I have always been interested in yoga as a concept. The spirituality. The letting go and giving in to your breathe. The health benefits. The mat with a lotus on it. The Lululemon. In my mind, contorting one’s self into a pretzel seemed to denote some sort of status. “My name is Dorianne Van Dyke and I do yoga” would serve as code for “I am someone with a slightly curated Instagram that enjoys Diptyque candles and oat milk”. In essence, yoga would make me a millenial with “their life together”.
Yoga, in practice, was another thing entirely. First and foremost, I AM NOT FLEXIBLE. Touching my toes is an act of pure torture and if ever there were a reminder of my body/flesh prison slowly aging, it is my pitiful attempt at shifting into extended triangle pose. I have all the elegance of Sandra Bullock when she first attempts to walk in heels in “Miss Congeniality”. She is beauty and she is grace. She is Miss United States. Secondly, I loathe mental discomfort almost more than physical. Bobbling around in tree pose, in my head I keep asking “it is over?” As if hearing my inner my thoughts, the instructor always replies with “hold it”. Every second feels like an hour. Some people are better at relaxing and being in the moment. I am not one of those people. Last but certainly not least, I tend to lose interest in things that I am naturally not good at. If it doesn’t come easy, it likely isn’t going to come at all. I count failed attempts at learning how to ice skate and how to play the piano amongst the many things that immediately discouraged me. I have plenty of things I can’t do: I don’t need to be reminded of it in my spare time.
So why then did I decide to start practicing yoga during the quarantine?
To be present.
Coronavirus has created a state of constant uncertainty. If you are anything like me, you operate best with facts. Since the beginning of shelter in place orders, I have stated again and again that I would feel more relaxed if I just knew when everything would be over. When we would have a treatment. When we would have a vaccine. Several months later, we are no closer to answering these questions and I wasn’t getting any more zen. In fact, my anxiousness was increasing and my patience was almost non-existent.
Throwing a yoga mat down has brought me a sense of peace that I never imagined. In those moments where I am holding poses that I once found awful, I am present with my mind and body. I have no option but to breathe and let go of the lingering thoughts that have been traveling through my mind a million miles a minute. There might be some who are better mental multitaskers but I find it impossible to balance on one foot while also worrying about my taxes, when my office is reopening and who is going to win RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars. Nope. All of my attention must be focused on not doing my best little teapot imitation. It is a reassuring and calming feeling. I have also taken to repeating mantras. Saying a short phrase over and over assists in grounding me in the now.
Yoga always had the ability to bring me the calmness and ability to cease my need to control that it had delivered to so many before me. It just took a global pandemic for me to allow it.