And now, heart openers — the poses I used to struggle with like the camel that made me cry — are my favorite. 

Have you ever had an "aha" moment on or off the mat? For me, it happened through yoga. But I'm certain this can happen in many situations. In the gym, during meditation or maybe even just sitting at a stop sign. If it's happened to you, you understand how life-changing it is ... like suddenly the world just opened its doors to you. 

If it hasn't happened to you yet, try camel pose. ;)


CC image via A National Acrobat on Flickr:

CC image via A National Acrobat on Flickr: