guest post by Lorena Parsons
Yoga has become such an integral part of my day to day life, I sometimes feel like I eat, sleep and dream yoga (if that is even possible). Imagining my life without yoga would be like living without sunlight. How would you survive?
But I didn’t always feel that way. In 2008, I was living in the East Bay of San Francisco. My new husband, Joe, and I thought it would be good to try new things together. Considering we had dated for less than four months before getting married, this goal was easy to accomplish. Joe picked a Yoga class to improve his flexibility and I chose a Latin Dance class because I love to move!
Joe wasn’t crazy about Latin Dance but we never had a problem practicing yoga together. At night our 500 square foot cottage became a makeshift studio, both of us trying to recall the flow from last week’s class. At the end of the semester, it was clear we would never be the couple that owned the dance floor but we were more flexible, better connected to our bodies and our relationship had blossomed to a deeper love and respect.
Then we moved to Germany for three years. I found myself wishing I could go to a yoga class but couldn’t find one. I settled for countless miles on the treadmill, shooting hoops and the occasional Zumba class.
Like any married couple, our relationship had its highs and lows in the those three years. We traveled. We laughed. We fought. We made up. We lived. We loved.
Joe got out of the military in 2011 and we entered a whole new stage of our lives. I would go to work 40 hours a week to pay the bills and Joe would go to school full time to earn his degree.
I tried to balance work and play. I wanted to make enough time for family and our many friends now that we were back in my hometown, San Diego. But I never seemed to have any time for me. I felt like I was letting people down if I chose to go to the gym instead of spending time with them.
Joe and I struggled with our new roles, both of us a little lost and unhappy. Our relationship began to suffer. The love, respect and connection we once had got lost somewhere along the way. We had fooled our friends and family into thinking the pictures we posted on Facebook were real, all smiles and good times.
I felt miserable, unhappy, empty and certain that my marriage was destined to end.
Joe went to yoga. I went to therapy. Joe asked me to go a yoga class. I declined and went to Zumba instead. Joe asked me to go to yoga class again. I was too tired. Joe asked me a third time to go to Yoga class, so I humored him and went.
I walked into a 24 Hour Fitness on Feb 18, 2013 not knowing what to expect. Some of the poses looked and felt familiar, but I struggled to maintain any sort of controlled breath. I remember waking up the next day and everything hurt! I later learned that I had taken a Power Flow class and boy, what a way to get reacquainted with yoga!
The next time there was a class, I opted to go with Joe. The second time I didn’t feel nearly as awkward, but I was still sore the next day for sure.
What kept me going back to my mat that first month was observing Joe. He was so content after going to yoga, even when our relationship was on the verge of crumbling. I wanted to feel that contentment, even if it was short-lived. I wanted to feel anything, if it meant continuing to practice yoga, so be it.
Yoga became part of my weekly routine, once during the week and once on the weekend. I felt myself become stronger. I felt myself becoming more flexible.
Finally it happened, one evening in just as I was coming out of Savasana. As I lay in fetal position, my palm touching the earth, the teacher’s words seemed to resonate deep inside of me:
“Lay here with gratitude in your heart. Gratitude for the earth underneath you as it supports you, feel connected to it.” I felt the topsy-turvy feeling of butterflies in my stomach.
“Gratitude towards yourself, you have made the choice to honor yourself and your practice.” I felt my throat constrict and it felt hard to breath.
“Remember that you are perfect as you are now, at this very moment.”
I felt a rush run through me, as warm, salty tears slid down my cheeks. I was silently weeping. These were not tears of frustration or tears of sadness. They were tears of gratitude and joy and love.
My relationship with Joe started to transform, we went to classes and workshops together. We planned our weekly schedules, meals and outings around our yoga classes. In June, I told Joe I wanted to take a Yoga Teacher Training. He was very supportive and told me to do what made me happy.
Working downtown, I had seen the Yoga One sign when I went to lunch or a coffee run for the office but I had never been to class. On July 25th, I went to Angela’s Thursday 6pm Vinyasa Flow and it was one of the most challenging classes I had experienced outside a workshop, everything was so alignment-based. I went home physically exhausted but filled with so much energy and love I couldn’t wait to share it all with Joe.
Yoga One’s monthly newsletter included information about their upcoming Yoga Teacher Training starting in January 2014 and the next day I signed up. Looking back now, it might seem crazy that I was ready to commit after just one class – but Yoga One immediately felt like home to me.
I am very grateful for how supportive Joe was during the eight weeks of teacher training. We hardly saw each other yet it felt like we were closer. We learned how to communicate effectively, to be considerate of each other’s feelings and how to truly love. Joe was not just my partner to practice teaching, he became my best friend and the partner I needed in our marriage. I truly believe yoga healed my heart.
Yoga will continue to be an intricate part of our lives as individuals and a married couple. Whether we attend classes together or practice separately, we are yogis and damn proud of it! I am thankful for every experience I’ve had so far and I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.
Lorena’s desire for movement and deeper connection to her body has kept the flames of a fiery passion for yoga alive. Lorena hopes to blend her love for teaching yoga with the creativity of her freelance make up artistry. Lorena’s greatest joy is to be a witness for the ah-ha moment to those who allow her to enhance their lives.