ON NEW YEAR’S DAY, I opened a dusty journal. The last entry was dated two years prior: January 1, 2016.
I’d branded different sections: Love. Work. Health. Under each, I listed my desires for those parts of my life. The dreams I’d described under “Love” were honest. My desires for work were filled with sky-high expectations. Much of what I wanted to accomplish that year was beyond my control.
I’d opened this journal to do a similar exercise, but before I put pen to paper, my brain rolled through the timeline of what I’d experienced in the past two years— everything that had led me here, to this place where, for the first time, I feel like the most real version of me. We’ll get back to this, but first, a little background.
I was just a kid when I started yoga. By the time I finished college, my practice had evolved into fullblown devotion. On any given afternoon, you could find me Sun Saluting in the Ashtanga room between teaching classes. I was a junkie for the practice, and I threw myself so deeply into it that I eventually burned out and suffered multiple injuries.
My passion was gone. Aside from dynamic moments of connection with my students, I felt numb. So I altered my path. I took a break from my practice, explored some of the lessons it had revealed, and came back feeling more in tune to my voice and who I was.
My love story is quite parallel. I was a young woman who desperately wanted love. Because of that, I found myself caught in a pattern: meet handsome person who shows me kindness, fall madly in love, paint perfect future together, then quickly watch my projected dreams crumble. Rinse and repeat. Each time, I survived off the leftover breadcrumbs of affection.
After one particularly bad cycle, I met a man who was the complete opposite of anyone I’d dated. He checked few of the boxes I had traditionally looked for in a partner, but I convinced myself this was genius. After all, the partners I’d chosen before had failed me. I told myself I had finally matured, evolved, and now understood what a real relationship was. Love and marriage isn’t a fairy tale—it’s a union between two adults who want to share a foundation, I thought. So I let go of my belief in magical romance, convinced I was emotionally evolving.
The truth is, the passion wasn’t there. But, hey, longterm passion isn’t real, right? Sure, our aspirations were polar opposites, but he was the yang to my yin! And during our first year of marriage, I kept telling myself something I’d often heard: “Well, they do say the first year of marriage is the hardest…”
The realization that I wasn’t happy hit me a mere year into my marriage, after I met someone who totally flipped my world upside down. This person made me take a long, hard look at myself and the relationship I had grown numb in. Growing up, I had loved the story of Snow White—the idea that true love’s kiss could pull someone back from even the deepest slumber. I had buried that story, and I wanted it back. So I closed my eyes and let myself fall off that precipice. And when I landed, I didn’t fall into pieces—I fell into me. I filed for divorce. I experienced the most challenging year of my life while falling in love in a way I had only dreamed of.
And this is where yoga comes back into play. Yoga has resuscitated me, again and again. I have broken my body only to recover through mindful diligence. I have lost my passion only to step back and reassess what truly mattered to me. I have let go of what I imagined other people wanted to see in me to discover what I wanted from—and for—myself. I allowed myself to choose what felt right without fear of rejection.
I closed my journal, freshly inscribed with my newest intentions, and took a sip of my coffee, pondering what I’d write next—what else I want this next year to hold. Then I looked at the amazing woman sitting next to me, doing the same, and smiled.