September 4, 2013

A Break-Up Letter. ~ Sapha Arias

Letting Go of a Practice and a Deep Passion

For the last few days, there has been a strange ache in my heart. The kind of ache you are rewarded with only after a breakup has taken place in your life or when something precious has been lost to you forever. The pain is clear, even though it is mixed with joy, courage and love. But it is still there, just below the surface, and it is demanding my full attention.

It has taken me quite some time to figure out what’s wrong, to understand what it is that I am mourning. It is a strange feeling, realizing that your life is filled with joy and love and that you are surrounded by an innumerable amount of blessings but still feel like you are in the process of losing something precious.

It has been a challenging year for me—in more ways than I care to count—but still, this sadness is beyond me. I keep thinking it is all in my head, or that maybe I am getting nostalgic as another birthday comes and goes. But the reality is that I am embarking on a new journey, and along with this new adventure, many things in my life must change. Some are screaming to be released, even though it pains me to hear their voices.

The topic of letting go and releasing seems to be one that has touched many lives this year. Many blogs, articles, books, movies, etc. have been created about this subject in the last few years. I don’t know if it is because on some level, we are all beginning to realize that attachment has brought forth more harm than good, or if it is a sign that human beings are finally being able to see things through a loving scope as opposed to one filled with stories and expectations. All I know is that, for my part, letting go is nearly impossible and damn right excruciating at this moment.

In fact, the act of putting this in writing is terrifying, but I know it is the only way I will be able to process what is happening. What can I say? I use my yoga and my words to learn and grow, so this is my attempt at understanding the sadness and letting go of my love. My love, funny how it feels as I type the words as though I were referring to a lover. And yet, it is not a lover I am referring to. It isn’t even a person or an old grudge I have harbored for someone. (Although, to be quite frank, I think it is time I let go of those feelings as well.)

But this thing I need to let go of isn’t the standard “issue” one lets go of so one can live a more plentiful life. No, my task is that of setting something I love beyond words free. It is the task of letting go of something that has changed my life in such a wonderful way that the realization that it is time to move on has taken my breath and joy away. My task is to let go of my Ashtanga practice.

There, I’ve said it, and though I am still standing, I ache with the reality and the magnitude of the thing. To think that not so long ago it was my Ashtanga practice that allowed me to heal wounds I didn’t even know existed. In fact, it was through my Ashtanga practice that I finally came to see how truly wonderful yoga can be, and beyond that, it was through my Ashtanga practice that I was finally able to see just how spectacularly wonderful I am.

This practice, more than any other, has allowed me to delve deep within my soul, and this practice revived me at a time when I needed it most. And yet, it is this same practice that I must now set free.

I didn’t want to be a cliché and mention the old adage of “If you love something, set it free” but truly, this is what I have to do at this present time.

The truly crazy thing is that I feel as though I was, truly and sincerely, breaking up with Ashtanga, and along with this breakup come the usual issues such as the age-old separation form our old friends (all the little ashtangis who will turn up their noses when I admit I am practicing more yin, anusara, and vinyasa styles) and all the dreams I ever put together of what my life would be like side-by-side with my “love” being crushed by the break up—such as that seemingly unreachable dream to fly to Mysore for months and months on end to be taught by the Jois family.

Then comes the unease and shame in telling people that I have been left behind, followed by the consequent looks of pity, doubt, confusion, judgment, or  “I told you so” that will bother me to no end (as they bother anyone who has gone through a breakup).

As for as the motive for the breakup, I think it is safe to say that a series of injuries that have come about, not in practice incidentally, have led me to understand that the universe is asking me to slow down, be patient, love more—and let go of Ashtanga.

I know that there are many who will not understand or condone the breakup. They will say that I need to take some time, and then give it another chance to work out. Because in the end, we were a match made in heaven. Then there will be those who suggest a little tryst here and there with the occasional Iyengar class, but I do not have it in me to be a cheater. Besides, the time for trysts has long come and gone. And how to make those people understand that the time has come where I have learned all I can learn from this practice and that my spirit, my mind, and my body are demanding a change.

In the span of four months, I have aggravated my knees (which, admittedly is something that since the age of 18 can be easy to do), broken a toe and sprained my wrist. And although all of these injuries have been acquired through my own clumsiness and not in the middle of practice, they have also come about when I am finally getting my Ashtanga groove “back on.”

I have always been a firm believer that things happen for a reason and that all we go through and all the people we meet are there to better us and teach us lessons. So, I know that it has not been a coincidence that these injuries have come about all at once.

They are asking me to slow down, be patient, take my time and be more honest regarding my personal practice and my day-to-day life.

I also know it isn’t coincidental that all these injuries have thrown my Ashtanga off course every single time but have not appeared, interfered, or bothered with other practices.

All these signs are telling me no, screaming at me that it is time to let my love go, to set it free, and to let it come back only when and if it is ever time again for us to reunite.

Just this evening as I reflected on this sad reality, I received a message from another yogi friend of mine whose love affair with Ashtanga, though unique to her, has also been strong and deep. Her words reminded me of why it is that I have been feeling like the breakup has been coming for a while now. She writes, “I’ve been doing some soul searching as well. I came back from India so beaten and injured. It just wasn’t right. I love Ashtanga and so want it to work, but I keep feeling like I’m hammering a square peg in a round hole.” These words hit home, and the tears began to roll from my eyes. They still roll, in fact, as I type.

In our conversation, I told my friend (but really I was telling myself) that I understood the pain and fear that come along with this particular breakup, that I know it is complicated because it’s almost as if everyone around you, yourself included, was going to be disappointed that you decided to do this and that it was as if you were just giving up. But I think it’s important to realize that sometimes things and people come into our lives just for a little bit, and then we have to let them go.

There are some people that are meant to do Ashtanga for the rest of their lives I’m sure, but maybe some of us needed to learn from it just for a little while and now need to move on to something else.

So, this is my longwinded way of saying that it is time to face my reality. It is time to let go of fear and sadness and let go of one of the greatest loves of my life in order to find a new love, a new path, and a new set of lessons as well as to take some time to heal the new injuries, physical or otherwise. It is time to break up. It is time to move on.

“And I won’t be far from where you are if ever you should call

You meant more to me than anyone I ever loved at all

 But you taught me how to trust myself and so I say to you

This is what I have to do

‘Cause I don’t know who I am, who I am without you

All I know is that I should…” Missy Higgins—“Where I Stood”


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Assistant Ed: Andie Britton-Foster/Ed: Sara Crolick

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