On Sunday mornings, the husband and I go to Yoga Church.
Thats right. Laugh it up. Throw all the crunchy hippie comments at me now.
You done? Great, let’s move on.
It’s actually called yoga church; Matt and I didn’t just name it that. We move our bodies and center our minds and it’s all pretty wonderful to be honest, so I highly recommend.
This past Sunday I flew solo as Matt slept in, recovering from a 15 hour work day. I crept out of bed at 7am, sipped my yerba mate, read a bit from Viktor Frankl, wiggled into my jungle-printed leggings and was off to awaken my chakras or something.
I was early to class, which never happens, so I unrolled my yoga mat (which also serves as a scratching post for my cat) and started doing the stretches I'm familiar with.
People filtered in, and when the class began, I knew immediately what kind of practice this was going to be for me. Ever since we started yoga-ing more regularly, I've noticed (so far) three categories of personal experience.
The first is physically focused. Some days my mind is just not down with the meditatey thing, and yoga simply serves as a great workout. The second is almost transcendent. My body and mind somehow miraculously align and I enter into this space that feels orange and white; bliss and calm; peace on a profound level.
The third can only be characterized by one word: anger.
Yep. I'm the girl who gets angry while she's practicing literally the most peaceful physical exercise known to humankind.
But apparently it's normal for emotions to emerge as you're practicing, and apparently anger is something I deal with. We entered into this merciless lunge/death-squat pose and WHOMP there was all of my anger. Right there, burning in my thighs and shaking down my calves. The physical stress was all-consuming, and I was pretty sure that I was going to lose my legs right there in the Lotus Room.
Humming beside the physical strain was bubbling, sticky anger. Directed at nothing in particular, it just gurgled and popped like hot, boiling tar.
As I fought with everything in me to not collapse into a humiliating pile of limbs, my instructor said something that caught my ear.
She said, "Notice how the body informs the mind. Notice what might be coming up within you as you hold this pose. Now, imagine how you will feel in a few breaths when we leave this pose. Notice how this changes your thoughts about your current situation."
And that struck me, because to be transparent, feelings often rule my life. Yet, there was my instructor, challenging me to compassionately conquer my pain with broader perspective.
All at once THe synapses fired. I realized:
I don't have to give my feelings such a strong hold over my mind.
I'm not always going to feel this way.
I don't have to hold so tightly to my feelings.
i can Let them come, feel them, and let them pass.
i can Let them go.
I believe in feelings, their importance, and the necessity of nurturing one's emotional life. I like feelings because I'm an INFP, an artist, and an all-around sensitive creature.
So what she said struck me because it expanded my perspective.
Yes, my legs are falling off now. But in a few breaths my legs won't be falling off, and I'll be feeling relieved and stretchy.
Translate to real life example: Yes, I am hurt by my husband right now. But in an hour we will have worked through it and I will remember how to see the beauty in him, and I will be thankful again to have him in my life.
This perspective changes things because instead of unleashing the hounds of rage, you can begin to accept emotions as they come, giving them appropriate space and attention, but reminding them gently of who is in charge (you) and who is not (them). They are guests in your house.
we have to let our feelings know their place. We must tell them:
"Yes! Come in. You are welcome here. I'll take your coat, stay for tea," and then,
"I must get back to work. Feel free to stay or go, but I need to carry on with the rest of my day."
It's a life-long practice, methinks. Especially if you're highly-attuned to your emotional landscape. But what exists on the other side of mastering your emotions is FREEDOM. Freedom to remain in control of your behavior; freedom to find inner peace despite circumstances; freedom to create a more positive perspective and a more joyful mind.
And everyone wants more of that.