Yoga outside the postures: True Story / by Anita Cheung

So I know I talk a lot about "Yoga outside the postures" on this blog and it can sound like one of those things that fits in with all of the other motivational quotes we see all over Facebook and Instagram. You know, nice to think about, but much too hard to put into practice. Recently, I've had the opportunity to practice what I preach and I just wanted to share that experience here.

Some backstory:I was always that girl in elementary school that had her eyes on boys and was just a little bit love-crazy. I think my first crush was at the age of 6 and I never really looked back after that.  At age 13, I was in one serious relationship and after getting out of that one, I was on to the next. I guess you can say I was a serial monogamist. In both of these relationships, I often felt myself overcome with what I like to call the green eyed monster. You know, the one that lurks in dark corners and jumps out at every miscommunication, delayed text message response, flirty banter between your SO and his or her friend of the opposite sex? The one that takes over a perfectly nice girl and turns her into a meaning-making, story-constructing, jealous psycho. I had no reason to mistrust either of these men, but you know what they say- when you go digging for shit, you'll find it. At the time, I felt perfectly entitled to these feelings. In hindsight, I couldn't be more ashamed. 

Fast forward to the last year in which I was in a long distance relationship with a man literally on the other side of the world. I will be the first to admit (now) that I was not exactly the best version of myself nor was I treating my SO with the kindness and respect I knew I was capable of. I was going through some things at the time (no excuse, i know), he didn't know quite how to deal with it all, and the possibility of miscommunication is rife when your only means of connection is via text messages and the occasional skype session. However, one major difference this time around was that the green eyed monster didn't rear its ugly head quite as often. Perhaps I had grown up or perhaps I had found someone I finally trusted.

Fast forward again to the last two weeks. Long distance SO and I have since ended our relationship and were maintaing a haphazard friendship. I flew to him for a visit and a few days after arriving, I mistakenly came across a suspicious text message conversation between him and another gal at a time when we were still together. I never, ever, would have thought that this man would be the one that actually betrayed my trust. He was the last person in the world that I would have thought could "do this to me". Fully possessed by the green eyed monster at this point, I began to dig for shit. And like I said before, when you dig, you'll find it and it'll stink. And boy, this shit stank.

So at this point, you're probably thinking- nice sob story Anita but where does Yoga come in? Well, what they say about Yoga is true. We practice when we don't need to, so that when we do, it will come to us as second nature. As Rolf Gates describes in his book, "Our practice is a shelter we build for our spiritual selves. The winds of life constantly wear away at this shelter, but if we stick to our tools, the shelter will hold." In this case, I am grateful for my practice as, amidst the flurry of emotions,  it allowed me a moment of clarity and consciousness without the green eyed monster, and helped me realize just how insane I was acting. I was on holiday and yes I could let this new information ruin the trip; alternatively, I could make the conscious decision to enjoy what little time I had in the country. 

And the more I made the decision to be okay with it, the more okay with it I became. And here is the juicy bit of this post. In addition to simply being mindful and aware of my thought patterns, I strived to look for the similarity, rather than the differences between the two of us. You know how they say yoga is union? We're all connected? I began to understand that he didn't do it "to me". He wasn't thinking, at that time, "oh, this will hurt her!". He was simply human. And from one human to another, I was able to understand that the relationship was already going down the gutter when it all happened. Humans make mistakes and humans can be selfish. It was then that I decided to let it go. After all, what good would it be for both of us for me to badger him about something that wasn't even relevant in the present? 

I wish I could say that this story ended with sunshines and butterflies and a fresh start. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I was able to practice another much touted aspect of yoga- the idea of letting go. If this were a movie, the guy and gal would realize they were truly meant for one another and get back together. As much as I wanted this and as much as I wanted to say to him. "Look! I'm a real yogi now! Things are different!" and prove to him that I was in a better headspace, I let go. From one human to another, I could see how he was hesitant to get back into a sticky situation. From one human to another, I could respect that sometimes things truly are out of our control- especially when it involves another person's love and life. We are often misled to believe that we have control over our lives. We even go so far as to develop a system and an order for everything to give us the illusion of control. At the end of it all, we are susceptible to the earth and its beings around us and to the universe surrounding us. And sometimes, we truly do just need to surrender, let go, and be comfortable with uncertainty. 



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