it’s not really about yoga

…and it also is really about yoga.

If we’ve spoken recently, you know how much I’m struggling right now because I can’t go to yoga. Yah, I know I can “do” yoga at home. I know I can go to restorative yoga. I know I can adapt postures. I know I can stretch. I know, I know, I know. And you know what I also know? I don’t want restorative yoga. I don’t want to adapt postures. I don’t want to do yoga at home. I know you’re trying to help, but it’s not what I want. I want Bikram yoga. I want hot yoga. I want hard yoga. I want challenge, sweat, bright lights, mirrors, and coconut water.

It’s not really about the yoga, though, is it? I’m fixated on yoga, and I’m holding on tightly, desperately, and I’m unwilling to let go– but the yoga obsession is really a reflection of the broken disruption of cancer as a whole.  I want the things from before cancer, like my appetite for adventure and my carelessness about scheduling and my innocence. I want a life unscathed by cancer compromises. I don’t want to bend or change or give in to cancer, I want desperately to twist everything my way even though I know I can’t, and I still want to badly enough that I am exhausting myself trying, hoping, wanting, desiring. I want to arch my back and scream NOOOOOOOOOOOO when I am asked my the world to change because of cancer. I don’t want to. I don’t. I don’t. I don’t. I know it’s an effort in futility, sort of. Yet, I cannot keep from banging my head against the wall, from screaming in the car with the windows rolled up, from tightening my muscles and squeezing my eyes shut and desiring that which I cannot have, be it yoga, be it to never had had cancer, be it to skip this cancer-processing time.

The only way is through. The way I have to travel is through these days without yoga, through the homesickness for yesterday, through the surgeries and across the scars snaking their way across my skin.

When I say, “But I want to go to yoga and that would make everything better and I can’t go yet,” I do mean I want yoga. But I also mean I want something much larger, something much bigger, something much grander than yoga. Wanting yoga is a stand-in for wanting normalcy, wanting calm, wanting steadiness and wanting beyond cancer.

I am far too enraged to accept changes cancer asks me to make about my body, my life, my routine. Accepting change, moving with difference, letting go of what once was requires peace and acceptance, even if some tears are shed. I cannot accept yet. I have no peace inside me about cancer. What I do have is anger, rage, frustration, hate.

What I can do i scream at the top of my lungs and insist I need yoga, now, anyways, in spite of my surgery, immediately and with no regard for repercussions. I prickle at the suggestion to try restorative this and modified that. There is an angry fire-ball in my belly. The flames leaping inside of me burn more furiously with all your suggestions, suggestions I don’t want, suggestions I try to accept but hate, suggestions that make the flames leap out of my mouth, and sometimes they come it in words that sting and burn. There is so much anger for cancer, and I have no willingness to accept cancer or the way its battered my body. I do have plenty of back-arching anger because I can’t steal the past eight months back and re-arrange them without cancer. I want yesterday back.

I know being calm, moving away from anger, gaining peace is all healthy and great and bla bla bla. I don’t care. I’m not there. And anger is valid, too. The only way is through.

And so you ask how I am. And I tell you I want to go to yoga. And if you are my mother, you become horrified and tell me I better obey the doctors’ orders. If you are my friend you suggest restorative yoga. If you are my yoga buddy you say I always want to go to yoga. But you know what? It’s not about yoga. Of course it’s a little about yoga. But mostly, it’s about control. It’s about hating cancer. It’s about being divorced from a part of my body I loved. It’s about rampant anger. It’s about wishing I could undo. It’s about passionately wondering why. It’s about desiring what I didn’t know I had. It’s about flailing without direction. It’s about losing control over my body. It’s about having things done to my body, needles stuck into me, pictures taken of me, where I am the object, not the subject.

So it’s about yoga, but mostly it’s about being the subject. It’s about re-centralizing what I want to happen to my body. It’s about getting to decide how I want to hold my body, treat my body, move with my body. And it’s about the wild vengeance that goes with knowing I can’t totally grasp being the subject of this story.

So yoga. It’s about yoga. But it’s also about this whole story, my refusal to accept, my desire to be the subject, be in control, re-write history, herstory, and mystory. Yoga will be there, waiting, next week. If I can wait that long. It’s about yoga, but its really about so much, much more, and the only way is through.


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