Yoga is my happy place

Initially, I started going to mother and daughter yoga for the bit pertaining to the mother and daughter. It is nice to know there is a fixed time where we can relax without the usual humdrum interfering. But am beginning to also go for the yoga variable too.

I am not a naturally bendy sort of person. Touching my toes would be something of a miracle, as to date, it has never happened. I sort of kinda hang, and the tippy tips of my fingers come to about the level of my knees. On a good day. I took my daughter to yoga when she was small, as I understand the massive yoga benefits. I just never thought of it as something for me.

Yoga always seems to make me laugh. Tears streaming down my face, don’t look at anyone because it will just make it worse, face aching sort of laughter. I think that this comes from the teacher. She is utterly okay that for around half of the moves, I will have a go, but I mostly just sit on my mat, looking at my daughter, and we laugh together (she is hyper mobile, meaning every so often she needs a little rest!). In the last session, the laughter started when we were attempting a ‘laying down crow’ (even writing about this is making me laugh.. With tears too!). For anyone unfamiliar with this, it involves laying on your back holding your feet together with your hands. In essence, creating an ‘O’ with your legs which you can look through. And I did, locking eyes with my yoga teacher who was doing the same. She then made a comment about it not being very dignified, at which point my face engaged in wetness.

It also really challenges me, and I am amazing myself. When we got to regular crow (hands on floor, attempting to balance knees on elbows, with feet in the air.. much more dignified, and at least a hundred times more difficult than rolling about laughing on the afore mentioned mat), I suddenly felt really motivated. My hands really hurt as they were attempting to take the weight of mind, body and soul. But I kept trying (didn’t succeed this time around… but next time for the win!). This move involves strength, but most importantly, incredibly good balance. I was becoming sort of worried that my hands may never function in their fully working capacity again. But as I left the studio; my hands were fine. This really shocked me, as it turns out, I am stronger than I know.

As we walked back to the car, I felt really light, really clear. I didn’t feel like I could conquer the world, but I was utterly sure of my place in it. I may attempt to find a class just for me at some point, with one definite in mind. The teacher absolutely must make me laugh.

Map Point. When have I surprised myself?

Additional thank you to the teacher of epic’s epic daughter too! Every session she takes photos which are then mailed out. Being a parent of the single variety there are very few photos of me and my daughter together, so these photos are really special to me. Massive amount of gratitude to you both! xx

The problem of always winning

Growing up, I remember spending every Saturday without fail at my grandparents. We would all go out, with my Mum and Nan consulting on clothing and the like, and when we got back, we would play all manner of games, draughts, buckaroo, Sorry, Snakes and Ladders.. and many more I have likely long since forgotten. It provided me with a host of good memories and a life time love for board games. There was only one problem with this, they always let me win.

At the time, this was amazing, I was quite clearly the luckiest girl on earth, every game, I am a winner! This instilled an amazing sense of optimism, but at the same time created an expectation. When I played board games with other people, this became a contention. I was no longer naturally winning, this created uproar and confusion. I had to start dealing with losing too.

What probably kept me going through this transition was likely two things. First was my utter love for games and second was my Uncle Dave. Uncle Dave suddenly brought a host of new games into my life – Monopoly, Risk and one of my utter devotions, Scrabble. So the process of learning these infinitely more complex games counterbalanced me losing more often. And this helped. A bit.

I mean I knew that people both won and lost and that this was okay. Intellectually I understood this variable, but emotionally, not so much. I remember congratulating opponents on their win then excusing myself to go hide and cry. I felt terrible, I had lost the game, I had failed. This sense of failure I really closely identified with. I likened what should have been an entertaining diversion with a catastrophic event. Losing at a game and linking that to self-worth was not healthy.

And then I became older and suddenly losing at games became okay. I had learnt to distance myself from my unrealistic expectation of always winning, to enjoying games for the sheer sake of playing them. I enjoyed the process without being dependent on the outcome.

I still play board games now (when I can find willing participants!), and now my loves have extended to cards, mancala, Trivial Pursuit and very much still Scrabble. However, it is the playing I love, the social interaction, the tactile appreciation and the intellectual reasoning that accompanies strategy and knowledge-based games. It is nice to win sometimes, but I don’t hold onto those feelings as something that endorses my self-worth. For me losing was an excellent skill to acquire, it increased my strength to take risks. When losing felt terrible, it mirrored how terrible I felt about any loss, any misadventure could spell danger. Now I am less afraid.

Map Point. Where does my self-worth come from?

My voice

I have often felt frustration with how I use my words. It is every time I wish I have said something to someone who has put me down, dismissed me because I do not register as important to them, and it creates utter frustration with myself. Why can’t I be the person who is okay to speak up, who is certain of themselves enough to believe that they are worth being heard?

Perhaps it is conditioning of being told to be quiet and not to question, of being made to feel annoying or stupid if I ever I did. School can be harsh in lots of ways. Perhaps it was being in a relationship for a long time with someone who continually spoke over me. I felt as if my words were worth nothing at all.

I was always a quiet child. School reports labelled me as ‘shy’ and ‘needing to come out of myself more’. But I think I was genuinely happy, functioning contently in my world of books, art and plastic bricks (still a massive Lego fan now). I didn’t particularly speak up for myself, but there mostly wasn’t a requirement for me to do so.

The strange thing is, friends have often commented on how strong I am, how well I meet the challenges that I am faced with, how it sometimes appears that there is nothing I cannot do. I have had people who I have not seen for some years telling me that I am almost unrecognisable (in a good way!) to the person they once knew. This creates a quandary.

I am clearly very attached to the person that I was and have kept the memory of that emotional place without realising quite how much I have changed. This feels like quite a big thing when I try and define who I am, I am using words that would have described a ‘past’ me and not the ‘present’ version.

Maybe we have to grow into the person who we actually are without carrying all this unnecessary weight. We all have our histories which have shaped up and brought us to the present moment. However some of the insecurities we have dropped along the way, even if we have not realised it. It would be truly wonderful to provide all long-term friends with a tick sheet once a year to somewhat more objectively chart our growth. But this isn’t necessary. It’s being realistic with our definitions. If I consider myself to be someone who is insecure in their words, then I need to be able to find recent examples within my life. If all the memories that are stirred are from years ago, then it is likely time to let that definition go.

Map Point. Am I the person I think I am?