Practice Why I Returned to Yoga Taking a break from practicing can be refreshing. Coming back is invigorating. By Jenna Hatfield Yesterday morning, I nervously rounded up my yoga mat, slipped into my favorite green capris, and drove ten minutes to a newly opening yoga studio. The first in our area, I felt giddy as I walked in, rolled out my mat, and sat down. Giddy and nervous and almost repentant, as if I needed to stand on the other side of the screen and whisper, head bowed, “My name is Jenna. It’s been over two years since my last yoga class.” While I’ve been gone for a while—running, healing, seeking, and occasionally practicing on my own—I came back to yoga for so many reasons. I came back to yoga for the feeling. I crave the way holding a pose makes me feel. Running allows me to escape while yoga forces me to be present—present in body, in spirit, in mind. Finding the separation and space during a class gives me an ability to find those things as I head out into the real world… which is not always painted in a calming hue, set at a perfect temperature, or filled with soothing voices and tones. I came back to yoga as a new person, physically. I want to stand on a mat, hands in prayer, and believe in the strength I now possess. I want to see how the hours spent running the road translated into stronger legs and core. I want to strengthen my arms and upper body, to see and feel them as new and strong, too. I want to work on regaining flexibility not just in my back but in my running-tightened hamstrings. I want to work out the kink in my hip. I want to do all of this while breathing deeply, connected. I came back to yoga as a new person, emotionally. I’ve been working hard on me over the past year. The one thing I struggle the most with is perfectionism. While I still have miles to go, I notice the ways in which I allow myself room for mistakes, for growth, for questioning, for silence. It’s new and a bit scary, but it’s improved my overall life and fitness. In addition to knowing when my body physically needs a break, I also know when I emotionally need a time out. Most importantly, I don’t beat myself up as much or as often for taking those breaks, for listening to my body, for stopping when I need to stop. I came back to yoga content, but seeking. I didn’t sign up for the class because I dislike my body; I am in awe by what it can do, day in and day out. Instead, I signed up seeking what else this temple of my being can do. It can run 26.2 miles, but can it sit still without wiggling, without thinking about the grocery list or worrying about a looming deadline? It can keep up with the kids, but can it slow down and simply be? It can fit into pants, but can it fit into itself? I came back to yoga ready to accept what it has to offer. Yoga is not an answer to my physical, emotional, or spiritual problems. Yoga is part of the journey I am on as I mature in each of these ways. I do no expect it to heal me; I predict it will help me continue on this path of life. I left class yesterday feeling renewed, physically whole, and at peace. I drove the long way home, windows down and music up, feeling the wind on my skin with a smile on my face. It felt as if all the moments prior lead up to this one, like stars aligned or fates met. Or maybe I came back to yoga because I was finally ready. Photo by Ali Kaukas — Jenna Hatfield is an editor, writer, and storyteller. She also loves to capture little moments of daily life with her camera. She blogs at Stop, Drop & Blog and has also worked as a photographer, though currently she prefers photographing her two sons, her husband, their zany German Shepherd, and six bossy chicken. Beyond writing and photography, Jenna also enjoys running (currently training for her second full marathon), cooking, and reading all the books. You can follow Jenna on Twitter and Instagram.