“All of my friends are boys. Girls are crazy. "
Somewhere between a relatively normal childhood and the high drama of my 20s, this became my story. It probably started somewhere in my relationship with my mother, gained momentum through a series of destructive romances, and was cemented in the bridge-burning melee of my party days.
I didn't even know I missed or needed female friendship until I finally broke free of my last toxic relationship. After a one-month, 200-hour yoga teacher training course that forced me to look closely at who I was and what I wanted, I packed my things and left a five-year disaster.
To my great surprise, a former roommate came to nurse my wounds with homemade meals and maternal energy. I hadn't been so nice to her when we lived together as I was buried under the weight of daily heartbreak. But after introspecting the workout, I realized that her warmth was without pretense. The fact that she still wanted to be my friend after I was such a mess was the first step in unraveling my long-held self-loathing.
Over the next two years we made this beautiful bond and then life happened and I moved to the other side of the country. Leaving her felt like losing a lung. And suddenly I was living in Los Angeles, soon to be 30, with no friends and no idea how to find them.
I was enrolled in a 300-hour teacher training course that involved taking classes at one of LA's most popular studios several times a week. Because of the strict schedule, I saw the same women in class almost every day.
I had this lame East Coast fear that LA women would be beautiful, shallow, and mean. The horror of being rejected or betrayed almost paralyzed my interactions. But every day I would roll out my mat near the same corner by established teachers and longtime students, forcing myself to smile and say hello. And often they hit me. The girls were warm and welcoming, and went out of their way to introduce me to other students and suggest studios to audition for sublists. Before I knew it, I felt like I had a community.
In the meantime, practicing with master teachers helped soften the walls. Physical contact was a big game changer. Although I had other teachers who made great adaptations, I now regularly experienced the tangible power of the skilled hand. A soft palm on the sacrum deepened the child's pose into a blissful state. Firm pressure on the outer hip stabilizes the rotated triangle. A quick pat on the shoulder softened my traps and added some lightness to the chair. Through regular, mindful adjustments, I got used to the idea of touching and being touched, and soon I was reaching for hugs and offering supportive contact to others in ways that I had never felt comfortable with.
There is a noticeable flow of energy in a room full of people who move mindfully and breathe together. Community builds up in every synchronized Surya Namaskar, every long sigh after a long stop in Plank, every sweet, silent Savasana. If you and your neighbor are curling up your mats after that last om and their vibrations are still resonating in your chest, it is almost impossible to get a sense of goodwill. When the sweat is shed and the walls have fallen, the flowing prana invites you to prolong this feeling of connectedness. I began to linger in this room after class, chatting, exchanging phone numbers, and scheduling coffee appointments.
The process of developing new friendships has destroyed my longstanding prejudice against my own feminine identity. As others stretched out in kindness and kinship, I felt empowered to do the same. The more love I received, the more I felt that I had to give. And the more I gave, the more I felt back. My classes felt enriched. My relationship with my partner developed a new dimension. And although there have been moments of suspicion in these new associations, I can see that other women's rude actions usually come from their own places of hurt and fear – just like mine has for so long. With this awareness, I can choose to forgive with compassion instead of switching off.
I found my tribe in the yoga room. I learn every day by watching the women who teach and practice around me how to balance family and career and hurt and love with humility and grace. Yoga has taught me that I don't have to fear or compete with my sisters in the world: when each of us gives our neighbor a little light, every path shines brighter.
<img alt="molly-bio "width =" 200 "height =" 250 "src =" https://wanderlust.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/molly-bio.jpg "class =" size-full wp-image -42683 alignleft lazyload "/> Molly O & # 39; Neill studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Pennsylvania. When she's not teaching yoga at Wanderlust's flagship studio in Hollywood, she hikes and camps around California, eating tacos or hanging out Her two rescued pit bulls. Check out her full schedule at mollyoneillyoga.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.