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yoga refugee, don't have to live like a...

credit: the awesome Jennifer GrahamSo yeah, because I got injured (or injured myself) in December of 2011, then spent months in pain or recovering from surgery, then a few more months banned by doctor's orders from returning to the mat (for my own protection), I'm way out of yoga-shape.  

And because the yoga that I loved blew up in February of this year, while I watched, horrified, from the sidelines -- I mean it, Anusara, really blew up, sex scandal and everything -- I knew everything would be different when I was finally able to take my place in class.

But the weirdest part for me, I think, has been this sense of no longer being a yoga nomad, which I was for years.

Now I just feel like a yoga refugee.

Nomading, I get.  It used to be that I was so devoted to Anusara that I would travel between studios, between counties, cross bridges, state lines and borders, to study with the best teachers in the practice.  I would think nothing of meeting up with a few friends and carpooling to class at rush-hour, delaying my return home after a work-day by 3 or 4 hours, depending on whether there was a stop at the insufferable Cafe Gratitude. I had a posse of friends, we were part of a larger local and national community, it was really and truly fun.

Anusara was home.

But then my body gave out on me a bit, or at least one of my discs did.  And I was forced to step back.

And then it all fell apart.

And then I stayed away, even once I was healed, for fear of my own ingrained habits which had landed me in that hurt place in the first place.

I stopped nomading.  I stopped going one place on Sundays, another on Tuesdays, and yet another on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  I let go of the posse.  I drifted.

It was good.

But it was also weird.  I mean, this nomading was something I'd done for YEARS.  It was such a strong part of my life.

I think actually it WAS my life.

Yes, sure, things are different now: there's no Anusara, really, but all the teachers are still teaching, teaching the same but different.  Maybe not singing the same invocation, chanting something else perhaps at the beginning of class, and maybe not using the familiar jargon of loops and spirals. The teachers are still doing good work, bringing their highest to the room, sharing the gift of yoga in the best way they know how.

And I'm unhitched, I'm a yogi without a practice, like I Rip Van Winkled, fell asleep, fell away, and woke up in a different place and time altogether, where nothing is the same.

So I'm wandering now, trying to come back, trying new things, like hot yoga, just because, just because why not.

Just because I'm a refugee now, and I don't feel like I belong anywhere and so I'm looking, looking, for a practice where I can stick again, looking for a way to rekindle that pretty little fire that used to get me to class 5 times a week to hang out with people I loved.  Looking for that feeling again, that sense of strength, not just my own, but when I looked around the room -- whether 30 people or 250 -- that sense that we were making something together, something big, something beautiful.

The nostalgia is ridiculous, I'm sure, but I can't help this sense of loss. Nothing's the same, so I'm roaming, looking, rubbing two sticks together slowly and hoping for a spark.

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