My Embarrassing Yoga Story
Hi and Welcome to The Art of Onward!
I want to share with you a rather embarrassing night of my recovery journey. My Yoga story.
(and here I pause ... where to begin...deep breath...)
A year and a half before the "event", my then-husband gifted me with a beginner Yoga class. To me, it was a way to carve out purposeful time together - and alone - once a week as we headed out to the class. Great studio, lovely teacher. Learned so much. We were introduced to several types of practices and practiced basic flows for each one. We found a studio closer to home after we felt we could follow along in a regular class.
I soon was introduced to a type of yoga called YIN, or Restorative. This is a slower paced practice, where poses are held for anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes. This new studio offered these classes just before bedtime, Tuesday and Thursday evenings. A great way to come down from the day, regain some oxygen in those muscles and lungs and calm the mind in preparation for sleep.
Immediately following that awful July 10th 2015, I stopped everything. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I really could only focus on getting through the day alive, and breathing.
A few months later, though, I had such a strong desire to return to something I loved to do - outside the house. Away from eyes or ears and to just be. This was during the time I could not even buy groceriest, I would find myself staring at shelves, for 10, 20, 30 minutes at a time.
So to return to the yoga studio was a big step for me. I yearned for that self care though, and decided to go around mid September. I somehow got my mat, water bottle, appropriate clothes, and went to join the 9 pm class. I was excited and so scared - well, self conscious, like somehow my pain was tattooed throughout my aura as well as on my forehead - just finding parking was a coup for me that night.
The class began, and I forced my body to respond to my commands as the teacher led us through the exercises. They diffuse lemongrass throughout the studio during practice (yes, that is where my love affair with lemongrass began - it's a safe and healthy state of mind/being for me) and the dim room, smell and calm, guiding voice, touched me deeply with a sense of security as the class continued.
Stretching my tense muscles for the first time in months, hip openers and jaw relaxation - it hurt. At this point I was still waking up from grinding my teeth at night, I was awaking in the morning to find myself curled in to a human ball of tension. Everything hurt and everything was bound in painful spasms. I couldn't turn my head farther than about 15 degrees and still couldn't open my mouth wide enough to eat a sandwich. This gives you an idea of my physical state at this time.
And now YIN Yoga practice. Dim room, quiet voices, slow long stretches. Like heaven, except not. It was too soon.
Part way through the class, the tears began to stream down my face. I couldn't stop them. I spent the rest of the practice swallowing my sobs so as not to disturb the other people in the room. I was so done with the tears, and I was beginning to get annoyed with myself. And my throat hurt from trying so hard not to cry.
I made it through Shavasana and raced out of there, keeping my eyes on the ground and head down.
I somehow drove home safely and parked in the driveway.
And there I broke down. I sat and cried for an hour. Again. But this cry felt different, it reached an even further depth within me. (Only two months later this pain manifested in to a life threatening cyst the size of a melon, resulting in emergency surgery) I couldn't stop! And if I were to go inside in this state, I would get in trouble, so I stayed in the car. My body was curled back in to a ball, squeezed between the steering wheel and the seat back. I let it all out. Not that I had a choice.
Here is what I learned the following day after talking with my support person:
Hips hold our emotions. Like a vault.
When we stretch our hips open, we are allowing those emotions to become 'unhinged'.
Okay. I really wished I'd known that prior to doing those exercises with such fervor to regain my flexibility. Maybe I would have held back a little.
Or maybe I would have welcomed the emotional purge, knowing to expect it.
But there you have it - my Yoga story. Laced in Tears. Ugh.
I was so embarrassed about possibly having been disruptive to the class with my uncontrolled emotions, I did not return for a long time.
The following Spring, my daughter suggested I do yoga at home. It's free - on YouTube. And I wouldn't have to worry about disrupting anyone. I could just do the yoga, for free, at my own pace, whenever I liked.
Since my stomach muscles needed to be rebuilt after the laparotomy (surgery to remove the cyst) I found core muscle building practices, began with a 15 minute session until I was able to add more and more. I was now doing yoga every day, diffusing my own lemongrass in the room I was using, and I was able to rebuild my muscles, strength and confidence.
And yes, in time, I was able to return to the studio for occasional guided practice. Though my at-home yoga routine has become a daily staple for me. And yes, my diffuser with lemongrass and a few other oils I've added to raise my wellbeing. :)
I'm sharing this to inspire you to find your safe place to do what you know your body and/or your mind and spirit need for you to provide. (Also, beware of hip openers...)
What's your yoga? If you're not ready to step out and do this thing in the traditional format, find another way - give yourself the gift of a safe place, and continue to nurture yourself in ways that DO work for you - In this moment, with what you have available, find your own path - pave it, if you have to. Don't worry about what anyone else is doing, or how. In time, confidence and strength will return and so will you.
But for now, do what works FOR YOU. Today. Now.
You are Precious and Worthy. Fight for that, fight for your you.
Sending each of you Love and Light and renewed Courage to take your next steps toward healing.
You are not alone. You ARE worthy.