Saturday 17 October 2020

Why I always come back to yoga

I first fell in love with yoga during a Hawaiian vacation in the spring of 2015. For the first two years, I practiced almost every day, falling in love with the practice, my body, and my mind. I especially loved practicing on our front lawn, which I could do almost year-round due to the mild winters we had in the Lower Mainland. 

The dogs were always around me. I watched the gangs of young ducks, upside down from between my legs in downward-facing-dog, growing from young, flighty ducklings into self-assured, boisterous teenagers, unimpressed by the dogs or bigger birds. 
Our group of peacocks would do their own stretches in the morning sun, my faithful companions every time I rolled my mat out. 

The grass was green and soft even in the middle of winter. 
Our evergreen trees held their protective arms above me every day of the year. 
It was a magical, very special place to do yoga. 
It was what churches were built for: a sacred place to connect with a power bigger than us. I deeply loved that space.

During the hottest summer months, I mostly retreated to my second sacred place on our farm: our willow tree by the pond. From there, I would observe the swans, geese and ducks do their tranquil rounds on the still water, a soft breeze rustling the leaves of the majestic, protective willow tree. 

And then we moved. And in many - most! - ways, all my dreams came true. We found a community. I fell back in love with my job again. I fulfilled my biggest, wildest dream and wrote and published two books

Throughout it all, I tried to keep my yoga practice up. 
But there was no soft, green grass here. No wise trees I could roll my mat out underneath.
The terrain was steep, dry, and rocky. The snow came in November and didn't leave until February or March. 
Of course, I had my cozy, beautiful home. 

And I started my practice there right away. (You can still see the old wall colour! I repainted 6 months after we moved in.)

But it didn't feel right. And little by little, I started to abandon my practice. 
We built a LOT of stuff during our first year. We built barns, chicken coops, sheepy hollow, aviaries, and strengthened all our fences. I had started at a new job, worked on my first book, and we still drove back to our old home a lot to visit family and friends. It was easy to put yoga on the back burner. 

Then Rich got sick. It drove everything out of my mind. For months I saw my formerly strong, confident husband wither away, and I was besides myself with worry. The last thing I thought about was any kind of exercise or spiritual practice. 

Once we found a treatment that worked and he got better, things happened fast:  
- we started building my She Shed
- I accepted a job that would take me away from home half the time for an entire year
- we had a LOT of overnight guests for 2 years
- Covid arrived
In between I dealt with some pretty severe PMDD, my usual depression - and something else

Something that didn't become clear to me until I restarted my yoga practice last month. 

I needed to grieve. 

My previous yoga practice was intrinsically connected to our old home. As much as I loved our new home, a part of myself grieved for the loss of the year-round soft grass, the tranquillity of the willow tree, and the peacocks, ducks and geese as my yoga partners. 

I didn't want to see it, though. Everything needed to be amazing about our new home, okay?? Because we would never go back. So I desperately needed everything to be great.  And instead of facing the changes that my yoga practice would have to undergo, it was easier to just abandon it altogether. Avoidance is an old favourite of all of us who struggle with too many feelings, isn't it?

Well, my body had other ideas. It's been protesting loudly against me abandoning my practice for the last 2 years. I've been having breathing issues that I've never had before; I've gained weight; I've lost strength; and most importantly, I've started to not recognize my body anymore.

It was time to face my demons. 

I had to acknowledge and honour my feelings about our old home: my first spiritual yoga home. 
I had to acknowledge that this home was gone; and that all my sad feelings about it were justified and okay

I had been taught that yoga is not about the location, but the internal world. Some of the yoga teachers I followed would practice in their hotel room's bathroom if they were away, because that was the only room that didn't have carpet, and say that was totally okay. 

For me, it wouldn't be. I like to look at nature when I practice; that's half the pleasure for me. 
So over the last few weeks, I've established a new, maybe less Instagrammable, but sustainable for my new life practice.  

I need yoga in my life. It's the only way how I truly feel like myself. I need a deep connection between my body, mind and soul, and the disconnect I've been experiencing over the last couple of years is evident in everything I do right now. 

Over the last few weeks I've been doing one of the hundred's of Kinoyoga's videos almost every day. 
It feels SO GOOD. 
She has been my first inspiration, and after some time away, she is still the teacher I love and admire the most. 
I'm into practices that strengthen your arms, shoulders and core, and she offers plenty of those. Kino is also incredibly flexible, which is very inspiring to me. 

Before I leave, I'll share the 3 videos of hers I've practiced the most lately - they are all challenging, but amazing!! I feel better than I have in months. 

This one is hard-core for your abs and shoulders:

This is the only 1-hour video I've done, it's good:

Here's a solid, not-too-hard, but still challenging 20-minute one:

And here is a very good 30-minute video:

These are just 4 out of 100s, maybe more, free videos on YouTube. I love Kino MacGregor; she's the only one I consider to be my yoga teacher. 

One of the things that helped me overcome the loss of my first sacred space of yoga is that she is teaching from all over the world. Her videos have been shot everywhere from Miami, where she is based, to Hong Kong, Hawaii, every country in Europe, to Mysore, her spiritual home in India.

I've learnt to embrace practicing on our deck; the living room; or my She Shed's porch. Over the last few weeks I've learnt to appreciate the magic of this place: the hummingbirds (and wasps, less magical, but just as real) flying over me while I'm doing my practice on our deck; having Dixie and Lily trip over me while I'm on my mat in the living room; and having to adjust to the narrow layout of my porch on the She Shed. It's different, but it's in no way less magical. 

I can't tell you how much it means to me to that I've found my way back to this incredible, life-affirming practice. 
Yoga was the last piece that was missing. 
I have only now truly, fully come home.  


  1. Wonderful, Miriam! I am so happy for you. Loving the new format - feels fresh and updated and best of all, approachable. Blessings for you and Rich on this divine Thursday.

    1. Thank you Elaine!
      I'm more grateful than I can express with words for getting older and learning some patience and wisdom. I finally understand that life is like the ocean, it ebbs and flows... and that we can start over whenever we want. It's the best gift so far - and probably ever - of aging.


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