I went to one of my favorite yoga classes tonight (www.innerhappiness.com), feeling almost … desperate for some release.  Work was successfully doing what it does almost every day — making me feel overwhelmed and inadequate to the daily tasks, and my neck and shoulders were responding in turn. I thought a yoga class would be the balm I needed … And it was, it just gifted itself in an unexpected way.

I arrived — early even –  and used the time to meditate.  I closed my eyes, focused on my breath and all the hustle, shifting and murmuring conversations around me faded as I went deep into my breath and into my Now. My Yogi ego smiled at how peaceful I felt.  Then the teacher began class and I found myself encountering layers of resistance I didn’t even know existed.

The teacher presented an over-riding theme in class of opening our hearts and “meditating outward” … essentially taking the energy we were raising with our asana practice, centering into our heart and then sending it outward — the idea being that living fully, lifting our souls to lightness encourages, and gives permission to others to do the same.  The asana practice was full of beautiful opening poses — twists and backbends and poses that required a bit of courage to try (like Koundianasana variation — and yes, my version was VERY modified) … and I discovered it took every ounce of will I had to keep breathing, keep present and keep allowing the class to unfold.

Inhale, sweep my arms up. Exhale, dive forward to fold. Inhale, prep position. Exhale, jump back to plank. Lower. Inhale to Cobra (Bhujangasana). Exhale to Down Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Feel my shoulder tweak. Breathe. Hear the teacher’s words, “Go into your core, find that meditative space. Breathe into it and with courage, send it out.”  Fight the impulse to lose focus and instead pay attention to the fact that sweat was dripping down my brow, my shoulder was feeling weak, and oh, look, a piece of towel fuzz was stuck to my mat …

I couldn’t understand why the idea of opening my heart, accessing love, kindness and compassion and sharing it was sending me into a struggle to breathe. So, for lack of knowing what else to do, I kept moving through the asana sequences. I kept returning to my breath. I kept practicing, even when I’d sweep into a twist, take a breath and feel my eyes fill with tears.  I kept practicing even when the teacher’s encouraging words, married to the heated, opening poses, insisted on stretching muscles and peeling open my heart to expose it’s vulnerable center.  I kept practicing even when I had to go down into Child’s Pose (Balasana) because the tears were streaming and needed to be expressed. I just kept breathing, and welcomed it all.  Every time some new sensation/emotion popped up, I literally thought, “Fear. You’re welcome here. Come to me. Let me hold you and love you. Oh, Anger, come in, welcome! Let me hold you and love you. Self-hate? Oh, yes. You, too. Most definitely you are welcome.  Let me hold you and love you.”  I didn’t know what else to do, so I kept applying the meditative practices I know.  I practiced Yoga.

I still don’t understand, really (well intellectually) what happened tonight.  I do understand that Yoga will do that — present us with the opportunity to twist, stretch, extend and release on all levels — physical, emotional, mental and energetic. I’m sure that the accumulated stress from work, my conscious effort to delve further into my practice (and Asana is a very small piece of this), my love life opening into places it’s never been, my steady and persistent habit of dishonoring my need for 8+ hours of sleep nightly probably all contributed to my needing the release that presented. The thing I’m reminding myself is that I don’t need to know why.  I don’t ever need to know why.  I just need to accept it as part of the process of discovering my steps on this Yogic path.  I just need to accept and allow my path to unfold.  As Judith Lasater states in her book, Living Your Yoga, “Control is the greatest illusion.” And as someone who loves to be in control, this is a mantra I must keep close.

The only other thing I must do is take a moment and be grateful for the experience. Grateful that the class offered me the safe space to fully practice and experience and welcome whatever arrived.Grateful that I honored what was happening and didn’t try to control it. Grateful that my heart is capable of opening up and feeling ever deeper layers of love and compassion.

Om Mani Padme Hum

One Response to “Be grateful for the tears … and keep practicing”

  • Akash Sharma says:

    Hi Deb, Great to see your blog up, will look forward to some real good flow of words on Yoga and how we can make our lives better with it.

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