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Down Dog Log 4

Finding My Expression.

Blog by Riley Missel (Student Athlete, Spradic Yogi, To-Do List Enthusiast, Cat Mom)

I hate kombucha. I hadn’t tried it until recently, but danggg. It tastes like spiked vinegar and apple juice. No thank you. As much as the yoga blogs and Pinterest posts rave about its benefits… I can’t. On top of this aversion, I also don’t have long skinny legs, a calm demeanor, or cool tattoos.

But the good news is: I’m still a yogi.

But Riley! They exclaim. We can’t even tell by your Instagram photos. Are you sure?

Here’s how I started to see that deepening my yoga practice does not involve drinking bitter liquid or shopping at Lululemon.

On day 21 of my challenge, I toted my mat up to 86th and Ditch to check out the studio up there and take a class with Yvonne. In the middle of a flow, she said something that hit me right in the heart. We tipped forward onto one foot for a half-moon pose and she said “breathe, and find your expression of this pose.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. My expression? Isn’t there a correct expression? Didn’t you have something in mind here Yvonne? I didn’t even know what to do with that freedom, so I just took a regular old half-moon. But as we flowed on, I continued to tumble that thought around in my mind.

My expression…my expression…

On the next side, I bent my knee and took my foot into my outstretched hand. I’d seen someone do it once, and it felt fun. Was it my expression? What did that even mean?

My half-moon didn’t look exactly like the woman’s on the mat beside me. It was mine. My half-moon balanced on a leg made strong by miles and miles of riding a bicycle, and stretched shoulders stiff from a past snowboard wipe-outs and a broken collarbone. And it wiggled and wobbled in a new shape, because I was feeling brave that day.

Finding my expression means I can be me as I practice. I can move like me and breathe like me. It means I don’t need long legs or perfect standing splits to experience yoga the way I was meant to.

Everyone’s body has been through different things: broken bones, dance training, having children, working construction… things that alter the body, which in turn affect your practice. Some of us have tempers, eat junk food, and go weeks without practicing (hi!). But these are the things to be embraced. Because when we find our expression in our practice, we are honoring the wonderful body we’ve been given and the wonderful things it’s given us. That is the yoga I want to practice.

And I won’t even have to drink kombucha.


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