For years, I resisted taking up yoga again. And I couldn’t have told you why, exactly, except that the resistance was unrelenting. And then, a month ago, the tendons of my right arm, from the base of my skull through to my finger tips, stopped working. I couldn’t grip a cup of water, or use the 10-key. I couldn’t pet the dogs without feeling like my palm had a razor blade at its center. I stopped doing any strength training for a week.

And there, stretched out in front of me, was yoga.

It wasn’t until I put the disc of Rodney Yee into the drive that I realized why I’d resisted. After my surgery, when I was too weak to hike the trail, or walk the dogs around the neighborhood, I’d ordered this disc and tried to put my broken self back together. I’d stretched out on the speckled carpet in the living room, with the dogs flanking me, and watched his chest open wider and wider.

I reached for the nails of my toes. For the ceiling. For the speckled carpet. I leaned over the dogs, and back into the couch. I breathed as though it didn’t hurt me to walk from here to the bathroom. As though holding myself in a sitting position didn’t cost everything. I leaned into my own body and wished and wished and wished.

Not even to be well. Not even that. Not be well or be strong. Just be. Exist. Please continue to exist. It was like a cliff face, my body. I had to climb back up it. To grip my knees, and hip bones. To rest against my pelvis. To claw into these ribs, and breasts, and collar bones. Wrap myself around neck. Bury face into hair.

I had to learn to be broken and alive and recover.

I had to lean into my body and breathe deeply and love my self. This fucking trainwreck of a self. This traitor. This scrawny girl clawing her way back.

I have so much love for this body now. For my terrible posture. For my aching arms. For the way I lean over my own knees in cross-legged forward bend, and then slowly, lean even deeper. So that I can feel the muscles expand and contract and support me. So that I can feel the breath push in and out.

Alive. Not always well. Not always strong. Alive. So alive. Grasping at myself for all I am worth. Holding on. And then letting loose again as though I were nothing but atoms. Nothing but breath. Nothing but this unrelenting desire. This love for every every every thing.

4 thoughts on “Yoga”

  1. I have so much love and fellow-feeling for your journey, Jill, being on a similar trajectory as far as learning to love my body, both its limitations and its strengths, and to honor other people’s human dis/abilities accordingly. I am, as always, grateful for your writing.

  2. I recently restarted my own yoga practice too after a few year hiatus. I started after my first spouse died, as a way to start practicing self care, or grieve maybe? and I eventually stopped… for some reason. I don’t recall. A part of my mind has always just tied the idea to starting again to loss, or maybe desperate need for a foundation… but regardless, I’ve started again, it is time to see if I can flow through the baggage I’ve tied to it.

    I hope your arm feels better soon. Your writing is always beautiful to me.

    1. Thank you, Kira!

      I’m not sure why it took me so much time to see why I was resisting, but I am filled with so much peace when I do yoga. I think in a way I was resisting that peace as well as the connection to my own suffering. Peace is hard.

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