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The Mat

Take it to the mat has a double meaning for me! First of all, if you look at the phrase it really is inferring a battle. Battle to a loss or battle to a gain? One step forward or one step back? Victory or defeat?

I guess it depends on how you look at it. It’s all about perspective. I was on my elliptical today and the song, “Hips Don’t Lie” came on. Let me tell you. Mine have lied! They have lied to me by telling me to lose hope. They have lied to me by telling me that my body is decrepit. They have lied by yelling, “throw in the towel!” And they have told me that I need to give up.

Even recently, I have listened to them many times. But I also know that I can find the truth on my mat and I can win with that truth. My first huge “ah ha” moment of my mat’s connection to success, hope, forward movement occurred about two weeks before my first revision hip surgery almost 20 months ago. I was wound up as tight as a clock. Anxiety. Dread. Fear. I was pre-habbing with my personal trainer, Jeremy. He could see the tension and his one simple suggestion to do mat work that day moved me towards that “ah ha” moment.

At that point, I had been practicing yoga for over 10 years. And the biggest light bulb moment I had about the value of my yoga practice “off the mat” came while I was not even practicing yoga. With all of the deadlifts, squats, crunches, and core work, I was in a good spot physically. The mental outlook was a bit more challenging, but things clicked. I was able to visualize the calmness and peacefulness of my mat when I felt anxious and I was able to grab that feeling even off my mat. I was able to use that amazing skill gearing up for that surgery and subsequent ones. That was the biggest gift that Jeremy gave me and I don’t think he realizes that impact. The workouts, the sweat, the physical strength were side effects of the mental outlook that I gained.

So, fast forward to today. May 24, 2020. We are in the midst of a pandemic and I’m struggling with my hip recovery. I have felt a loss of connection to my body, others and my confidence. But, I am getting there. Today, my hips were told the truth. You are strength. You are power. You are hope. You are connected.

This was messaged to me during an absolutely insightful, music and mantra filled yoga class with about 40 other people through Zoom. I had my essential oils. I had my candles. I carved out a place and time for my practice. I had an intention. And, today, I was reminded that connection is so much more about an emotional connection than a physical space. It is about the flame that we all want to light. It is about taking sadness and fear to the mat and standing up with arms raised even with imperfect hips. It is about selflessness, love, patience and, at the end of the day, hope.

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