Yesterday morning I was sitting on my mat in my favorite yoga studio. Class was starting in five minutes and I was looking forward to a good sweat and a mental bath. Then a very strong feeling of panic hit me and I wanted to leave. Needed to leave. It was unprovoked and startling. Because I knew I wasn’t in danger, I stayed. I sat with that panic until a friend rolled out her mat next to mine and I knew I wasn’t leaving.
My movements weren’t fluid and despite the warm up, I felt rigid. Not just in my body but my mind. Feelings of insecurity, judgment and anger would rise up from my belly to my heart, then my throat and then settle back down. I was a human lava lamp of unpleasantness.
These were the same feelings I had the evening before while I was getting ready to meet some friends, when I almost shut myself in my closet in order to avoid the next few hours. I wasn't about to become an R. Kelly joke, so like in class, instead of fleeing- or hiding- I stayed. I continued getting ready, left the house and had a smile on my face. But I was just as rigid that night as I was in yoga the next day.
It wasn’t until I attempted my least favorite arm balance yesterday that I let myself cry. I allowed the rigidity to leak out of my eyes for a few moments and then I was able to move forward with a little more lightness.
A little cry in yoga isn’t a bad thing, and neither is experiencing those ugly emotions. I’ve heard it called your shadow side: the part of you that tends to take over when you’re living below the line. My shadow side is jealous and insecure, but she is a part of me. Those tears shed allowed me to honor my shadow and then choose the light and the good in me. This is a lesson I’m learning every day and is new each time, as each experience is new in its own way.
Day 5 of Meditations from the Mat says it quite beautifully:
Is there anything you’re struggling with? What part of yourself can you acknowledge and then release?