Not the dainty, sweet kind of crying people do in movies, with one perfect and lovely little tear rolling down my cheek… but ugly, chin quivering, nose snotting all over the place with no where to wipe it crying. It was the last day of my 15-day, 12-hour-a-day yoga retreat that wrapped up my RYT training. I was mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted; my injured shoulder – which had hung in there quite admirably for two weeks – had just given out again; and I was sitting in a ball, wrapped up in my vinyasa scarf, missing my last two classmates’ final teaches (one of which included an all-out dance party). They were tears of fatigue and pain to be sure, but tears of relief and emotion and overwhelm as well.
But I guess I should go back to the beginning.
Two weeks earlier, I was sitting in that same studio for the first time … nervous, excited, and not knowing what to expect. I mean, I knew I would learn a lot about yoga (although, how much I learned still caught me by surprise. A few highlights that still stand out: 1) The day we learned how to properly set our feet down “with intention” 2) The several hours we spent breaking down each posture … Mountain Pose, a pose that looks like a simple standing pose? So. Much. More. than simply standing when done correctly. 3) A five-hour hands-on anatomy workshop with a yoga therapist that absolutely blew my mind. BLEW MY MIND.)
But we weren’t really talking about the physical practice of yoga that first morning. We were talking about a spiritual journey, specifically the journey that we were about to embark on, together.
“If you don’t cry at least once in this room, you must be an Android.” My teacher’s words were bold, but as it turns out, true. Starting from that very first day, there were tears everywhere, from everyone. Everyone except me. I was the Android. While it’s a small feat for me to have tears spring forth over something silly like a commercial, or a song, or a Disney movie… tears that are born from growing and sharing and honest-to-God emotions make me seven kinds of uneasy. I never know how to handle a crying peer, I’m not the first one to offer a hug (hugs tend to make me uneasy too), and even attempts to speak are awkward, at best.
But then – whether I’d actually intended to or not – I did take that journey. I did grow. I did open up. I did learn. And so help me, when I was getting prayed over before my final teach (and touched by 12 people I might add) and one of my teachers was rubbing my back, it was actually kind of nice. That was day 14, and while I’d still yet to shed a tear on my mat, my cold, dead robot heart had surely softened a little bit around the edges.
And Day 15…. what can I say? It had all caught up with me. I was blubbering with the best of them. It had been 15 days of learning, of growth, and of self-discovery. 15 days of trying not to stuff pain and emotion and utter exhaustion. 15 days of new friendships, raucous laughter, and real discussion. 15 days of connection with God, connection with peace, and connection with stillness. It had all culminated right there in that moment on my mat, with an intensity that quite literally took my breath away. Life-changing. There’s no other way to describe it.
As for what I took away from those two weeks? I have books and binders and notebooks filled with yoga information, so much so that I decided mid-way through that I needed to stop trying to digest all at once but instead take it piece by piece, giving myself permission to take time to absorb and practice and study at my own pace once I got back to the “real world.” One of my very favorite things about yoga is that it is a lifelong practice… you’re never done improving, and you’re never done learning. There’s no rush either. I can rest, right here and right now, and just be, exactly where I am in my journey, both in yoga and in life.
What I’ll most remember though is not the physical aspect of yoga, but the spiritual, and the fact that that two weeks helped me “get it” for the first time in my life.
I might always be uncomfortable with crying. I might never be the most “huggy” person in the room. But maybe, just maybe, I’m not an Android after all.