I used to have a solid yoga practice - one hour of Vinyasa a day, six or seven days a week. Every once in a while I would mix it up with some restorative or “hot” yoga, but for the most part, I couldn’t get in enough asanas or go deep enough into my prana. My body felt strong, powerful, sleek, athletic, while my mind felt clear, sharp, focused, and open. I was in my best physical and mental health during that time. So what happened?
Life - as “they” say. I went from being a free-spirited grad student to working for a living and allowing life to get in the way of my practice, and no matter how I tried, it became so hard to get back into a routine. Here I am - nine years later - incorporating restorative yoga into my nightly ritual and being reminded why yoga is a necessity for my personal healing.
You see, I struggle with vulnerability. There’s a deep trauma there that I can’t get into at this time, but vulnerability has been a challenge for me my whole life. While I’ve come a long way in accepting it for what it is, I’m still not comfortable being with it or sharing it in any way. You might think, “but you’ve written a blog and shared your story since 2009, how is that not vulnerable?” And that’s a fair question. I find it easier to be vulnerable this way because there’s still something between me and…you. To be in the same space with someone is very different. It has dictated how I hold space for others as well because my inability to go to some places of vulnerability also means that my clients or family or friends can’t go there with me either. As I further my coaching and somatic practices, I am turning to yoga not just to feel strong in my body, but to open myself to vulnerability.
There are asanas in yoga that you simply cannot do if you aren’t able to open your heart chakra - literally, no camel or fish pose if your heart space is blocked. I find that it’s either incredibly difficult for me to complete opening sequences when I’m emotionally blocked, OR I can get into the position and immediately break down because my heart space is so completely open that the emotional and energetic weight is too overbearing and I have no choice but to release it. The latter is actually preferred, as I can hold my emotion deep within my body and then make myself physically ill with symptoms that resemble terrible things, like endometriosis.
In yoga, you’re always presented with an opportunity to be in position, meet the resistance, and with a single cleansing breath, go deeper into the hold. When done correctly, you can feel this beautiful tension and eventual release that immediately shifts your body and energy. When done incorrectly, you risk hyperextension and overstressing your body, which can lead to lasting injury. I feel the same is true when healing. If you can meet the feeling where it’s blocked, and then go deeper, you have an incredible opportunity to transmute emotional blocks into the spiritual lightness of being. However, if you ignore the pain, bypass it, choose the wrong treatment, you might just end up in a deeper darker place than where you started, feeling overwhelmed and undervalued. Nobody wants that, and I definitely don’t want that for anybody. I feel that the ultimate goal in yoga is to trust that your body can hold you, have faith that you can stay balanced, and surrender to your breath, your spirit, and your heart.
As I make my way back into a regular practice, I’m acknowledging that for me at this time, yoga is the only form of movement that truly allows me to tap into emotional voids and have a conversation with the guardian at the gate. I’m able to name a challenge, process it, work through it, repair it, and heal; little by little I’m learning how to give priority to my grief so that I can live more presently in joy. Light and Love,