Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yoga: A Transformational Revelation

I’m in a constant state of soreness these days.

But, it’s a good kind of sore.

On Saturday, I went to a class that was entirely foreign to me. My therapist had actually urged me to go. She had talked about this class a couple of times before, but I managed to conveniently forget about it every time I walked out her door.

Last Thursday, I was in a very bad head space. I was stressed out about a lot of things and a lot of self-defeating tapes were on replay in my head. On the way to work, my phone rang, and it was my therapist.

Sometimes, when you’re in a bad head space, a phone call can feel like a lifeline. And that’s exactly what it felt like last Thursday—her phone call felt like a beam of light coming straight down from the heavens.

She was calling to give me details on the class, happening on Saturday.

I knew it was unavoidable this time.

I dreaded it… but I knew I had to go.

I’m not sure why I dreaded it so much. I guess it was just the fear of doing it wrong or making a fool of myself, or maybe it was just apprehension that it was going to be some hippy-dippy silliness that wouldn’t make sense to me (and, wow, how many judgments are wrapped up in that? Yeah… LOTS).

On Saturday afternoon, though, my fear subsided. I realized that I was falling back into the fear trap, which is a trap I had been stuck in for years, causing high anxiety over lots of things, like decisions I had to make, things I needed to do, and situations that were inevitably out of my control.

I’ve only recently re-discovered the fearlessness I felt as a little girl. So, once I realized what I was doing, I smiled, knowing that there were bigger issues to worry about than going to the Movement Montage class.

I felt awkward at first, because the instructor, Liz Tucker, started out with some Yoga poses. I’d never done Yoga before. I was clueless!

What if I do it wrong? What if I break something? What if—
Just breathe.
Just do it.

I took a deep breath, looked around and saw what others were doing, and I copied.

The second part was Ecstatic Dance. By the time Liz transitioned us to dancing, I was open, warm, and ready. I moved my body in every way I wanted to, and in every way it called me to move it. She played a couple of songs that have always touched me deeply for various reasons, and I felt a beautiful release. I also got a hell of a workout!

At the end, I felt more relaxed, open, warm, and calm than I’ve felt in years. It was absolutely blissful, and I can't wait to do it again.

Ever since Saturday, I’ve been obsessed with Yoga (not to mention dancing around in my living room like a wild thing). A couple of the poses Liz walked us through really inspired and moved me deeply.

I felt the beginnings of a magical awakening when we did child’s pose and pigeon pose. We did pigeon sitting upright as well as folded over, with some cool stretching movements to transition between the up and down parts.

I recognized the beauty of pigeon right away. I was struggling to keep my balance, with the muscles flexed and rigid in my folded leg. I didn’t even realize what my body was doing, but, for just an instant—my leg muscles relaxed.

And when I just let the leg be there, folded up under me like that… I felt a physical release and stretch and openness in my hips that I had never experienced. I had no idea how much I was holding in my hips, and how tight and heavy they had become. It was more transformative for me than I can possibly articulate here, but this pose is one my body has begged me to do every day since.

I have indulged, of course.

Child’s pose was very relaxing when I did it in the class, but since then, it’s become sacred. I had a breakthrough on Sunday evening, when I found myself in child’s pose on my living room floor. I stayed there for a few moments, trying different modifications of the position with my arms, head, and back, and I landed back in child’s pose with wide-spread knees, and my arms extended forward. I pressed my forehead into the carpet, and it hit me that this pose is much like a prayer pose.

And then I started crying.

I cried into the carpet for several minutes, feeling my connection to the Earth, as well as my own inner light, and feeling God in my heart in that moment.

And I prayed. I prayed about a difficult situation I was handling, and I asked questions, and then I went silent. I continued to lie there in child’s pose until I felt like moving. I have no idea how much time passed. I got up and went about finishing the laundry, and the answer I longed for came to me:

“You keep doing what you’re doing. Keep taking care of yourself, keep working on yourself, keep growing, as you already are. Let me handle them.”

The relief washed over me as I received that beautiful reminder. I don’t have to be in control of anyone or anything but me.

I have fallen in love with Yoga. I don’t know why I put off trying it for so long, but I think it had something to do with the fears I mentioned earlier.

No more fear! 

I can’t afford to go to classes all the time right now, but luckily for me, there is a wealth of knowledge available for free on the internet. And, I’ve figured out a way to get the lighting just right at home to see myself in a window, to check my positioning. For now, that will have to do.

This, I can tell, will be absolutely transformative for me. It’s already changing me, changing my body, my mind, and my attitude, and I’m only five days into it.

I look forward to tonight, so I can learn more poses.

If you practice Yoga… what’s your favorite pose?

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