My relationship with exercise has always been complicated. The math of calories in and out consumed me in an unhealthy way. When I made the decision to practice yoga, it was with a view to the spiritual benefits even more than the physical ones. I needed more than churn and burn. I needed an ignition source. I needed depth. I needed connection. I needed peace. I needed warmth.
It was in search of these things that I stumbled across Iron Lotus Yoga in Mission, BC. I have happy memories of growing up in the sunny Okanagan Valley, so I selected a hot yoga class initially. I began my practice in a physically warm environment in hopes of igniting emotional warmth I was missing in my life. I had been going through the motions for so long, I was desperately seeking meaning.
The air temperature brought me back to my happy place and soothed me. I was feeling geographically isolated and I really needed to find “my” people. I had felt like a misfit and in approaching this community, I hoped I could find friends among people who loved yoga pants as much as I do.
The gentle, strong voice of the instructor focused me on the qualities I was hoping to cultivate in myself. I needed to be a graceful, bending willow, strong but yielding, to adapt to changes in my life. The mantras and meditation connected the dots in my life outside the studio, tying things off in a tidy bow so I could experience some rare moments of clarity amid the chaos.
My bare feet on the mat grounded me. I felt like my body had connected to something finally. Dysmorphia meant I could never quite see myself clearly, but I could feel where my body ended and connected with the cool floor. I could feel my breath. I could feel peace, lying motionless on the floor save the undulations of my chest and my belly as the air rolled in and out like soft waves.
There are few experiences more peaceful than stretching physically, spiritually and emotionally in unison. While the exercises strengthen the muscles, it is the fortification of the other pieces that I craved most. Yoga is the process of bending without breaking and seeing yourself clearly with your eyes closed. On a borrowed mat, clad in just shorts and a tank top, I felt fully clothed in strength. Emerging from the depths of depression, I was a true Iron Lotus.
Written by: Allison