Dear Yoga, Thank You.

Nicole Markardt
Dear Yoga, Thank You.

As I rolled out my mat on a rainy November day, I couldn’t help but feel overcome with gratitude for my practice. Sure, there may be a bit of selfishness in that, since my journey began with my motivation primarily being to improve my own health.

It turns out that this journey has changed my perspective. Yoga means something different for everyone. Here is how this practice has expanded my heart to make space for growth beyond who I thought I was. I bow to the vitality, unity, and revolution that this practice has ignited in my wild heart.

Let Me Start With...

Thank you for helping me let go of a difficult day by reminding me that by simply breathing consciously, I become lighter.

Thank you for helping me understand the physical feeling of holding on; struggling to elongate an exhalation—as if something else holds space in my chest, something old that has grown comfortable and that if released knows it will no longer have life. It holds on.

Thank you for allowing me to notice when I cannot let something new into my life, as on those days, my inhalations are shallow and weak. I’m not creating space for evolution, for a new and fresh life force to show up for me. I’m resisting its promise as doubt shows up with each attempt.

Thank you for the therapy session inside of a 90-minute practice, leaving me with an empty mind and full heart with a side of clarity... Even if only for a time.

Thank you for the laughs, for the hilarious fart stories, for reminding me just when I am taking it all so seriously, for letting me fall flat on my ass so that I remember that it’s all just funny sometimes.

I’m Thankful for...

Thank you for headstands and inversions, which help me not only see a new perspective, but develop a strong core. Perspective isn’t meant to be fixed. We would suffocate in the stagnant air of a fixed belief system. Just as if we don’t develop our core, if our foundation becomes weak, we will fall hard.

Thank you for balancing postures which remind me that balance cannot be taught or learned. I can now surrender to the wisdom that it changes daily. Some days we are solid oak trees in a windstorm, and others, the slightest breeze will blow us over and we will snap like a twig.

Thank you for the poses that still elude me, frustrate me, and seem impossible for they reveal that there’s more. More growth, more achievement, and more expansion await once I learn to detach and gently accept that some of these poses may never be meant for me at all.

Thank you for discomfort and for the wisdom to not run from it. The quickening of my heartbeat is a signal that I’m growing stronger, working toward building strength, and becoming more resilient. Without discomfort, there is no threshold and no boundaries to set.

I’m Grateful for....

Thank you to the heart openers, like Cobra, Bow, and Camel for helping me grow past a safe vulnerability and exposing my heart; as it invites compassion to occupy more space inside of it.

Thank you to the hip openers, like Pigeon, Malasana, and Lizard for helping me to release stress and trauma which have carefully hidden in and around the corners of my pelvis.

Thank you for allowing me to fully connect to my breath—expelling fear and allowing for unity of mind, body, and soul. This connection helps me align these channels and cause release within my being.

Thank you for helping me to love a strong body and know what strength feels like as I honor it whenever I find it on my mat, for giving spark to this craving that now lives inside of me to move my body in this capacity, because it this brings healing.

Thank you for your power in helping me break through, as I go deeper and deeper into my own physical body, into my emotional landscape and clear it all out.

Still, More Gratitude

Thank you for the days when I just don’t want to get off of the couch the days when I’m healing or hurting and my ego wants to make excuses to sit with my pain.

Thank you for the days when I go anyway and my body feels tired, but I just need to hear my own breath. I need to think about why I’m here and breathing, listening to the life force which awakens my soul to the precious gift of life.

Thank you for the days when hearing others breathing with me serves as a reminder that I’m never alone. They, too, breathe and struggle and heal. We’re all trying.

Thank you for allowing me to be gentler with myself, more empathic, and for the ancient traditions which I’ve learned to embrace as a lifestyle until nothing is separate and everything becomes the yoga of living.

“Practice and all is coming.” - Sri K. Patthabi Jois