Yesterday my old yoga studio reached out to me. Long story short, I used to practice yoga for years and found it to be the only regular exercise practice I have ever maintained in my life, mainly due to the fact that I enjoyed it so much. I remember very well my first class at the studio. I had no clue what was going to happen, I laid there slightly nervous in Savasana waiting for the teacher to prompt us with instructions. Without a single expectation, I flowed(less than gracefully) through the class. I remember leaving the studio with a very clear head. The commute, the many passers-by, the sights I hated, did not bother me one bit. In fact, I noticed so much I never took the time to stop and look at. I remember how ‘new’ everything felt.
Throughout the years of practice, I found myself looking inside of myself with new eyes as well. My body was more capable of what I thought it was capable of, my mind was calmer than I always felt it to be. I became less reactive, and handled my anxiety in a way that made it possible for me to function. And then I moved abroad and ceased my practice completely – lack of money, lack of time, insert-one-more-excuse-here, etc. I spent the past years missing it, and went to various studios for that time, but not on a consistent basis, and so that feeling of ‘enlightenment’ that I embarked upon before was nowhere to be seen.
So of course yesterday, when I got an email from the studio asking if I wanted to volunteer in exchange of free classes, I felt both, ecstatic and apprehensive. See, my inner critic was screaming “You can’t possibly volunteer for the studio, you have lost all endurance, your muscles have lost their memory, and you are off the- for the lack of a better term – ‘spiritual’path you once were on.” I must admit these past months have been far away from the quinoa-eating-physically-active-enlightened ideal. In fact they’ve been filled with drinks, all kinds of cheeses, a newly discovered obsession with sweets, and lots of Netflix . But why was I ready to limit myself, rather than allow myself to grow and resume an activity that was so dear to me?
My younger self may have replied “Thank you but no thank you”, as she did not know any better than to succumb to fear. But here I was, at an age where everything that once fazed me stopped scaring me – dates, interviews, new jobs, love, people, crowds, novelty. Having spent the last years of my life going past my own limits and breaking preconceptions, why am I considering holding myself back? I remember last year what an old Cyprian woman, wife of the theatre director I was working for, told me. She was 86 years old and rather frail. While walking down the street she fell and fractured her wrist and broke a leg. I remember looking at her with sadness during the course of the play. I wanted her to so badly to get better, but something in me feared that she was at an age where “everything will be okay” may not apply. The play ended, and close to a year went by. I went to the theatre to say hello, and there she was, walking towards me without a cane. I felt so happy for her, and I congratulated her on her remission. Right then and there she told me: “The Doctor thought it was only downhill from here, but I knew it wasn’t. The entire time I worked so hard to not give up on myself. That is one thing you must always remember – To never give up on yourself”. “Never give up on yourself”, now a sentence that comes to my mind every time I’m tempted to.