A part of what makes yoga so enriching, and challenging, is that every inch of the body and mind is engaged. Our practice is improved by the smallest shifts and alignments. When I had my first yoga class in high school, I was constantly being adjusted by the teacher—which, in turn, made me self-conscious and sometimes even bitter. I was incapable of recognizing what I was doing wrong and how to improve. I was embarrassed easily and compared myself to other bodies and minds around me.
Off my yoga mat, I was similarly sensitive. As a teenager, my awkwardness lingered longer than most. In my junior year of high school, I stopped wearing shorts because a girl pointed out my thick thighs as a “problem area.” In my first year of college, I stumbled upon a friend’s blog with a recent entry revealing a numbered list of my deepest flaws to the Internet: I was needy, I was insecure, I was sensitive. And she was right. For years, I felt unaccountable for my unhappiness. I followed rainstorms and wondered why I was always chilled. Instead of taking the time to look at my attitude and my actions objectively, I blamed other people and circumstances. I depended on people I didn’t love. I didn’t listen. My blurred vision of who I was hindered my growth and my happiness. As I peeled back the layers of myself, I was only left with a small, fragile seed—so I decided to plant it and regrow.
The years that followed were made up of busy airports and empty hiking trails, a twisted stomach from anxiety, and crumpled maps I read like children’s books. Stretching out my roots and bursting through the soil from that tiny seed was painful. Each adjustment and positive change I made to myself was only met with another challenge. I learned to talk less only to discover I still wasn’t sincerely listening. I made an effort to smile at strangers, but took it personally when they didn’t smile back. I was frustrated and exhausted with my slow progress; but I learned my weaknesses could also become my strengths. My sensitivity was an outlet for compassion, kindness, and understanding. Recognizing what I needed to fix in myself allowed me to find happiness and to love the person I was, and am, growing into. With this new light inside of me, my body became stronger. My thick thighs pushed me up mountains and rocketed me across dirt roads on a bike; my arms pulled me up jagged rocks and the branches of magnificent oak trees.
Back on my purple yoga mat, on damp grass or a cool studio floor, I give myself the gift of time and forgiveness. I still lose my balance, sometimes toppling to the ground over twisted limbs. I still need to adjust my feet and my hands and my breath constantly—and that’s okay. I am sturdier than I was yesterday, and someday I might have roots planted deep into the earth with branches that cradle the clouds. For now, I’m still clumsy and breakable, a perpetual work-in-progress, often succumbing to my ego. I have so far to go, but I’m grateful to be able to change. I’m so grateful for growth.
by - Patience Hurlburt-Lawton
Patience is a 24-year-old writer from Salisbury, Vermont. She is a lover of many things, including the outdoors, animals, and all forms of creative expression. She has been apart of our KYD community for several months, and it is always a joy to see her roll out her mat and join us in class!