Before I even walk in the door of my seemingly routine yoga class, I can feel a fear come over me—floating around me like a mist of shadowy smoke.
I slowly start to unravel my mat. "It's going to be a doozy," my mind says. I try to ignore it, feeling hesitant and overwhelmed. As the teacher begins, that shadowy smoke starts to leave my mind and surround my body. The fear sets in.
My back starts to cramp. My shoulder blades tighten. Pain in my neck. ALL of the reasons I should roll up my mat and go home start to creep in. “This isn’t a good day for yoga!”
My mind screams, Can't you see your body's telling you to stop, retreat, run away? But I continue. Why? Because I know this feeling, this seemingly physical pain that’s actually the energy of my ego trying to stop me from healing by avoiding pain—not physical pain but emotional.
Transforming pain into progress
As I am visualizing love and healing light all around me, I gaze up, looking toward the front of my mat. I can feel those fears and physical manifestations release. I can feel my back, shoulders, and all other parts of my body opening and allowing the flow. This is yoga.
I realize the entire class is designed for the hips, hip flexors, and psoai. This is my resistance. The resistance of all the sadness, past wounds, and pains of past years, past months, past weeks. Again, I lean into it.
Throughout my practice, my ego is working against me. “This is too hard; you don’t need this!” “The teacher is mean, and she wants to punish you!” “You are better than this, better than her!” “No, you aren't better; you’re worse; you’re broken…” It will tell me anything to get me to quit, give up, run for the hills—to not face my pain, my wounds, my life.
In spite of it all, I continue.
Building now is a resentment against the teacher, the students, and myself. I work through this step by step and pose by pose. I allow myself to feel whatever it is I am supposed to feel, whether that be anger, resentment, fear, or shame.
I finish up my practice with savasana, unable to quiet my mind. But I just keep practicing. Practicing allowing. Practicing nonjudgment. Practicing love and compassion for myself, which is all I can muster.
Recognizing the need for change
As I leave the space and rush out the door, I feel an overwhelming sense of sadness. And as the ego takes over, I hear in a dark and childlike voice, “You aren't loved." This feeling is seemingly out of nowhere...but is it?
No, this is old emotions that were trapped in my hips. Emotions of not being good enough, not being valued enough, not being loved, and not being worth it. I almost can’t stand the intensity of emotions that come over me like a steam train in the middle of this abandoned parking lot.
I sit. I cry. I allow the feelings and thoughts to release. I can allow it now, or it can run my life. This I know for sure. This is my choice.
I can now see certain truths about my life. How I've pushed so hard for people to love me, to take care of me. Now, I know that I must release these old ideas of how people, the world, and I should be.
How powerful and beautiful yoga is. How integrative it is. One class can heal lifetimes of wounds. It's not just a physical practice but a spiritual evolution of my whole being.
In just one class I was shown who I was, who I am, and who I want to be. I was shown that I am not completely healed, and, like every other human being, I hide things, just hoping they will go away. I avoid the pain of awareness, to keep my life small and manageable.
Self-healing takes practice
I'm guessing I'm not the only one who's had a class like this. But this is one of those yoga experiences that people don't talk about. I want to talk about it. And whether it's happened to you or not, I want you to ask yourself: Are you keeping your life small? Are you feeling what needs to be felt in order to live your most authentic life?
How can we allow healing to take place without judgment? Practice! Practice allowing yourself to feel those feelings, to cry those tears. Practice yoga, self-care, and connection to your soul and to the earth. Reach outside of your ego self for guidance, love, and support. Ask for help, and listen!
Listen to what your body, mind, and soul are trying to tell you. You already know the answers. You just have to look. Turn your gaze toward the light, toward your inner self. Allow the practice of yoga to remove those stagnant blocks. Those old wounds. Wounds that no longer serve your highest good, wounds that stop you from living as your free self. Allow those fears, that anger, that release. If you allow it, you can accept, and if you accept, you are free.