Last week, I combined my two of my great loves: yoga & biking. Now, melding two things you hold dear works intermittently; debatably peas go with carrots; but I also love bacon and vodka and I tried to infuse the two together once and the results were disgusting and disastrous. I looked up the best route and exclaimed: “Perfect, all we have to do is cruise up 17th the whole way!” My friend grimaced as the words exited my mouth. “We don’t want to do that,” she said, “It’s literally uphill the entire time.” We opted for an easier route that took us through a park and nonchalantly dropped us to the front doors of our studio. We proceeded to have a delightful Yin class and rode home into the sunset like a goddamn fairytale.
This week I found myself solo, lips quaking to utter a “Namaste” and signed up for a 6 PM Yoga Nidra class, an atypical time for me as I usually can’t swing it with my work schedule. Had I simply got into my car like a normal person on a time constraint, I would have arrived to the soft ambiance of 21st Yoga, not a bead of sweat on my brow, nodded at my fellow yogi’s, wondered how much Chia seed they’d put in their smoothie that morning, and spread my mat out and smiled in Supta Baddha Konasana until class started. But no.
Of course I was determined to bike there, and with the clock ticking it only made sense to take the most direct route possible – hills and all. Within five minutes I realized my friend had been absolutely right the week prior – I didn’t want to go that way. When I arrived at my destination, I had snot and sweat running down my scarlet red face, lips thrashing violently and blindly searching for the nozzle of my Camelbak. “It’s hot out!” a man said coolly as he unlocked his bike next to mine, “Hope your ride was downhill!”
After catching my breath, I walked into the studio and almost directly into a friend of mine. “Hi!” she smiled, “It’s HOT out there!” Obviously she’d noticed my bike attire and was acknowledging the fury I’d gone through to get there, or was pursing a career in meteorology. I both instinctively greeted her with a hug and instantly regretted it – not for my sake but for hers. The amount of perspiration on my clothing was akin to that of someone thrown into a shower unprepared and against his or her own will. I then realized as a yoga instructor your job probably entails 5-10% hugging sweaty students, and felt better. Luckily I had signed up for Yoga Nidra, which is loosely defined as “yogic sleep.” I had never done a Nidra class but knew it was heavily meditative and included little to no movement, which would be ideal for my condition that day.
I was ready for a full-blown nap, and certainly could have gotten away with it, but opted to show up the best I could and follow along with the practice. At one point he asked us to picture a staircase that we would ascend. Once we reached the top, we would open a door and look for a wise woman. If we found her, we were encouraged to sit down and see if she had a message for us. At the end of class he opened up a short discussion for anyone who was willing to share their experience – specifically with that exercise in mind. “I couldn’t see a face,” one woman said, “It was like that Michael Jackson music video where there were just a bunch, and I couldn’t differentiate which I should look at.” I respected her shout-out to the music video ‘Man In The Mirror’ more than I appreciated anything that day. I hope she knows if she wants to make the world a better place, she’s just gotta look at herself and make that change (Hoo!)
Meanwhile, I squirmed on my mat like a kid in kindergarten whose got something to say but too shy to speak. When he told me to go up the staircase I was already walking, and when he said to open the door I was turning the knob. Atop waited this beautiful woman with long brown hair and wisdom in the creases of her kind and smiling eyes. I could see every line on her face as she ushered for me to sit down next to her. In a firm, but not overly jarring tone, she just said: “Stop showing up for people who aren’t showing up for you.” Her affect was serious, the words rung in my ears like the aftermath of an explosion, and I just heard her and felt her completely. The instructor kept trying to bring us back to what we’d “written on the altar of our heart” as intention for the class, and I couldn’t concentrate on one damn thing after that. It played on a loop, over and over again.
It got me to thinking that it’s easy to throw away people that are truly toxic like the trash that they are – but when it comes to family, friends, and people you care about; it elicits a very different situation. Sometimes you put yourself in a position, and I do this with my Mother, where you give and give and give, and get very little back – and it’s hard AF to set boundaries there. Or maybe you have a friend or another family member where you talk all the time, but can’t remember the last time they asked how you are. Stop showing up for them. It doesn’t have to be permanent, but stop showing up for people who aren’t showing up for you. Show up for you.
Think of yourself like a balloon, and at the start of the day, you are full. People can take air out, but they can also put some back in. Consider who is deflating you, and who is taking the time to fill you back up – it’s called reciprocity. It doesn’t mean you have to write anyone off, but set your boundaries whether they are verbal or non-verbal. Hear them, but don’t feel the need to validate everything they need validated. It’s hard with those whom we are close to but not showing up doesn’t mean being an asshole – it just means redefining how you approach a relationship that’s not mutually beneficial at that point in time. Your energy is limited and valid and so, so important.
I was trying to figure out all week why I was so exhausted, and where all my energy was going. Why I cried the first two days of the week and attempted to blame it on Mercury Retrograde or any other planet in question. After this experience, I took a brief inventory on how I was showing up, and whom I was showing up for – I realized I wasn’t even on my list. Whether she was a 3.6 mile uphill bike ride delusion of someone who had exactly the right words to say or not – I urge you to heed her words as I did. Take inventory on your people and make sure you’re getting ROI – put yourself first and foremost and everyone else’s shit second. Stop showing up, for people who aren’t showing up for you. Give wind to the excuses you’ve given them before and take a step back. Whether it be family, friends, or anyone in between; where you are giving and not getting…just stop. Even if just for a few days, put a pause on the rest of the world and just show up solely for you. You may be surprised what you find.