i’ve been making changes. as i’m not even sure if i’ve said publicly, but as most people who know me know, i haven’t practiced or taught yoga in a while now. as i transition into my next step, as maia the human and as maiaflow the brand, i am struggling to parse my feelings of shame and pride about that time in my life in my head, let alone write them down and share them.

in one sense, ego and insecurity informed all of it from the beginning. when i was a kid, i felt insecure about not being naturally strong, which lead me to do barely any physical activity until i found yoga. because i have my own issues with discipline, but also in general, working at something that’s difficult is not as fun as something that comes easy. yoga came easy for me. my natural flexibility was praised in yoga classes, which gave me the validation that kept me coming back to my mat. i still had a lot to learn in terms of strength, which was humbling, and distracted me from the negative consequences of doing what was easy. and i am so proud of the strength i eventually built over the span of years through hours of practice, even though i now understand that strength was unbalanced and contributed to my later injury and pain. this balance between external validation from what came easily and internal validation from what didn’t allowed me to ignore some red flags.

i started feeling pain in my shoulder blade during the first couple of weeks of teacher training when i started practicing more often. it took a while for me to even acknowledge his pain as problematic and something that i don’t have to live with. it took longer to start the process of discovering, identifying, analyzing and understanding my habits.

before i began this process, i struggled with this sort of cognitive dissonance where i felt this deep drive to share this beautiful practice that made me feel so good, while i also intuitively felt that something about it wasn’t working for me. something was missing. i got the yoga high, i loved the feeling of moving and flowing, but i was in pain. even when i diagnosed my pain as scapulothoracic diskenesis due to hypermobility, things didn’t immediately change. i blamed myself and thought, “it’s my fault. if i was more disciplined, i would fix this problem, get stronger, and be pain-free.”

there were two parts of my passion for yoga. one was the passion for feeling good and strong (part of which is a real aspect of my virgo personality i still hold onto, but another part was definitely reliant on the instagram validation machine in a problematic way). then there was teaching. identifying that i have the capacity to be a leader and speak confidently and help people feel good was powerful and affirming and gave me purpose. but something changed when i realized i couldn’t fully believe in what i was teaching. it was incomplete.

finally finding good physical therapy at the beginning of this year empowered me, and somehow drove the point home that yoga is not going to be what heals me. i finally connected the fact that, as much as i tried to ignore it, my pain in my shoulder blade was worse when i practiced yoga. i then had a brief moment where i thought, “okay, i need to be stronger? let me go learn to deadlift.” hi, sacroiliac joints. another humbling experience teaching me that i can’t skip any steps. i need to start where i am. and there is nothing embarrassing or shameful about where i am.

since taking this hiatus from yoga and lifting, and focusing on things that make me feel better like physical therapy, pilates and resting when it’s time, i feel progress. but it’s slow. not a ton of validation going on. another day without pain feels like a win, but then i see people on my timeline as strong as i want to be and it makes me jealous and brings me back to that mindset of, “if only i was more disciplined, i could just lift some weights and be strong and pain-free and perfect.”

discipline and strength come in many forms. lately mine has come in the strength to let go of something that was not serving me. yoga, i love you, and i miss you, but you are not serving me right now. i will be back when i learn how to practice safely and how to teach every single body safely. to everyone who ever came to my classes – i love you so much. thank you for trusting me. i hope you come back to whatever my next class will be someday and allow me to share what i’ve learned.

now, as i ponder my next step (physical therapy school?) and say goodbye to this last one, i struggle to reconcile my simultaneous feelings of shame and pride. in a way, i don’t know who that girl was who was taking pictures contorting her body in painful ways that would hurt her later. in another way, i love that girl. i’m proud of her for finding confidence and strength, even if it was temporary, through this ancient healing practice. i am proud of her for finding meditation, for starting on the path that would lead to exactly where i need to be now.

and doesn’t it always just come back to mindfulness? i’m learning to appreciate exactly where i am. learning to find gratitude even for the pain. accepting my setbacks with grace, and knowing deep down they really are nothing but steps forward along my journey. i’m proud of where i am and what i’ve learned. i’m proud of my discipline in continuing to ask these questions, to dig deeper into the pain instead of running away. i’m proud of myself for pushing myself to write this for real this time after thinking these thoughts for months but being too afraid to put it on to paper. i’ve been afraid i won’t say it exactly right or won’t sound smart enough – ego and insecurity again. i take a deep breath, i go within, i dig deep, i express myself and get vulnerable without fear.

my brilliant best friend was telling me last night how eclipse season and all these retrogrades are the time to discover and then purge whatever energy that’s stagnant and holding you back and release it in order to make space for everything that’s coming. we’re all sharing this. i love you. stay tuned.