Q: How does stretching effect us emotionally?

apparently hip-openers are quite the release.

I don’t know, but I definitely cried in yoga class last week.

After taking a month off from life to get married, go on a honeymoon and spend time with my husband at home before he headed back to his temporary home in Japan, I finally made it back to the yoga studio.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t call myself a yogi and I definitely spend more time at local breweries than I do at the gym, but a month was still a long time to abandon my physical health (unless you consider a walk around Busch stadium to get a hot dog or taking my pup for a walk to the park.)

Over the course of July 2017, I think the most I’d stretched was to reach my bag from the overhead compartment on the plane to and from Miami. Sounds great, right?

When coming down from the high of a vacation, I often find myself reflecting and appreciating. Typically looking for a feeling of enlightenment over my time off. I always want to believe it wasn’t all in vain, and I wasn’t just indulging in the pleasures of contributing nothing to the world.

When that enlightenment didn’t come to me on my last day off — my day of getting my life back in order — checking email, doing the laundry, revisiting the idea of a budget… I think it subconsciously, but temporarily broke me.

Somehow, during that last day off, I set a goal which I’d actually follow-through. That goal was to get my ass to power yoga three times over the next week, starting on Monday.

The first thing that I always remind myself when taking a yoga class is to let go of all expectations. So, I dismissed the voice in my head saying “this is going to be shitty” / “you’re going to hate yourself halfway through” / “there’s not a lot of people in this class, so maybe it’ll be not so bad for once”, etc. Side note: I promise I do actually love these power yoga classes.

Through the ebbs and flows of this class — the excited teacher asking my what it is that I want to accomplish during this session, the encouraging smiles every time I accidentally made eye contact with her, the playlist that included some mixture of Tycho and LCD Soundsystem, taking part of the peak pose— I was in a really great place the entire time. And I didn’t even know it.

When we were finally instructed to lay on our backs in savasana, then to come to seated pose with our hands in prayer position, I came to the realization that I’m so unbelievably grateful. Every emotion washed over me — longing for my husband, fortunate for such a fantastic job and coworkers, admiration for my family, awe at such a beautiful world, pride in my body.

I know most yoga teachers would not advocate for this, but this is my yoga. And my yoga is emotional because it forces me to be alone with my thoughts, while simultaneously in wheel pose. Sure, I focus on my breath and the good burn in my thighs (occasionally) but I mostly just focus on myself and my place in the world. And most times, that realization is so beautiful that it makes me an emotional wreck.

And sometimes, I guess it makes me actually tremble and weep. And sometimes that’s just as refreshing as a good stretch.

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