Several years ago, I went through a bit of a tumultuous period. I broke up with my boyfriend, moved out of our apartment, traveled 500 miles away and landed in a new city to work at a new job and live a new, single girl life. (Cue theme song.)
My new apartment was exactly three blocks from the busiest strip of bars in my city, and I began hypothetically plotting a memoir with the working title "Weirdly Drunk for a Tuesday."
Pretty soon, I was spun out, stressed out and feeling shitty physically and emotionally. My lifestyle wasn't fun anymore, and I had drifted pretty far from my earthy, grounded self. I didn't know what anything “meant” anymore.
“Why am I here?!” I would ask my cat. I decided I needed to “find” myself. I decided I would do this through yoga. Lots and lots of yoga.
I started going to class almost every day, sometimes twice a day. And then I started banging one of my teachers.
Now before you get the mental image of some mat predator with a chin ponytail creeping on every Lululemon-clad student, I will say that I was the one who did all of the pursuing. I asked for my teacher's number, and then I invited him over and undressed myself while reciting the lyrics from TLC's “Red Light Special.” Something like that.
I was attracted to my teacher, Daniel*, because he seemed to be deeply spiritual. Yogis are always talking about “enlightenment.” I didn't really know what that meant, but it seemed like pursuing enlightenment would be a great way to find the solid ground I was searching for. I suppose I thought by boning him I would through osmosis become spiritually enlightened.
Basically, Daniel came off as very wise and his smile just seemed to say “Here, let me enlighten you(r vagina).”
Until then, I hadn't really been interested in the spiritual side of yoga. I fell in love with it in late college for the physical aspect. It's a great workout, and has helped strengthen my back, which has improved my posture so I won't terrify my hypothetical grandchildren later.
But the mental benefits are brilliant, too. I'm much too uppity to meditate without thinking about deadlines and moldy shower curtains. Yoga allows me to focus on my breathing while still providing just enough distraction so that I can reach a Zen place and appease the 4-year-old that likes to run circles inside my brain.
I thought that between my brand new prayer bead-wearing lover and the Deepak Chopra CDs I had a friend burn me, I was on my way to spiritual enlightenment! Except not really at all. Here is what I learned during my three-month yoga-bone-athon:
I have an “over-active” second chakra. Apparently, this means “promiscuous.”
One of the first things Daniel and I discussed were chakras -- a series of energy centers in the body that have their own unique characters that contribute to different aspects of our being. I really liked this idea, because it supported the thought that I could just yoga myself back to balance. There are seven main chakras in our body, and if they are blocked it can cause emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual disorders. In yoga, you can do different poses to work on different chakras that may be out of whack.
According to this really interesting book on chakras I rustled up, my second chakra was way “overactive.” The second chakra correlates with your main sense of self -- your sexual organs. (And hips, kidneys, lower back, etc...) Having an overactive second chakra means you may be practicing over-indulgence, which can translate into a life-limiting confusion. Some believe that philandering pisses off your second chakra.
This is when I stopped liking the whole blame-it-on-my-chakra method.
While I am very sexual by nature, I don't like calling this side of me “overactive.” Having a very active sexual self that needs nurturing doesn't mean something is off balance. I had just left a 4-year relationship, and clearly I was set on meeting new partners wherever I plopped myself -- be it a bar stool or yoga mat. There was nothing wrong with that.
Despite this revelation, Daniel showed me specific poses that would nurture my second chakra, like cat, pigeon, malasana, and cock goblin. Some were more effective than others. Which brings me to the second thing I learned.
Being really spiritual doesn't make you immune from douche-baggery.
It turned out that Daniel -- while maintaining the best of intentions -- was sort of a douche nugget. He was really smart and well read and had a thorough grasp of what “spirituality” meant to him -- but he wanted everyone to know it.
I don't mean to be a bitch, because he was a nice person. But nice people can still rant for hours on end about their kundalini practice and how they plan to use tantric breathing to puddle up your ladybits not so that you will feel mega volts of pleasure, but so that you will know they are the best at doing the sex, ever.
And he was. We had awesome sexual chemistry, and on top of that, he was in amazing physical shape. This, coupled with his superior sense of body awareness, proved to quite literally fuck me sideways. He had this signature move that involved standing over me as I lay on the bed, bending me into a pretzelesque shape, locking my legs above his head (all while remaining six inches deep) and then standing up so that he was screwing me midair. He pulled this entire thing off in one motion so swift and artful it was obvious this was a well-practiced routine.
Maybe not everyone is into fuckrobatics, but it was pretty exhilarating to be tossed around like that. My second chakra was pleased. Unfortunately he knew this, and it ruined it a bit, like giving someone a gift just so they can tell you how awesome you are.
Daniel also never wanted to have any conversations that didn't center around himself, so while he was extremely interesting, eventually it all seemed superficial and arrogant, instead of deep and enlightening, like I had hoped. I can't blame him -- remember, I invited him inside me before I got to know him, all in hopes of leaching his zenergy.
My tryst proved to be an excellent way to knock the whole quest for spirituality off its pedestal. The last thing I wanted to be was a master of my own spirituality with my head so far up my esoteric ass that I was ignoring all of the people around me.
I don't mean to stereotype -- spirituality does not always have a correlation to yoga, and not all yogis are douche nuggs. Also, I know some very lovely, very spiritual yogis who are gracious and down-to-earth. So don't crank at me in the comments about how you're a yoga teacher/your mom is a yoga teacher, etc. This is case specific. I am sure your mother is lovely.
If you really want to find balance, spend more time being yourself and less time trying to change yourself.
I had the right IDEA by dedicating more time to yoga and surrounding myself with people I thought I admired. Yoga is something that makes me happy, and doing something that makes you happy when you're a bit lost can be very healing. But I didn't focus on the reason I love yoga -- the physical side -- and instead was trying to mold myself into something I wasn't, using a mode of transportation that I didn't even understand.
At some point it hit me that spirituality is just understanding your own being, and connecting with a deeper sense of yourself AND a larger reality outside of yourself. I don't have to memorize all of the different chakras or meditate for 10 hours a day to qualify.
Realizing this made it a lot easier to chill out and just do what makes me happy, yoga included, without wondering what it all means. I still love yoga, I still have a very active second chakra, and I still can't meditate for shit. But I am no longer looking for enlightenment -- mine or anyone else's.
* Hi Daniel!! Send my love to your penis. Just kidding. Names changed so I don't seem like an insensitive bitch.
Follow Zoe on Twitter @sexytofublog, where she often shares photos of vegetables that resemble genitalia.