How Yoga Works: Friends & Family as Yoga

Last week I spent a glorious five days with someone I love very, very much.  We ate amazing food, did a lot of yoga, ate more amazing food (Seattle has some kick ass vegan/gluten-free restaurants), laughed until our cheeks hurt, and spent quality time together.  You know it’s a good friendship when you don’t even have to talk.  We spent afternoons together quietly reading or knitting or just thinking in the peaceful company of someone you trust.

I left this trip feeling refreshed and renewed in a way I haven’t felt it years.  It’s like the felling you get after an amazing yoga class, only this time the “yoga buzz” lasts into the rest of your life.  I realized this last night, which is what prompted this post — that my friends are part of my yoga.

Like yoga, they meets me where I am, with no thought to changing who I am, or trying to fix the things that are broken.  When things fell apart in January, even 3000 miles away, I knew Tess was there, on GChat, and willing to drop everything at work to talk.  Closer to home, Erin called to tell me she was coming over.  No questions asked.  She came, and sat with me and it was the best and kindest thing someone could have done at that moment.  Friends from childhood, college, those crazy years in New York City, library school, work and my yoga community all rallied … or at least it felt like they did.  In my darkest moments, there was always someone checking in.

As in any crisis, it’s astounding to find out just how deep and wide your community is.  People I thought I barely knew checked in and became closer than before.  Others, sadly, checked out.  No blame – everyone handles difficult situations in their own way.

If it wasn’t for friends [and family, too — there were some great conversations and email exchanges with family in this process] I would not be where I am today: happy, healthy and full more joy than I have felt in years.  Like a good yoga practice, they accepted me for who and where I was.  It was because of this support that I found the courage and strength to follow my heart.

Because of my yoga, I know that I can hold a deep utkatasana for as long as I need to.  Because of my friends and family and their role in my yoga journey, I know that I can survive whatever life throws my way.  I know I can because I have.  I know I can because I will.

I talked about the importance of community in a previous post, but I am still so overwhelmed by the amount of people who “check in” on a daily or weekly basis.  Just this simple act of checking in, and sincerely asking “how are you?” means more than this blog post can express.  It has taught me to pay more attention to checking in, with an open and sincere heart. To listen to their feelings and not try to fix anything (a challenge for me the nurturer!).  And if that’s not one of the ultimate yoga lessons, I’ll eat my mat.

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4 responses to “How Yoga Works: Friends & Family as Yoga

  1. I love you Abby, and am so proud of you. Thank you for posting this.

  2. Love you, too, honey. Thank you for being such an inspiration and fantastic friend.

  3. You have reminded me again of this quote that I’m so addicted to – “if you knew who walked beside you, on this path that you have chosen, you could never experience fear or doubt again”.

    I always interpreted it as a religious or at least vaguely spiritual quote, and recently figured out how to read it in a completely secular way, but yesterday someone pointed out that it could be read as as a description of the power of friends and community.

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