Reflection

Yoga Journal - - Contents - By Kathryn Budig Kathryn Budig is a yoga teacher, author, and founder of Aim True Yoga. Learn more at kathryn­budig.com

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.

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