To the Woman Next to Me at Yoga This Morning

To the woman next to me at yoga this morning,

Let me start with an apology.  I’m sorry for walking into class late and being immediately annoyed by the fact that you had taken MY spot in front of the door.  How dare she.  I’m sorry for looking at your long blond hair and equally long and slender arms and legs and inwardly groaning, certain you were simply there to make me feel self-conscious and unsure of myself.  I think I might hate you and I don’t even know you.  I’m sorry for inwardly rolling my eyes at you when, instead of focusing inward on the work I needed to be doing, I was secretly checking you out from the corner of my eye, trying to calculate if my work was as good as your work, and I noticed you chomping away on a stick of gum as if your life depended on it.  How crass.   Puhleaaase.  Who chews gum in yoga?  I’m sorry for feeling threatened and assuming you were trying to be a show off when you started straying from the program and doing your own thing.  Who does she think she is?

I’m sorry for all of this, for drawing a picture of you in my head without knowing you at all.  I realized I was sorry when I felt you crying next to me.  I felt your pain before I heard the quiet sobs that grew into a flood of tears and only subsided with your early exit through the door directly behind you.  Maybe I felt it before I heard it because I knew it.  You see, that space in front of the door was so important to me because for a long time, I needed that escape hatch, that easy and inconspicuous exit should the need arise.  I’ve cried more tears in the darkened corners of yoga studios than I care to admit.  That “sweat towel” that joined me in class? Oh, that’s wasn’t for sweat.  That was my “just in case I’m lying in Savasana and I feel the tears coming towel”.  I throw it over my eyes and pretend I’m just really trying to connect to the Om.

Yoga is tough stuff.  People flock to it because it is healing and strengthening and grounding and centering.  But the sometimes scary secret about yoga is that the healing and strengthening and grounding and centering happens because yoga forces you to slow down and be quiet and move into the hard spots, the stiff spots, the spots clenched tight, protecting you from what you don’t want to feel and making you listen to what you don’t want to hear.  As one of my favorite teachers liked to say, “Whatever is in the way is the way.”  You can’t get to the light if you don’t go through the dark spots.  So yes, if you are clenched up tight and looking for release, there will be tears on your way to the bliss.  And that’s OK.

As you walked out that door today, I said a prayer for you.  I wished you peace and love.  I wished you courage.  Sister, please don’t give up.  It’s OK you used the escape hatch today.  It’s safe to come back.  I’ll make sure your spot is waiting for you next week, and the week after, and the week after that.

Because someone gave up that spot for me a long time ago, giving me a chance to heal, and it’s time I pay it forward.




  1. jenbrunett

    There are so many amazing things going on here. At first I didn’t like the blonde either.. but then I felt for her as you did. Yoga strengthens us on many different levels, doesn’t it.

    1. mommytransformations

      Thanks! Isn’t it funny how we don’t like someone we know nothing about based on the packaging? I like to think I am above that, but I think we are all guilty of it every day on many levels. One of my favorite quotes is “Be kind: Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Today my yoga helped remind me I needed to do a better job. And yes, you are right, yoga does strengthen us on many different levels!

    1. mommytransformations

      Thank you. It felt like a transforming experience to me. I’m glad that came across when I translated it onto paper.

  2. Martha B

    A lot of scary stuff can happen when you let yourself be still for a little. I love how yoga opens these doorways to so much emotional growth. I think we’ve all had a minute or two in our practice where things got heavy, and it wasn’t just because of physical discomfort. Well said.

    1. mommytransformations

      Thank you for sharing. “A lot of scary stuff can happen when you let yourself be still for a little.” Yes!

    1. mommytransformations

      “We carry so much of our grief and tension within ourselves. And sometimes we just have to let in go.” Absolutely. I am slowly learning that life isn’t lived by holding on, but by letting go.

  3. Madhura

    At first I wasn’t sure of the apology for the inexplicable hatred. And then I understood, and your story just rang so honest and true. You completely drop the judgments and sympathize with her. Yes, Yoga can get that out of you, it is an emotional experience. Nicely written! 🙂

  4. icescreammama

    we all make those snap judgments. i love your realization. sometimes it takes something like that to break thru our wall of generalizations about people to remember we’re all just people struggling.

    1. mommytransformations

      “we’re all just people struggling” – I’m glad that’s what you took away from this piece, because it’s exactly what I was going for 🙂

    1. mommytransformations

      Ha! Isn’t it funny how we always think we are the only ones to do something or feel something or think something. Sometimes I am so hard on myself because I think I possess this unique set of crazy. Blogging has been freeing for me in that regard. From reading the words of others that could have be written by my pen to getting emails and comments from people saying thank you for telling your story, I thought I was the only one who felt that way. It’s given me license to appreciate and not be so afraid of who I am.

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