Guest Post by Michelle Gonzales
I am so honored to be able to share a little about me and my yoga journey with you today. My name is Michelle Gonzales. I am recently engaged, I work as an Associate Marriage and Family therapist at a nonprofit, I love my dogs, food, my family, my friends, Harry Potter weekends and all things cozy (hot drinks, fireplaces, snow and fuzzy socks just to name a few). I am also a recovering perfectionist, slightly bossy, anxious and self-critical at times.
This month is my 1 year yogaversary at OTY and I am so excited to reflect on how far I have come and see where else it takes me. I stumbled on OTY when my former professor (current friend) invited me to join in on a Sunday yoga session Desiree was hosting for one of her classes. I have always enjoyed yoga and wanted to take classes but never found a studio I wasn’t completely intimidated by. I always worried about being judged because I didn’t know the names of all the poses or how to do them perfectly. About 10 minutes into the class with Desiree, tears started to flow. All of the stress and anxiety that I had been holding in my body was able to find some release and Desiree’s words about taking chances and self-belief poked me in a sore spot, right where I needed to be poked.
After that first class I probably came 8 times in my 2 week trial. I loved having an hour just to focus on me and cry in savasana if I needed to. I am not going to lie, when it came time for the commitment I was hesitant to continue. I knew I needed to continue for my sanity but my self-doubt made me question if I really did “need” it. I am all about the bargain so the year commitment made the most sense but then my critical self-talk made its way to the forefront. “You won’t stick to it.” “You never stick to anything fitness related.” “You’re just going to waste money.” I managed to shove those thoughts down, with the help of my friends and fiancé, and decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did.
So much has happened and changed for me since my start at OTY a year ago. In class, being nonjudgmental of ourselves is something that is spoken about in every class and it always makes me cry. A year later and I still get teary eyed. Yoga has brought to light how much I judge and compare myself to others around me. How I have a difficult time being content in being a work in progress. It has shown me what true self-care is, not the fake version I had been telling myself was good enough. I found value in what my body can do instead of what it looks like. Don’t get me wrong, I still judge my body’s appearance and nit pick every tiny flaw I manifest in my mind.
I am still quite a work in progress in that area but yoga showed me there is more to a body then how it looks in a bathing suit. I have seen my body gain strength and flexibility. I have gained a deeper understanding of my body’s needs and messages. Now I not only realize when my body needs rest, but I listen to it, because I find so much more value in being attune with myself instead of “hustling,” “grinding,” and trying to meet unrealistic goals. So many of us get into yoga as a form of physical fitness, which was 100% true for me. What I have come to learn is yoga has shown me more about my mental fitness and my self-value than anything physical. It has exercised my openness, my willingness to be vulnerable and honest as well as my ability to be authentic with myself. It has made me more generous with myself and increased my flexibility in my self-imposed expectations.
Writing this and sharing with all of you is scary and something I never would have done a year ago. I look forward to the next year of this journey and what I will be reflecting on in year 2. As part of my personal self-care, I decided this year to forego making any New Years resolutions but instead to set intentions for myself; flexible achievements that focus on growth instead of rigid expectations. I want to begin developing an at-home yoga practice that feels good to me. I want to continue to build strength and flexibility in class. I also want to work on replacing the self-critical thoughts with care and compassion. I am proud to say I am a work in progress. Messy and imperfect, but there is magic in the mess and I am grateful for every hard, messy, magical moment. That is where the lessons are.
Thank you fellow yogis for being accepting of everyone who walks into class and thank you OTY teachers for creating a safe space to mess up, grow, learn and cry in savasana.
With Abundant Gratitude,