Emily White: When yoga finds you

I have been told that yoga finds you when the time is right.

When my yoga finally found me, I felt a bit like Molly McGrue from “The Last Unicorn,” one of my all time favorite movies/books.

“Where have you been?” Before the whiteness and the shining horn, Molly shrank to a shrilling beetle, but this time it was the unicorn’s old dark eyes that looked down.

“I am here now,” she said at last.

Molly laughed with her lips flat. “And what good is it to me that you’re here now? Where where you twenty years ago, ten years ago?”… “it’s alright, I forgive you.”

I started taking lunchtime yoga classes while going to school full-time and working as a secretary intern for an international corporation. I remember loving the muscle tone that I developed. I remember deep intentional breaths. I don’t remember why I stopped going or why I never thought about it again until the injury.

I grew up in Michigan, did time for another degree in Chicago and then moved out to Western Massachusetts so my husband could get his PhD. We did not know a soul near Amherst, MA. Without a job, we moved at the start of the recession. Luckily, at least he had a full ride for school.

I grew to love the liberal hippy indulgence that is Northampton and Amherst. But I ended up in a job that I despised. Data entry. Phone calls. Emails. Don’t think, just do.

To pass the time and stay in shape, I started cooking and baking everything from scratch and going to the gym. I worked my way up to spending 40 minutes on the elliptical every morning before work.

Three years after, I finally remember what I put myself through. Oatmeal for breakfast. Homemade bread and jam and store crushed peanut butter and carrots for lunch. Apples. Tea. Detox tea. A very tiny portion of what I made my husband for dinner…in fact, some nights I threw half of it in the trash and ate a salad and called it good.

One morning I woke up and swung my feet over the side of the bed, straightened my legs and pressed my feet down into the rough blue carpet. Immediately tears came to my eyes and I had to sit back down. My right hip was shooting pain throughout my entire body. I slammed some painkillers and went about my day.

The pain didn’t go away.

I didn’t want to stop my elliptical routine, even though I wasn’t training for a damn thing.

Finally, when I was in so much pain that I could not bend down to pull weeds away from my Purple Dragon Carrots, I conceded my workout routine and rested. Then came the ultrasound and the x-ray and the horse pill-sized pain relievers. The specialist told me I had a stress fracture in the bone of my hip.

I obsessively worked out and starved myself into a bone fracture.

The specialist suggested water aerobics, walking or yoga.

Right! Yoga. I had forgotten about you.

I found my way into an Ashtanga class just three days before we moved to Lansing, MI. The sound of the breath in the room was awe inspiring. The movements were strong and intentional and fluid. I fell in love with yoga. The instructor and I had a long discussion about how I should find a studio as soon as I got to Lansing. I started taking free and basics yoga classes at Hilltop Yoga. I started going to classes at Yoga State. I felt my body, mind and soul begin to knit back together.

I had to eat more. You can’t make it through an hour and a half of a power yoga class without treating your body well. The strength isn’t attainable without feeding yourself right. So, I ate more, because I wanted to be able to hold plank pose and to find bakasana.

I found my way to Just B Yoga and immediately fell in love. Physical practice, mindfulness, wholeness of being and community? I’m in.

Although I started going to yoga for physical reasons, I discovered so much more within myself and the world.

Like Molly wishing the unicorn had come earlier in her life, I used to wish that yoga had found me sooner. I accept that this is the right time now and it was not then. I look forward to many more years of practice and learning and I am blessed to be drawing this…very…breath.

Hope to see you in a class soon.

(Emily White teaches slow flow yoga Sundays at 4:30 p.m.; She also blogs at Love and Cinnamon)

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