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Yoga and the F-Word, by Mandy Roberts

Disclaimer; I know what all you yogis are thinking out there, that with a post titled Yoga and the F-Word this has to be a blog post about Bryan Kest. Wrong. Though I adore Bryan and his extensive use of the f-word, for that topic you must read my dear friend Isabelle Casey’s blog post, Judgement & F-Bombs. Read on…

Three years ago my life was over…or so I thought.

The world I had known and built and loved was pulled out from underneath my feet leaving me stumbling, shrieking, clawing. I was standing at the edge of darkness and staring in the face of fear. I was experiencing the terrible reality of divorce.

Image, courtesy of Mandy Roberts

At this time I was 32 years old and I had never been alone. Yes, you read that right, I had never been alone. I was with my husband from the tender age of 15, and we were married three years later after learning that we were going to be parents. My husband and I both came from impoverished homes with our parents always struggling to make ends meet and to get food on the table. We were determined to have a future for ourselves and for our children. We both worked diligently from the beginning of our relationship and made many sacrifices to overcome the struggles we both knew growing up. Over the years we succeeded. We built a booming business together through hard work and dedication. For the last 8 years of our marriage our business had grown successful enough that I had the privilege of staying at home with our children. I spent my days running our household, working behind the scenes in our business, and volunteering in our children’s school and in our neighborhood. Being a strong-willed woman who liked to be in control (to put it nicely, but that is a whole other blog post), I found certainty in my marriage. We were going to grow old together and find ourselves at age 70 on a front porch swing sipping on a glass of sweet tea in the pre-dusk warmth of sticky southern summer days while our grandchildren played in the yard. My husband was my best friend, confidant and the only person in the world that I could depend on and trust.

As the reality of our divorce set in the many faces of grief and loss were swirling within my body and bubbling to the surface. Anger. Fear. Denial. Desperation. I was utterly TERRIFIED. I struggled to get out of bed. I struggled to eat. I struggled to sleep. When I was out of sight of my children I spent most of my day crying, locked inside my house. When I did go out in public I put on my warrior suit and held my head high, but inside I was screaming. I lost faith that I would ever be okay again. I was not even striving for happy, I was merely just wanting to be okay. Needless to say, it was bad.

There it is, the f word…FAITH.

Researcher and storyteller Brené Brown defines faith as “a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.” Faith. Much scarier than the other f-word right?

image courtesy of Mandy Roberts

Over the past couple of years I have found faith again (that journey will come in another blog, another time). In fact faith and I are very dear friends now. And just like with any other relationship, at times we struggle. Sometimes I push faith away because she is just too damn hard to have in my life. She constantly requires me to be present. She demands that I be vulnerable and open. She insists that I lead from my heart and not to make decisions based on fear.Sound exhausting, right?

As a yoga teacher I strive to teach my students the concept of faith as I understand it. Through a yoga practice faith can be found when we let go of our limiting beliefs. For many of us this is not easy. As we breathe and move through postures on the mat we find ourselves challenged physically and emotionally. Just like in life, it is easy to give up when we are faced with discomfort. But when we are struggling( on the mat or out in the world) we have an amazing opportunity to explore ourselves, our patterns, our reactions. It is EASY to pull out of that utkatasana 10 breaths in when the mind yells, “Abort mission!”. The hard part is learning to sit within the storm and to have faith that the discomfort shall pass.

Resolving to accept uncertainty and to choose faith not an easy place to live from, in fact it is very challenging at times. But I know now that no matter how hard it is to live within faith, it is much harder to live without it.

Within the depths of my sorrows and in the gloom of my divorce my yoga teacher Mitchel Bleier passed along this poem to me. Over time these words have carried me toward the shores of uncertainty while holding the hands of my long forgotten friends; courage and fearlessness.


by David Whyte

There is a faith in loving fiercely

the one who is rightfully yours,

especially if you have

waited years and especially

if part of you never believed

you could deserve this

loved and beckoning hand

held out to you this way.

I am thinking of faith now

and the testaments of loneliness

and what we feel we are

worthy of in this world.

Years ago in the Hebrides

I remember an old man

who walked every morning

on the grey stones

to the shore of the baying seals,

who would press his hat

to his chest in the blustering

salt wind and say his prayer

to the turbulent Jesus

hidden in the water,

and I think of the story

of the storm and everyone

waking and seeing

the distant

yet familiar figure

far across the water

calling to them,

and how we are all

preparing for that

abrupt waking,

and that calling,

and that moment

we have to say yes,

except it will

not come so grandly,

so Biblically,

but more subtly

and intimately in the face

of the one you know

you have to love,

so that when we finally step out of the boat

toward them, we find

everything holds

us, and confirms

our courage, and if you wanted

to drown you could,

but you don’t

because finally

after all the struggle

and all the years,

you don’t want to any more,

you’ve simply had enough

of drowning

and you want to live and you

want to love and you will

walk across any territory

and any darkness,

however fluid and however

dangerous, to take the

one hand you know

belongs in yours.

Mandy Roberts

Mandy Roberts, Director of Form {yoga}

Mandy is a certified yoga teacher in Atlanta, Georgia and director of FORM {yoga}, a music driven, power yoga studio in Decatur. Leaving dogma at the door, Mandy encourages her students to face their fears and to go deep into what moves them. Her classes are a sweet and sweaty celebration of life expressed through playful asana, music, poetry, and storytelling. Mandy strives to empower her students to breakthrough their perceived boundaries by challenging the body and the mind. You can find her most days rockin’ it out at FORM {yoga} and you can often catch her in some of Atlanta’s other great yoga studios moving and sweating on her mat.



4 Responses to “Yoga and the F-Word, by Mandy Roberts”

  1. Shavonna says:

    Loved this post! Mandy, your words were palpable to the heart. Such gratitude for your rawness and beauty.

  2. Mandy says:

    Thank you Marlysa!

  3. Marlysa says:

    This is so amazingly beautiful Mandy. I am so happy to know you and be part of this yoga community with you. Thank you so much for sharing and being so open.

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