It happened to me today. I guess I thought it never would. Was I foolish enough to believe that I could sail along smoothly with only such minor bumps as cranky days, achy back and tight hips? I guess I thought that I was too on-top of processing my shit for me to actually lose my shit in a yoga class. But no, I am a mere child, a novice, a neophyte on this journey of personal growth and spiritual advancement. Never mind that I had my first taste of therapy in 7th grade and worked my way from Freudians to Jungians to new-age whateveryouwannacallthems….never mind the extensive hours of bodywork/zero-balancing/Reconnection/kinesiology/Jin Shin Do/Reiki/craniosacral therapy/Qi Gong/journaling/hypnotherapy/EFT/shamanic healing/psychedelic explorations/cleansing/raw food fasting/Kundalini meditations/chanting and all that yoga! No, beyond all that, even deeper, there was more…always more – emotional residues buried deep within this flesh and these bones!!! All of that stuff, and not even that many years of stuff is SO there and so often, SO stuck!
Boyfriend Yogi sometimes reminds me that the purpose of yoga is to “break your heart open”. And boy, oh boy, did I break it open today! As a newbie to Ashtanga, I have faced the impending dropback practice with trepidation. I began practicing dropbacks over a month ago but then stopped for a few weeks. I resumed this Monday, now practicing 5 backbends, 3 full drop backs and then 5 dropbacks with arms crossed over the chest in which my teacher holds my lower back and quickly brings me up and down (and then on the 5th one I take full wheel and walk my hands in towards my feet). Today during my fourth of the last 5, I rose up but I suddenly couldn’t breathe… AT ALL. I was trying to, but nothing came in when I inhaled! I gasped for air but I couldn’t get it to flow down past my clavicles. My heart clenched. My chest contracted. I panicked! Gasping for air, I somehow managed to say, “I can’t breathe.” Nevertheless, my teacher was dropping me back again! The world was collapsing in on me. Again, I gasped, “I can’t breathe!” Showing mercy, my teacher brought me to the floor into pascimottanasana. Shaking, shocked and sucking in for air, it all let loose. Silent, chest-heaving sobs. I didn’t know what I was crying about but I knew that I couldn’t stop it. I lay there, burying my face deeper down onto my outstretched legs, trembling, choking over my weeping. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t get up and run away from it all! My body was shot – I couldn’t even move! But I couldn’t allow myself to freak out with 15 other people practicing around me. I slowly lay down on my back, still struggling to breathe away my tears. Feeling my weakness, my vulnerability, I tried to let go. I reminded myself that this happens! Energy moves in the body, stuck emotions and stories from our pasts get dislodged during a practice as intense, powerful and opening as Ashtanga. What I am experiencing is not only normal but it’s GOOD! I slowly found my breath and worked to quiet my tears, telling myself that “Well, you’ve got to do Sarvangasana now so let’s move on with it!” I finished my practice and walked home side by side with Boyfriend Yogi speaking kind, comforting but practical words, “You don’t want that stuff all stuck inside you! Better out then in! It’s bound to happen sometime and you didn’t lose it half as bad as some folks I’ve seen.”
My whole day has been effected by that little breakdown. It hasn’t been bad. It was a release and my body is still integrating what happened. But, I tell you, my nervous system feels a bit shot and my body has felt a bit wonky most of the day. Again, not bad, but it feels different…. I can definitely feel that my body is very much alive…and I’m so grateful for this body and even more grateful for this practice that brings me to a deeper understanding, awareness and connection with it.
7:15pm now and it’s time to put this day to rest shortly. I’ve taught 2 yoga classes today, ran around doing errands, having meetings and now I’m home and grateful for the quiet. I didn’t expect to write this much. I really feel quite blank now. This evening my deepest thought/strongest emotion has been great appreciation for those Valentine’s Day chocolate macaroons from Albemarle Baking Company.
Boyfriend Yogi asked, “What’s going on?’
My reply, “I feel like a gray wall.”
His sweetly smart-ass response, “This isn’t a theatre improv class.”
Me – “Ok, I’m going to take a bath.”
Blessings to all and God Bless baths and chocolate!