|Julie Flygare Photography|
This summer, I spent about 88 hours doing yoga. 24 hours in downward dog. And 8 glorious hours in pigeon pose.
We fell in love by accident. As a life-long runner, yoga was never my thing. It wasn’t even a “legitimate” workout.
In late May, I heard about a “21 Day Yoga Challenge” – to take 21 yoga classes in 21 days at Tranquil Space. I kept flirting with the idea… I’m a sucker for challenges. My rational self screamed, “You’ll hate it. Don’t do it!” My competitive evil twin responded, “You’ll hate it. Do it anyway!”
Since running the Boston Marathon, I’ve begun questioning my preconceived boundaries. I never thought I’d be able to run 26.2 miles, but I’d proved myself wrong. Now, I was curious – what other lies might I be telling myself?
It’s what happened next that shocked me.
On June 22, I filled my schedule with other things. Yoga was out of sight, out of mind. Yet, while out with friends, an inescapable aching grew in me. I squirmed in my chair. I zoned out. Something wasn’t right.
On June 23rd, I returned to my yoga mat. Closing my eyes before class – my spirit lifted. I was calm and energized. This was meant to be – I was in love.
Now, yoga is the best part of my day and the worst part of my day. Slowly, my preconceived notions melted away. My muscles strengthened. My flexibility improved.
For a long time, I stayed away from the more challenging poses. “You have narcolepsy, Julie, don’t overdue it,” I told myself. Then, that melted away too. Well, not the narcolepsy, but the fear and trepidation.
In truth, yoga saved me from myself.
As a person with narcolepsy and cataplexy – it can be tempting to focus on the times when my mind and body fail me. In addition, this summer presented new challenges.
My literary agent began corresponding with publishers about my narcolepsy memoir. It’s an exciting time, but also scary – as my dreams waver delicately in the balance of people I’ve never met.
Yet, yoga’s taught me that I can experience life through different channels – my head, my heart or my body. Like choosing between various cable news channels, you may hear very different versions of “reality” depending on who’s telling the story.
When I listen to my head’s channel – I’m prone to worrying about my future and second-guessing my past.
Yoga’s guided me into my body. Sounds intuitive, but it’s not. It’s hard to muffle out the brain’s chatter to listen to the body’s subtle yet important side of the story.
Oddly enough, no matter how horrible my day and no matter if narcolepsy and cataplexy bring me down at other times – my body usually feels quite good while doing yoga – supportive and strong.
Proudly, I attended 72 yoga classes this summer – spending 88 hours pushing myself and celebrating my body’s resilience. I also spent a lot of time running, as an afterthought to my daily yoga.
If I could have stretched and strengthened my way to a publishing deal this summer – I would have. I’ve envisioned reaching my goal and I sense that I’m gaining speed. Some things are out of my control, yet I assure you my spirit is fierce and my heart filled with joy, hope, and love.
A special thanks to Kimberly and the wonderful yoga instructors at Tranquil Space Studios (in DC and Arlington) for making this journey possible. This is the best yoga studio I’ve ever been to and I highly recommend it.