Have we ever told anyone the story of how we met? I can’t remember; we’ve known each other so long, I don’t really think about our early days together very much. Our early relationship was a bit of a dirty little secret for me, if I’m going to be honest with you. I had this idea that you were only right as a social activity for middle-aged mums and a religious activity for Zen masters in India, or for strong, beautiful, outrageously flexible young women wearing size 6 yoga pants. You couldn’t possibly be a match for a stressed-out, high-achieving student who couldn’t seem to get a handle on her anxiety.
Yeah, yeah, laugh it up. I was young and stupid, okay?
But all teasing aside, I am utterly, utterly serious when I say that I would not have made it through the last two years without you. The everyday pressures of senior high school are heavy enough without adding in my perfectionist tendencies and the ticking clock counting down the days until you have to make a decision about what you’re doing with your life and become an adult. Without you, yoga, I would have crashed halfway through my first round of exams in Year 11 and then kept on crashing, and I don’t think I would have ever fully recovered.
When I’m with you, the world disappears. You give me express permission to focus only on my breathing, on the ache in my hamstrings, the burn in my quads; something nothing else can do, not even me. You are my bodyguard, keeping out thoughts of exams and essays and unfinished homework until I am strong enough to allow them back in. My hour with you each week is what keeps me healthy, what keeps me happy and what helps me to remember to love learning in those times when I would rather scrub the toilet than write my essay. (I have genuinely made this choice before.) You keep me sane.
So thank you, yoga, from the bottom of my anxious little heart. Thank you for keeping me on my feet when all I wanted was to give up, thank you for staving off numerous meltdowns, and thank you for teaching me to love myself.
An Imperfect Person
P.S. I’m somewhat sheepish as I write this, knowing I haven’t seen you for a few months, but part of the reason I’m writing you this letter is to make plans to meet up with you again now that school’s back in. I’ve got a hell of a ride ahead of me this year, and I’m going to need you with me to make it through in one piece.
Photo by Patrick Hendry